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"Rest, Refuge, and Retreats"
(pt. 2 / Jared Ramsburg)

Transcript of a talk delivered by Jared Ramsburg
Breath of Life (Interfaith Mindfulness Fellowship)
August 5, 2007 - Dallas, Texas

Jared Ramsburg:
I think what made this practice most beneficial for me when I began many years ago, was that it was so difficult. It wasn't easy to sit for even five minutes. It wasn't easy to listen to people more deeply. It wasn't easy to eat a little better than I had been, to make better decisions. I found that I tended to take the easy path. And then after some time in meditation and studies and reading, I began to understand more about how things come to be, and how things work. And it's brought about a different kind of awareness than I had before, and I'm quite thankful for that. And I'm very glad to be today with ChiSing and with all of you. Thank you.

Br. ChiSing:
Jared if you don't mind I'd like for you to share your recent experience where you kind of had a close brush with death.

Um… wasn't that close.

I live in Los Angeles and I was on a vacation at Yosemite National Park and I was there with my brother and we were hiking the falls. And there's a fall's trail which leads up to the top; it's about three and a half miles high to get up to the top of the waterfall. It's the fifth largest waterfall in the world; largest one in America, very beautiful. If you ever get a chance it's the place to go in Yosemite.

We hiked up about midway and took a side path down to the waterfall area where it kind of leveled off for maybe two football lengths. It was something fairly flat and we went over there and got in the waterfall and played, and had some fun. It was quite enjoyable; very good experience. But when I was leaving, I slipped on some rock and I started to slide and it was almost like a waterslide. It was very wide, mostly flat, maybe a thirty degree incline, but very, very smooth. So I couldn't stop from sliding for anything… clawing… nothing worked. And I was already wet so I just kept going faster and faster. So I thought, "oh no… this is it!" Because the slide, the trajectory that I was on was going right into the rapids of the fall, which then about twenty yards after the rapids is the big drop.

Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls
So as I'm sliding I'm looking around seeing if there's anything I can do to stop the slide and I saw a hole in the ground, maybe twelve inches around just out in the middle of the very slick ground and I thought I could put my legs in there or my hands in there and try to grab it to stop from sliding. I got my right leg in, but my momentum was too strong so I kept going and it broke my leg. And I kept going and I ended up falling into a narrow part maybe about three foot, about a yard in width… was the water… this area… And it was still very steep on both sides so we couldn't really climb out of it too well. And the water's rushing over my body. Its very, very cold. I'm pinned and holding on for dear life, literally. And the first thing that comes to mind is relax, don't panic and assess where I am.

And I tried to get, I went to get a better position and I knew my leg was broken so I couldn't use that. And I was thinking, "can I stay here and wait for help?" And I knew I couldn't 'cause the water was too cold. I wouldn't have been able to hold on much longer. So I saw my brother. He was kind of up above me, and he popped his head over to see what was going on. He said, "Are you ok"? I said "Help!" clearly. You know, so he could hear. Then he disappeared off and he went to circle around I think. So I waited about a minute or two there but I didn't see him yet so I figured well I have to try to figure out how I can get out of here, 'cause I can't stay. I was able to get my hands, little fingers or maybe nails, there wasn't much to grip onto, fingers or nails, in the right side area of the rock and wedge my right knee over and kind of flip my left foot over to grab a small hole. I did a little climbing but not much so that was beneficial. I kind of had to sprawl my whole body out to maximize my surface area to make as much tension as I could so that I wouldn't slide back in.

I kind of creeped along like a spider for about ten yards until I got to an area that had small holes and I had to use fingers to kind of crawl up that until I could get the hands and knees and crawl up for a little while, and then eventually I was out.

In the mean time my brother actually fell down the same way I did. But he was trying to save me. He managed to do what I did to get out. So he was behind me and I'm in front. We're both alive! But we're two and a half miles up. I'm freezing cold. My whole body is shaking uncontrollably from the cold. I've never been that cold in my life; just so cold… so, so cold.

And we started to make our way back up and I told him to go ahead of me to get back on the trail and get back our other stuff, the pack we left behind. And I slowly kind of crawled over the big rocks and made my way up until we got back onto the main trail. And by then the pain started to hit a lot more. I just started to swell up very big, my leg, around the ankle. I knew I wasn't going to be able to walk down. So he started to carry me.

Loving Kindness - Sun in the hands While he was carrying me along the way, we met other hikers that were going up and coming down. And the people started giving me water and food, and somebody put a tourniquet kind of thing on my leg and other people started carrying me, total strangers and I'd never met them before. But I had these two or three, two… I was up there… actually four people… no … five people at a time were all helping me to get down the mountain and carrying me. It was really cool, very nice. Some from New Zealand, France, California… it was really nice to have all those people there to support and help me on my way back down. But one of them did have cell phone so got some help and a guy came up with crutches, and I was able to use those to get down the trail.

It took about six hours to go down on the crutches. I don't know if you have ever had to use crutches before, but they are not the most fun. And if you've never had to use them really and you're not used to it under your arm, it will bleed. And my whole underside here was bleeding on both sides.

But I'm OK now.

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Transcribed by Jody Whitcomb

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