37-year-old Catherine carries the weary body of a 90-year-old with grace and dignity as she quietly suffers with simple tasks because of her rheumatoid arthritis. She showed up to a beginners’ meditation class in the hopes of developing patience and finding acceptance with her aching body.
I met Robert 3 years ago after his seventh failed back surgery. The doctors recommended a course of daily pain medication that would leave him undesirably stupefied. He was looking for an alternative solution that would keep his feet planted on the ground.  
Venus came to a practice because she struggles with the will to live and the chronic depression that follows her in the wake of years of abuse. She trusted a meditation practice would help her find meaning, purpose and hope in her life.
I continue to be inspired by John who competes in triathlons on good days but meditates because some days he can’t get out of bed when he feels the effects of his slowly progressing multiple sclerosis.
We are confronted with a seemingly hopeless situation when we discover we have a condition that will not get any better.
But there is hope.
I have witnessed it in my friends Robert, Venus, Cat, John and countless others.
Over the 60+ years of his teaching, the Buddha talked extensively about how we were prisoners to the impulses that drives us away from things that make us uncomfortable and towards the things that give us pleasure. He proposed a radical path to finding inner peace, a middle way, that suggested we didn’t have to be the unwitting passengers on a boat that tugged us one way or another. We could choose how we respond to discomfort and craving: We could simply sit.
I know, I know. That doesn’t sound like much of an answer at first. But when we come to a meditation practice in the face of great suffering we find a solution in acceptance. We learn how to do this while sitting on the cushion.
My friend and New Leaf Meditation instructor Christine exemplifies one of those stories that gives me hope.
Diagnosed with a chronic condition 8 years ago that causes intense muscle and joint pain for several days out of the month, Christine came to a meditation practice to find a way of coping with her illness. Today, she volunteers as a meditation instructor to share her experience with others who wonder if there is a way to manage their new reality.
I’m grateful that Christine has agreed to host a monthly meditation and discussion group called “Finding Comfort in the Uncomfortable: Chronic Pain and Illness Group.” We’ll meet on Sunday, February 12th at 8:30pm EST for the first session.  
You can find the details about how to connect with us online or by phone at newleafmeditation.org/events

May your practice be strong and your life go well. 

Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed. 
Founder & Meditation Instructor
New Leaf Mediation Project

P.S. In addition to tomorrow night's 8:30pm EST Chronic Pain & Illness meditation group, we have a beginner's introduction to meditation on Thursday, February 16th at 8pm EST / 5pm PST with New Leaf Instructor Lee Peterson. Details at newleafmeditation.org/events