Laura-Elena’s Samadhi Lesson: How to Stop a Coughing Attack
Taken from Master YongHua’s Dharma Talk on July 6, 2013
Recently at one our Chan classes, one of our younger students shared with us her most amazing discovery. Laura-Elena, who is 10 years old, taught all of us how to stop a coughing attack using Chan meditation skills.
Laura-Elena was sick a couple of weeks ago. She couldn’t stop coughing. It started around midnight and she was coughing violently. Her family didn’t know what was causing it because her nose wasn’t clogged or running. She was coughing from her lungs and it hurt. A lot!
She was coughing for about 2 hours non-stop. During that time her mom tried everything parents would normally do: over the counter medication, tea with honey, even vinegar, but nothing helped. After a while there was nothing left to do but to take Laura-Elena to Emergency. That’s when her mom who practiced Chan under Master YongHua went to her and said that she might have to go to the hospital. But before doing that, her mother suggested that they try different things. She asked Laura-Elena if she would like to meditate. If she was able to meditate the coughing might stop. Her mom suggested to take the coughing out of her mind, don’t focus on it so much. Right away, Laura-Elena started her meditation. The young lady went to Master YongHua’s Chan class a few times already and therefore knew what to do.
She sat in full lotus position on the floor and recited the Buddha’s name to her navel. In the beginning it was hard to concentrate because she had to fight the impulse to cough. However, eventually she relaxed. Laura-Elena says she doesn’t remember what happened but 5 minutes after she started meditating, the coughing was a lot more bearable. She then continued to sit for 15 minutes during which she lost track of time. Then she got up from the floor. Her mother said that Laura-Elena didn’t say a word to her. She simply got up from the floor, climbed into bed and went to sleep.
Her mother said that during her coughing fit, Laura-Elena went to the bathroom and was trying to vomit. When you feel like you want to vomit, that means that your qi is moving in the wrong direction. That’s when you definitely need to meditate. Meditation regulates the qi flow. When the qi is flowing as it should, you don’t want to vomit.
When you are sick, weak and tired like this, the temptation is to lie down and rest. Doctors tell you to do that. But if you have Chan skills the best thing for you to do is to meditate. It’s a struggle when you first meditate when you don’t feel well. But the point is to keep at it. You fight your tiredness; keep concentrating on your meditation. This is where your Chan skills will pay off and help you. This is the quickest way to recover.
When you don’t have any Chan skills and you don’t feel well and try to meditate to help yourself, nothing happens. But if you have Chan skills and you are sick or drained, it will be very easy to enter samadhi. That’s what happened to Laura-Elena. She sat there for 15 minutes in samadhi. During this time, the qi was very strong and was flowing through her lungs and her whole body, so by the time that she exited samadhi, the qi had already healed her. That’s why she stopped coughing. This is how she was able to heal herself.
This is why we meditate every day. We hone our meditation skills so when you get sick, these skills can help you recover.
When her mother suggested for her to meditate, Laura-Elena took her advice. Instead of discounting and ignoring her mother, she listened to her. This showed that she already had a lot of blessings. If she didn’t, they would have gone to Emergency, and then every time she had a coughing attack she would have to go to Emergency again; a pattern would already be set. But going to the hospital would only take care of the coughing, whereas the Chan meditation took care of the cause.
You could look at the coughing attack as something bad that happened. But you could also look at it as a blessing in disguise because through this experience Laura-Elena discovered that she has some Chan skills that she can depend on when she is in trouble.
Enter Samadhi and heal yourself. You ought to take your Chan practice seriously because it’s your well being that’s at sake. You are improving your well-being when you improve your Chan skills.