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Hello everyone, so glad to finally have joined this site after reading so much on the forums. It's been a rough road for me the past several years, and reading the Daodejing and beginning to meditate seriously and attempt to be present in the moment has been an experience I never thought possible. I used to be very heavily into drugs, mainly benzo medication. I was a Roman Catholic who always thought of spirituality in large concepts, rather than in an experiential way. Everything during this period of my life was intellectual, moral, with very little understanding of myself, or the world around me. It was like being a prisoner trapped in my own mind, unable to unhinge myself from the concept of myself. When I first went on a meditation retreat, I chose to start with what I knew. It landed me at a Benedictine Monastery in New Jersey. The most important thing I began to learn there, was something that I never knew truly existed, compassion. It was not a concept that I was familiar with, giving it, and also receiving it. That began my spiritual journey which I am ever so grateful for. The Order of St. Benedict led me to begin reading about the teachings of Jesus, rather than just the Church's conceptualization of them. Once I began understanding that Christ wanted people to live like him, and to be loving and kind, compassionate, simply for the sake of being so, my eyes began to open. It was only then I began to look to the East, where I found the Daodejing. This led me to a serious practice of meditation, which I still try to incorporate into my day as often as I can. I began to feel lighter, in some ways, where my mind began to clear, and I was less and less affected by the concepts that I once identified with. It was painful, and it was filled with anxiety. There was a storm brewing in my mind, in my body, and in my essence, a storm that eventually quelled. I went from being a lone man on a boat, drifting on the ocean without an idea of where I was going or what I was doing, to realizing that I was the ocean, and that we are all the ocean. A little about myself personally. I am 24 years old and I study history, I am starting school again in September and I'm hoping to finish my undergraduate degree before moving on to my graduate degree. I live in New Jersey and I enjoy fishing, hiking, and anything to do with the outdoors. I enjoy going out with friends, and going out to restaurants and bars to experience new things, and new people. I'm so glad to be able to discuss things with a group of people who enjoy and try to live a life in balance with nature and those around us. I hope to become more open, and engage in discussions on the forums. I hope that I can be a good contributing member to Dao Bums. Thanks for having me everyone and I hope to speak to some of you soon!