By Zach Hively
Sari Salisbury is a fixture at the Dharma Center, but it took a serious kick in the pants to get her meditating in the first place.
“I slipped on a carpeted stairway, and my heels went out, and I landed on my sacroiliac,” says Sari. “I went BOOM BOOM BOOM down the steps. Really cracked it. And I had to ride back home on a plane the next day.”
On that flight, she sat on a donut pillow and stared at the seat ahead as she thought, “you know, I think I want to learn to meditate.”
Years later, Sari, who has a degree in biology and was a health educator, read that the sacroiliac was given its name—the Latin rootsacer means “holy”—because of the ancient belief that the sacrum is where the spirit enters the body. “And I got a whack on mine!” she laughs.
That moment laid the foundation of Sari’s dedicated meditation practice. In fact, when she decided to move away from California, one of her main requirements in a new hometown was a dedicated sangha. Now Sari has lived in Durango for the better part of twenty years. She’s probably one of the few seniors who moved here because she loves the winter, she says—that, and her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren live here.
But, critically, she also found the Dharma Center, which then was called Durango Sangha. It was only a few members who met in each other’s homes. “I started when it was just a living room affair,” Sari says.
In the years since, as a steadfast practitioner, she has watched as the sangha has grown from a handful of members into the vibrant community it is today. “There’s a delightful part of knowing there are that many people who have found out that Buddhism has some real practical value to it—and that meditation is magic,” she says. “I know it makes my life go better.”
In addition to her meditation practice, what feeds Sari’s spirit is the sense of community in the Dharma Center. To her, the sangha relationship and relating to other people are as important, if not more so, than the meditation she does.
That’s why volunteering is such a valuable aspect of her life. She’s helped start a number of programs at the center, including the mindfulness 12 Step group and the extended sitting group, and she enjoys creating opportunities for other people to develop themselves as human beings through their own volunteer service and dharma practice.
“People are very generous with their volunteering,” Sari says. “Buddha says you receive so much when you get the idea you want to give. And when you give, it feels so good. And when you think about it afterwards, it still feels wonderful. It’s a good glowing feeling.”
“I want to do my part,” she adds. “It’s a way of caring. I’ll be surprised if, when I die, I am not still volunteering in something.”