The REAL Purpose of Meditation – To Be Able to Call Upon an Almost Mythical Calm and Poise in the Midst of Raging Storm All Around You. My own personal story recounted from tonight.

You know that you are becoming more centered when the following happens to you and you quickly gather your things up and go on your way as if nothing crazy occurred:

I was riding home tonight on my bicycle, listening to my MP3 player, nice gloves on, and a leather jacket; my usual satchel slung across one shoulder and riding along my right hip.  I had a grocery bag of stuff (a black t-shirt, a pair of white socks, a bagel with cream cheese in a plastic baggie, and a 24-oz bottle of spring water *un-opened*).  It was swinging from my right handlebar, as I was singing to one of the songs on my MP3 player…maybe Chicago’s “Look Away”, when a very strange and sudden series of events pulled me out of my goofy bliss.

The front tire locked up, and I rose up in the air, powerless to stop from being smashed down to the pavement of the parking lot of this liquor store, nor from sliding across the gravel on my palms and the meat of the underside of my forearms.  Luckily, I had several layers of jackets covering those arms, and thick gloves.  As all this was happening, I could feel that the front wheel was torquing around to the side and becoming inverted, which was causing the bike to kick out to the side, pulling my feet one way, and my head, the other.  Part of me was calmly observing this, and commenting, “Oh, that’s interesting…but I wonder why the front tire stopped in the first place? – Did I hit a rock?  I didn’t FEEL a rock.  Couldn’t have been a rock, then…”…this inane, insanely calm voice in my head just kept going on and on, as if it were merely watching a fascinating movie.  The other part of me was far less collected -“Oh shit, Oh SHIT, what do I do?  Slam on the brakes?  Cover my face?  My hands are still on the handlebars!  What if I break my neck? Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!….”

How it’s possible for a person to have two conversations going on in their head, simultaneously in such circumstances, is beyond me; but there I was, and then there I was, plastered on the ground, probably all of three seconds later.

What’s amazing, is how after about 5-10 seconds, after initially thinking the worst, my mind immediately bounced back, surveyed the damage – no broken bones, some scrapes, but nothing too severe, and the bike seemed ok.  When I got up, the MP3 player had slipped from my pocket and was lit up while dangling near the ground, being supported just by the strength of the ear buds still crammed in my ears and the slender cables attached to them.  I carefully put that MP3 player back in my pocket – a different song was playing now, “Big Baller, Shot Caller”, and I was jamming out to the lyrics and dancing a bit as I gathered my stuff together.

The plastic bag was completely torn to shreds and I immediately spotted the culprit….those pair of socks had somehow wedged themselves on either side of the brakes on my front tire.  The bag must have swung forward, got sucked in and then the socks must have gotten grabbed by the forward-moving tire, and then the two together, become like brakes, themselves, when those socks pinched down between the top of the fork and the tire.

I noticed that it only took me about 7 seconds to come up with a solution as to how to carry the rest of my stuff back home:  I snatched the t-shirt, stuffed the rest of those things in between the layers of fabric, (front and back of shirt) like a pocket; then tied the short sleeves twice…in an overhand knot; then an underhand one, in order to tie them securely.  I wrapped the bottom of the shirt around my hand and let it dangle down off of my right handlebar – this time, though, making sure that it didn’t swing into the path of the tire.

What’s really amazing here, is that this is real-world evidence that my mediation practice has practical benefits when it comes to staying calm and centered in the middle of an unexpected crisis.  Now different people may have varying notions as to what a crisis means to them; but for me, it was a sudden, very dangerous problem that created another issue immediately afterward; and I feel that I handled it with a tremendous amount of grace and clear thinking, all things considered.

To me…this is the TRUE power of meditation…giving you space to stay calm and in control of your emotions and thoughts, even when faced with the unexpected and the frightening, and possibly traumatic.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD from both childhood stuff, and from a stint in the United States Marines, as well as, about 5 years living on the streets through each winter.  This single event – (the abrupt being thrown from my bike right after I had been nestled warmly in thoughts of easy safety and security) – should have triggered my PTSD; and possibly even should have turned me into a basket case; yet it did not.

Often times when people meditate, they cannot detect the transformation occurring within themselves.  They may think that nothing is happening and that this meditation business is a complete waste of time.  But if they would stick with it – then, in time they would learn that it might be one of the single most effective methods of reversing lifelong behavior patterns and harmful ways of reacting, and all the extra emotional baggage that comes with going through an ordeal.

My first exposure to meditation was when Master Lenchus, in our Shotokan Karate class, had us kneel, and bow our heads down until our foreheads touched the floor, and close our eyes while he prayed something in reverence to the four elements, Earth, Air, Water, and Fire.  This seemed a very odd thing to do, but it’s what I remember.  When I was younger, I couldn’t figure out why he would make such a fuss about this particular practice.  I mean, I was here to learn how to fight, right?  How the heck was closing my eyes and breathing in and out and not moving a muscle gonna keep me from getting my ass kicked in high school?  I just didn’t get it.  And I wouldn’t….for years to come.  But what Master Lenchus taught us by example in that dojo, planted a seed in my young heart, and a question in my young mind….”What’s all this meditation stuff really about?”

Over a period of years and years, I kept coming back to that one question over and over again, until, one day, I decided to try it.  And even though, in the beginning, I started and stopped and started, and kept up that pattern for years – I eventually gained the self-discipline to stick with the practice and, today, it is an integral part of almost every day for me.

Today, I have a very deep and meaningful meditation, which helps relax my body and mind, re-energize my spirit and heart, and bring great focus and clarity to my goals in life.  But the most miraculous thing I can say that this meditation practice has given me, is a re-wiring of the neural pathways in my brain and my body, and a short-circuit of the past fight-or-flight reactionary impulses which have consistently led to doing the wrong thing and bringing strife and misery into my life over and over again.

I feel that I have gained great understanding, wisdom, discernment, empathy and a sense of detached non-judgment of others.

And so it is with great gratitude, I say this:

“Thank you, Master Lenchus, for taking the time each and every day that we went to that dojo – and instructing us to slow down, be silent, and be still, in order to show us how to meditate.  You showed by example and by consistency, that this was very important to you, and should be for us.  I don’t know where I would be, or what kind of man I might have become, had I not met you.”

David Lee Madison, Jr.
~Nate – street name
~KnavetheMage on Twitter
~ZenNinja
~Nate Love
~Dreamweaver
WordPress – Synergy, KnavetheMage, suprememasterjedi
Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO
Sunday, December 22, 2013 – 22:38

 

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“Break the Mold…Be Yourself – Be Bold”

This is an article I came up with when I didn’t want to write; AND it CAME from writing something really silly.    I was in a bad mood, with low energy; but I knew that I needed to write something, because I had set a promise to myself that every day I would write SOMETHING.  Here follows that silly bit of writing, which over a period of two days…(about twenty to thirty minutes each day), produced the main article:

I don’t want to write right now.  It doesn’t feel ‘right’; but that’s my anxiety.  That’s me playing a trick on me to keep me from becoming free.  It’s like the 5 – Tibetan Yoga that I didn’t want to do.  Maybe I felt that I didn’t have the energy to be authentic to gain anything from the experience.  Maybe I felt that to be me was not enough at that present moment and I wanted to avoid the discovery of not being enough, typed out in black and white.

 

And Here is the writing that followed from the stream of consciousness, above:

I’ve got this mantra…just created it today that goes like this:  “My Anxiety is just an energy not easily defined.  Yet I will transform that energy, in time, into the energy of my desire.”

We all come against ourselves.  This is the true test:  Not what one does to us, or what the world does to us.  The true test is what we do to ourselves.  When one comes against one’s self, they have a choice…to push on, or to retreat.  Coming against one’s self, is actually pushing against what is NOT one’s self – pushing that aside to discover what IS one’s self.

I am pushing against the non-creative, non-writer, perception of myself.  I’m pushing against the perfectionist who is too scared to move ahead, for fear of making some irreconcilable mistake.  I’m pushing against entrenched beliefs, structured into entire paradigms, which control every waking decision I make.  It is hard to do this, because it takes venturing forth in unknown territory where ANYTHING might happen.  That can be frightening; but it can also be exhilarating.  It also takes a bit of faith – that you will be ok, even if something goes wrong.

We grow up in this world, and here in the United States, anyway, we are shipped off to Kindergarten, then Grade School, Middle School, and finally High School, before going off to a college, University, or a trade school.  This is the traditional model.  And along the way, it is drummed into us all through this process, that mistakes are bad, collaborating with other people is bad (when it comes to tests and quizzes – which by my standards, in the real world…equate to projects) and it is extremely important to memorize or store up a bunch of facts and figures.

The APPLICATION of that knowledge doesn’t seem as important, as the accumulation of it (to our institutions of learning).  And then, creativity is discouraged when those teaching us ask, “Well, what is the right answer?”  Often times, in life, there are a number of right answers; and most times, that answer depends on who is asking and what their perspective is.  So, we are taught to get very good at guessing what someone else thinks is the right answer, but not what WE think those right answers might be.  We are taught to move away from trusting ourselves; and instead, are penalized if we don’t put that faith in someone else.

No wonder, when trying new things, we are afraid to commit any energy or much of our time to it.  I mean, what if we get it WRONG?!  That’s the worst thing that could happen, according to what our schools have been teaching us.  So, if we don’t have a ready-made set of rules for success or getting the right answer…a lot of us will steer away from anything that might smack of not being in that particular familiar style of textbook-multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank; but-only-choose-one scenario that we’ve all become so accustomed to.  It takes real courage to break out of that and become our own voice, our own seekers, and, ultimately, our own masters!

Oh, at times, we will need a mentor or a teacher; but their job is only to share with us a possible way; not to try to cram their whole theory into our heads.

Search for any of the great teachers in life; and you will find something perhaps startling…they all tend to ask many more questions while teaching, than facts.  It takes way more intelligence for a person to be led through a particular path of inquiry, and to make their own connections and ‘aha!-s’; than it does to simply remember some facts and figures.  And, it makes the learning become personal and ingrained, because the insights which the student comes to, is arrived at through the drawing from their own, unique life experiences.  I’m fairly certain, that to learn, one must have some kind of an established framework.  If the teacher simply hands over the answer, how likely is it that the student will work to pull together connections from their past knowledge in order to make new connections?

So go out there and be bold; and try new things.  You might be surprised to see who you could really become!

“Do You Have a ‘Relationship Language’ Solidly In Place?”

What I’ve found, is that we need to learn to speak the same language and use the same definitions when dealing with another person.

What that requires is a Relationship Language.  A what?!  A Relationship Language – a language or a set of definitions that both parties agree on beforehand – before they get into their first argument. 

What I mean by that, is that any single person has their own definitions of words and combinations of words, and gestures, and what that means to them, based on their past experience, culture, family and what they’ve gone on to learn.  But whenever two or more people gather together, issues can arise from the simple fact that each person has their own unique definitions drawn from unique experiences, and often people assume that they know what those definitions are, when they really don’t.

An example of this is when somebody replies defensively, “Hey.  It’s simply logic.  It’s common sense.  Anyone would know that.”; or “What do you mean you don’t understand?! – I’ve been telling you for the past half hour what I mean!  How can you honestly stand there and act like you are this dumb!?”

Ouch….Looks like these people need some “Non-Violent Communication” (NVC); or at least a common way to communicate, so that both parties can be relatively sure that they understand one another.

The thing is, people tend to assume that the other person can read their mind.  That’s too bad, because a lot of heartache could be avoided, if they would just take the time, sit down, and explain what they really mean by the words that they use.

Take, for example, my friend and I having an argument over the issue of the word, “work”.  It’s a simple word, not that long; and when you say, “I’m going to work”, most people know what you mean.  But when you refer to work as something other than your job; then things can take on a different meaning.  I’ve argued that by labeling something you might like to do, as ‘work’, simply because you’re getting paid for it,  it could cause you to have negative feelings associated with what you like to do!

To some, “work” means struggle, effort – ‘blood, sweat and tears’ – ‘by the sweat of your brow shall you toil’, (according to the Genesis, in the Bible).  But work could also simply mean the result after you put energy and action into something.  What if you really like to dance…stripper, hip hop, whatever; but you get paid to do it.  Is it still considered, ‘work’?  For some, it would be.  For others, it would not.  Some people might say it was a hobby that they got paid for.  If you are an escort or a Gigolo and you love to have sex…but you get paid for it – Does that constitute, ‘work’? –  Well, it wouldn’t for me.  But that’s just me.  And that’s just my point…everyone has a different definition and a string of definitions for every single word or symbol.  Figure out what that is; and you’ll be communicating like you never did before.  They’ll say something like, “It’s like you’ve known me my whole life!”, or “I was just going to say that!”, or “Wow, those are some pretty powerful psychic abilities you have there.  You read my mind!”

Let’s take another example. – A rather simple one that we’ve all heard:  A young salesman comes up to a lady, and says, “Can I help you, MAM?” – Boy! – Did he just stick his foot in his mouth?  In her mind, she’s going, “Oh, I look old enough to be called, ‘MAM’, now, do I?” – When this guy may have been raised in the South where it’s well known that boys are taught manners at a very early age; and this is simply a word of respect for him.

One last example here:  Remember high school math?  Maybe you’re still there learning about the ‘Order of Operations’.  Sound familiar?  If not, I’ll jog your memory for a moment:  The ‘Order of Operations’ can be remembered using an acronym of PEMDAS…Parenthesis, Exponets, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract. – And the reason why students are taught this is because there are times when a person is doing a math problem and they might come up with a different answer, having added, before they multiplied, possibly.  There has to be a standard, shared language across the board, so that when people say I did such and such and came up with this result; other people can follow them exactly to get the same result.  Imagine the chaos different car industries might go through if they tried to use the results from someone who didn’t know their ‘system’.

The small amount of time that you spend learning what your potential spouse’s Relationship Language – your friends’ or even someone you just met – will pay you back many times over and save you countless arguments and all that time trying to explain yourself while you are both angry or frustrated and not in your ‘right mind’.

I’ve discovered that the worst time to try and be logical with someone is when you are in the thick of a heated argument.  Rationality seems to go right out the window; and people get incensed over the stupidest things, when they should be trying to make their relationship stronger.  I mean, that’s the whole point, right?  – To remain in the relationship and to grow together; not split up because someone felt butt-hurt over a technicality, right?

So, do the right thing and think about the words you use and what they mean to you; and when things are going all cozy, start this conversation with your friend, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other…whatever. You’ll be glad you did; I promise!

David Lee Madison, Jr.
~Nate – street name
~KnavetheMage on Twitter
~ZenNinja
~Nate Love
~Dreamweaver
WordPressSynergy, Twitter: KnavetheMage, suprememasterjedi
Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO
Saturday, December 14, 2013 – 16:27