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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“A Letter to Dad”

(The names have been changed to protect my friends’ rights to privacy.  Additionally, I have avoided giving too much detail, which might identify my friends, in case someone they know reads this blog.)

This was an email I sent my dad tonight, who has Multiple Sclerosis.  He’s been bed-ridden for a year or more; and his last email says that the disease has progressed to the point where he is now waiting for a nursing home to open up and take him.  When I was just a boy, he was my best friend.  As I grew older, our relationship grew more and more strained, until we stopped communicating all together for a very long time.  Just recently, after speaking with my close friend about his extremely caustic relationship with his mother – I began giving him advice.  Of course, if you are willing to give advice, you should be willing to take it…if it applies.  It did.  I needed to attempt to heal the relationship between my father and I, somehow.

He is going to pass away at some point, and I didn’t want that to happen before I had a chance to say how I really felt about him and what impact he had on my life.  In the past I had focused so much on my own pain and misery, that I could not really see what was going on.  I spewed hatred and bitterness everywhere I went.  I hated myself.  I hated my father.  I hated my mother.  I hated the world; and I didn’t trust anyone.  The miracle is – how did I ever manage to become removed from all of that and begin my healing?

Something greater than me has stepped in.  I am sure of it.  And so, in the spirit of generosity and appreciation, I say with a very warm heart, Thank you, whoever or whatever has watched over me all of these years.  I know that you were there; even if I couldn’t feel you at times.  You have guided me, protected me and brought me to this place and time of forgiveness for myself and for those who I felt did me harm when I was younger.  If there is a God; then this bit of song which I love to sing applies, here, I think:
~Our God is an Awesome God- He Reins… from the Heavens Above, with Wisdom, Power and Love – Our God is an Awesome God!~

To Dad:
Remember when I was at one of the foster homes; and you recorded two cassette tapes of songs on my birthday?  You would spend a few seconds to introduce the next song coming up.
I really appreciated that.

I think I wore those tapes out, playing them over and over and over again.  Each time I did, I thought about coming home again.  It got me through some really tough times.  Thank you.

My friend Sam went through some very traumatic stuff with his mom when he was just a kid.  She nearly killed him several times, driving drunk.  He literally, had to, as a kid, grab the steering wheel out of her hand, so they wouldn’t drive into a concrete divider on the highway; and shake her awake.

When he tells me this stuff, I let him talk for a bit, because he needs to speak about it.  He needs to acknowledge it.  But after a time, I begin to steer him toward what he wants to get out of his relationship with his mom, now.  Now is all we really have.  And I hate to see him waste his, now, on bitterness, so I have repeatedly asked him to focus on the things that were good between him and his mother.  Over the course of a few weeks, he has increasingly been able to do so; and what started out as hate, and anger and all the why’s of why she did this to him as a little kid; and why can’t she just admit some of it…..he’s starting to feel the love he felt and has wanted to feel for so long, for her.

As a man, I have had to make really tough choices:

One of those choices led me to walk away from a girlfriend/friend who kept drinking and drugging, because it was keeping me from being able to stop, myself.  I still like her and think about her.  I care about her; but I had to do that in order to get my own life straight.

It’s these kinds of choices, I feel, which make the difference between a boy, and a man; or a girl and a woman.  When you told me, that I had the makings of being a leader, I couldn’t see it, all those years ago.  All I could see was that I was unpopular, felt confused and no girl seemed to want to be with me.  I tried to change all the outward stuff, hoping that that would somehow change me and that people would want to be close to me.  In time, I saw that changing my outward appearance, was a very SMALL part of changing the conditions in my life; but where I would need to focus most of my attention, would have to be on my character.

I came to this conclusion very slowly and very painfully, when I started looking for a way to avoid being poor; and instead, studied the ways of the wealthy.  I gave up, for the most part, reading fantasy and science fiction; and began a steady diet of self-help books.  It was a painful process, because the last thing I wanted to really do, was to change myself – that takes courage, conviction, commitment, consistency and discipline – all of which, I was sorely lacking, at the time.

Some of these books would have exercises to do.  I wouldn’t do them.  The most I would do, was imagine doing the exercise.  Yet, I kept coming across these books that told me that if I really wanted to change, then reading the book would not be enough.  I would have to take action.  Because I had created a habit of reading these kinds of books; I kept coming across this message, until one day, I picked up a pen and piece of paper and tentatively began an exercise in the book I was reading.  But as my courage grew and my yearning to change grew stronger, I did more and more of these exercises. – And the course that this has set me upon has been so powerful that it literally changed my life.

So, yes, I am becoming a leader; but I am certain that I could never have done so, had I not been in pain.  It was the pain that forced me to take a look at myself, that caused me to have such a burning desire for change and transformation, that I would become intimately acquainted with fear, and what it takes to overcome it – or pain, and what it takes to push through it.  How could I ever have hoped to lead people, if I had not gone through my own hell?  How could I ever have related?  Even if I tried, what advice or real-life problem-solving action could I have taken?  If I had tried to rely on some text-book knowledge that I had read out of a field guide for leaders – the most I would have accomplished, was regurgitating what someone else wrote – with no thoughts of my own that had been congealed over time and experience.

Facing failure after failure and learning that that is not the end; has given me the ability to not see myself as a FAILURE, but more as a scientist, who will eventually find what he seeks.  I may have gotten people to follow, but as soon as REAL problems arose, my lack of character would have shown through and people would have lost faith in me; and maybe, even, themselves.  If I am in a crisis situation in the future…I cannot afford for this to happen.  Lives might be at stake; or something greater.

So, looking back on my life, even though the lessons have, at times, been very difficult – I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to have gone through them.  Most people would never say that – And that is precisely why I will be a leader among leaders.

Most of that has to do with how you brought me up:  Your advice.  Your quotes like, “If man thinks he can; or a man thinks he can’t – he is generally right”; and “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”.  Your love of knowledge and being more than just average.  Your love of the mind and logic.  Your multiple interests.  Your curiosity and playing with science.  Your anger and passion for life.  Your jokes and lighter side.  Your wanting to teach other people what you had discovered…Your need to think for yourself —- I watched that, and began to incorporate it into my being at an early age.  I didn’t know what was happening, but I was being transformed.  My little body and mind and heart were going through an alchemical transformation; yet, I was unaware.

So, I want to thank you.  I want to thank you for the time when we were watching a football game; and you smelled something burning and grabbed a hot frying pan with your bare hand; had to go to the sliding glass door, slam it open and dump it outside on the deck.  You acted without worrying about your fears; got a second or third degree burn for your bravery and selflessness.

Later, while I was in the Marines.  My corporal had dove into the water and the other corporal froze when she realized that he was in trouble.  I acted without thinking, endangering my own life, getting my glasses knocked off; and having the water pull me down in between the big stones of coral…ripping my my back to shreds and my hands and my feet, after bracing with all my might, so I wouldn’t be sucked under.  Even after all that – after having failed to help him and nearly dying, myself, I still went and crawled back over to him and pulled him out of the water.  I calmed my mind and noticed that if I used the tide, it would buoy up his body weight and would be able to pull him up onto the rocks, safely.

These are things I did not share with you; or if I did – not the whole story.

I just want you to know, that I am the kind of man I am, mostly, because of you.  Words cannot express all that I feel for you, though in this email, I have tried.

Dave

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
Monday, December 16, 2013 – 01:27

“The Importance of the Relationship, Irrespective of Money”

I was sitting in the bathtub, as I often do when reflecting, and I came to the conclusion that in order to preserve relationships or build them even stronger, we could be sensitive to what that person is willing to trade, in terms of money, time, things, energy, or advice.

A personal relationship floated up to my awareness concerning this woman said to me once, “Wow, thanks.  You really didn’t have to do that.  That was nice of you.”, with a big smile on her face.

As money became tighter in my life, though, I found myself moving into business mode with her:  I wanted to make sure she paid me my money’s worth – and forgot about the effect that that might have on our relationship.

I’m going to be a businessman – there’s no doubt in my mind about that.  However, do I want to be the type of businessman who people are jazzed about doing business and being personal with; or do I want to be the kind of guy people shy away from because of my lack of caring and consideration to where they are in life or what they might be going through at the moment?

If I had a choice, and I believe that I do – I would choose the guy who people instinctively WANT to be around; the one that they call up and ask to visit, just for the hell of it.  That’s the guy I want to be.

The relationships that I build between myself and others needs to take priority in my life, irrespective of money.

Now, what I’m NOT saying, is that money isn’t important.  It is.  It’s crucial in the society that we live in.  But, its importance should never overshadow the friendships and the warmth and loyalty that I want to attract.  Ever.

After reviewing how my actions appeared to be affecting the vibe between us…I was ready to try something else:

And this is when I came up with this great thought:

 

What if I if I was willing to receive what people were willing and able to give; and stopped demanding that I receive payment in a certain way?  What I’m getting at here, is that money is often the medium of easiest exchange:  I do this or that for you; or give you this or that – and in exchange you give me some money, which I will later use to trade in for some other thing that I want, right?

Instead, if I could learn to recognize what someone is capable of giving and WANTS to give me, and was adept enough at exchange and self aware enough to figure out what I NEEDED; and found some way of making those two things work in harmony. – that would be amazing!  That would totally transform the relationship’s dynamic with every single person I met, wouldn’t it?

Was this relevant to you?  If so, please leave a comment or a short little story of how you might have applied this in your life.  Because I don’t just write to share my thoughts; but to affect change, as well.

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

Thursday, December 5, 20134:38