Morning Meditations #113: Another Sliver of Practice

MM 113
I picked these two up yesterday at the Dickson Street Bookshop. Under twenty bucks for two legendary authors in first editions. Excited to say the least.

Officially day four of 04:20 wake ups. This morning wasn’t a challenge, and here I am at the keyboard, still four minutes until five. Even in Arkansas, when one wakes this early, it’s always nice. The humidity isn’t too heavy, obviously the temperatures aren’t soaring, and the bugs and evening noises are still in a nice rhythm. Syncopated to the night, the morning approaches. Read More »

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Morning Meditations #109: Singing Of Two Selves

MM 109
Plum heavy smoothies. One for me and one for Ivy.  The definition of fun.

I received almost no flack for my political rant last MM. Fascinating, there I was, all ready and willing, holding a stance to defend my self with toned down science and statistical analysis. I just knew so many would openly oppose. Wrong again. Nobody criticized the blog post and those I engaged socially, even those that disagreed somewhat, understood my position and choice to vote Blue. I love being wrong. When I am wrong, wonderful things seem to happen. Indeed, while yesterday didn’t fit the description of “stupendous” or “mind-blowing” exactly, either of those words could, and in all likelihood should, be used to describe yesterday. It isn’t often I get nostalgic, but when I do, I value the state of mind. Rarity is something I commonly respect at a high level, statistics are one of my teachers after all, but I still tend to not make a big deal out of nostalgia for some reasons I mention later. Someone I met recently claimed to be hyper nostalgic, and they seemed to be genuinely so, showing me picture after picture and quickly captioning each pic with a two sentence story. I didn’t have an episode quite like that, rather something subtle led to the feeling. “Subtle” may be the best description of yesterday.Read More »

Morning Meditations #107: We Are Not Friends

Ah. Letting go. Listen to the moment of silence that follows this sentence.

MM 107

That is the sound of recognition. The speed at which realization hits is terrible. Like an ice bucket challenge, my mind has a spasm of disgust and denial, followed by calm. And while I am disappointed by the realization, there is a lot of freedom in the truth. This time I speak of wanting to remain friends with an ex, which is something I have done successfully, with one ex. We all realize it’s an uphill battle and is often unwise. And now that I have realized that it isn’t going to happen, not anytime soon anyway, peace is starting rise. You know, I really wanted this one. Oh well, into the moment I go.Read More »

Morning Meditations: #106: The Meditating Atheist Yoga Greenhorn

MM 106
Just so we are clear.  I am not this good, yet.  Working on it.

I haven’t spoken about my meditation or yoga practices in a long time. Haven’t been the most diligent writer either. Most of this is due to a heavy research phase, and reading the books of people I admire has been a great joy this year. What has been learned is nothing short of life changing. But a great research period should change you. Otherwise, you might be doing the wrong type of research. Still, this doesn’t excuse the lack of communication with my Gentle Readers, and for that I apologize. With that, it might be time to spend the next several posts on what makes this blog interesting, the meditating-atheist yoga-greenhorn. Read More »

Morning Meditations #105: The Seeds of Gratitude

MM 105 ASomething’s changed in me. I don’t know what it is really. Something about the way my mind is working. It isn’t a dramatic change. (Ivy just came in, handed me a cupcake, looked to the laptop monitor and said, “Daddy, you’re doing a pretty good job of writing.” The sheer force of a father’s love is breathtaking at times) The change came while taking refuge at my mother’s house after a hectic few weeks full of pain, pleasure, and change. And today, the storm has come home.Read More »

Morning Meditations #104: This is Rance

MM 104I found this along with a picture the other day. I wanted to publish it before I release it to fire. It is times like this when it’s the hardest.

This is Rance

1. Your devotion to and love for Ivy

2. that you been knocked down so many times and you still get back up (you perseverance)

3. you genuine, head-thrown back laugh

4. the way you look when you play drums

5. the way you sound when you play drums

6. how strong you can be, even when you are in pain

7. you fervor for TED Talks

8. the you care for and invest into Anthony

9. the way you have cared for Brady

10. the way in which you cared for me in some of my lowest moments

11. Papa Bear

12. your love of words/language

13. your use of mowing the lawn as a contemplative act

14. the perseverance required to keep doing physical therapy, especially when you had stopped for several weeks

15. your ability to cry, feel emotions so deeply

16. your loyalty to your friendships

17. your desire to help others

18. your choice to seek professional help

19. your love of cooking/smoothie making

20. your thirst for knowledge

21. magic coffee

22. many of the ways you choose to raise Ivy, which are innovative and have her best interest at heart

23. you patience

24. the way you strive to bring into/create your life, the things you want

25. your innovative constructions of makeshift furniture

26. your flexibility with others’ preferences

27. the strength it took to quit smoking, and stay quit

28. your openness to a new level of relationship with your father

29. your ongoing internal soundtrack

30. your dedication to therapy/health

I have wanted to do this all day. Clutching the hard copy of this, I hadn’t expected to see it, and now, I don’t want to let it go. I remember when this list had been composed, when I read it aloud, around eleven months ago. While I haven’t held up to everything on this list, and I don’t think I deserve some of the praise. It revealed how I could be seen by someone if you took out all the bad stuff, a pretty picture I suppose. Although, I still prefer the real one.

The whole picture, which includes this list, is one of many negative factors. Wall punching rage that would have to fade for me to come home to myself. The intense jealousy when she started seeing someone else revealed a deep devotion once accepted. The feeling of intense loneliness I felt upon finding the picture of her, Ivy, and I, and the evidence of understanding in knowing two items cannot stay here. She’ll never be an object of desire in my life, and the time the picture represented is drifting further and further away. She is a whole and amazing person, the one I chose, for better or for worse.

Sometimes I don’t want it to be this way.

Sometimes I am thankful that I can feel this strong for so long.

This is me.

Morning Meditations # 99: Struggling for Focus and Feeling It Return

It is rare that I begin composing an MM the evening before I intend to publish, but this happens to be one of those times. Even though the events presented will be in chronological order, they were not composed that way. The compositional equivalent to movie magic.

Yesterday was one of those days when one meditation would have to do. Not a particularly long event, I did feel a little bit deflated. One of my uncompromisable goals being the six-hour meditation period, there is a little worry, as I have not “trained” as extensively as I had in the fall. Andyesterday’s efforts resulted in a blasé response from my psyche. May have had something to do with the heat.

As an old Arkansas boy, I realize that the temp isn’t in it’s extremes yet, but I’ve never tried extensive outdoor meditation under these conditions. The biting insects and droplets of sweat tracing trails of distraction every second can cloud the mind as much as a busy street. The fight would define the day.

I have a feeling it drained me more than I realize. While I did come out of the session with great clarity, as I studied half the day away afterward, my body told me, and is still telling me, that I didn’t come out unscathed. Sluggishness would persist through those hours of study. Frequent breaks were need to regain focus and stretch my fatiguing legs. And while these are reasonably good study habits without discomfort, the feeling that I had less left in the tank after every intermission would follow me into the evening. When I finally decided I could work no more, it was nearing 18:00, and the desire for a meal had nearly taken over. I ate a Cutie while the fire that would burn through the night began taking form. There are some fold-out grates for cooking always ready, and by the time the sausages were making the fire sizzle, I was too.

Before sleep would take me, which would come early, the task of sending an email and trying to make a few short-notice River Valley contacts found completion.  Wearily I wandered back to my campsite. I wanted to read but I couldn’t summon the strength to hold up the paperback version of Small Gods by Pratchett, which has been reserved for text access only so that I stay on top of my writing and research goals.

The toads and frogs were loud. Unconsciousness came quickly.

I woke this morning with a sore neck and tight quads. A high water intake had been maintained yesterday, so I felt fine. But, the hammys threatened to be immobile and my calves quivered a little with spasm. I sat there wondering how these caudal appendages would function. I gathered my moxie and unzipped the tent. One foot, two feet, good. Taking several paces away from camp I made my morning check in with the wild life by leaving my mark. I felt amazing, the soreness aside. Pain is one of my good friends; we used to be at odds, and there is some times and places where it isn’t welcome, but I kind of like my discomfort these days. It allows me to give attention to those aging and ailing parts. I find that when I do, the whole mind-body system provides fulfillment within itself.

Yes, just the very process of tending to my pain is a part of life that fills me with pride and joy. There was a time when I felt trapped and limited by my pain. Now, tending to it is one of the very things that often get me from my bed and into the flow.

After this little yoga session, I began to organize my trip back into the city. Once organized, I decided to see how mediation would treat me today, seeing as I didn’t do a bedtime one last night.

A little internally noisy for my taste. Had to bring myself back from daydream over and over again. When I stood from my meditation perch, I felt calm. Relieved.

MM 99
The fountain outside of the Fort Smith Public Library.

I do have one bitch about this retreat thus far. Of the six businesses I have tried to patron, five have been closed. I even used the Fort Smith shop local business site. Have fallen flat on my face. Fortunately, I have only ventured to one major retailer, and have found alternate ways to navigate, but I still lack incense. Where does one buy incense in this town? I shall keep looking.

 

Morning Meditations #97: The New Philisophitroll

MM 97 A


For those of you that are unaware, I am chief and contributing editor for The Free Thinking Press.com, and yesterday, I published my fifth edition ofQuotes Revealed.” The inspiration came from a personal message by a cat who attempted to bible-thump me. This is the first attempt of scriptural assault in quite a while, and I admit I have continued to comment back at this trollish creature. Typical hypocrisy and contradiction one inevitably finds in the religious of the world prevail in this unfortunate individual. So how does this apply to MM?Read More »

Morning Meditations #95: Summertime Sadness

MM 95
Everyone has been eating the mulberries off our tree in the back yard, as this is the first year it has been mature enough to produce edible fruit.  This process has also allowed it to be come the gladiator pit for birds and squirrels.

I have been in a horrible mood over the last 72 hours. Many factors contribute. Some of which are home related. Summers coming for one thing, which means I get to gear up for the common hardships of summer, and I refer to more than hot temps and mosquitoes.Over the last 8 years, summer has had one prevailing theme, difficulty, heartbreak, and loss. That part of the season has already begun. Read More »

Morning Meditations #93: An Emotional Addict

94 A
So, I was at Peenemunde this past weekend and these buggers were in the garage. The mother moved them after I discovered them. The one on the far right liked Nova and I best.

I am an addict. Often this is a word loaded with negative connotation. And why shouldn’t it be? I admit that I struggle with nicotine addiction, of which I am usually winning the battle. I say nicotine, but really I just like smoking things. That feeling of inhaling, filling your lungs, followed by the slow creep of an altered state. Oh yes, I am addicted. Of course I feel no shame here. We are all addicted to various things. Some of us have an addiction to crochet (yeah, looking at you, Amber). Some of us gambling, sex, cooking, sports, even the Dali Lama warns about becoming addicted to meditation when it’s new to the mind, saying in the book Tibet, Tibet, “”In the West, I do not think it advisable to follow Buddhism. Changing religions is not like changing professions. Excitement lessens over the years, and soon you are not excited, and then where are you? Homeless inside yourself.”

But, why would he say that about a system which is based around bringing inner peace? Is there a hint here? A hint that the Dali Lama knows fulfillment from what brings one peace is a slippery slope. The feeling of being at peace is in itself a perception based on brain states. Thus susceptible to the concept of being an altered state. Addicted to inner peace? What does that even look like?

I’ll present a possibility. If one finds inner peace through prolonged meditation, and every time something stressful reared its ugly head, you sought that refuge, one would soon find themselves denying their problems, or at the very minimum avoiding them. Genuinely difficult obligations to friends and loved ones could be shunted aside questing for Nirvana. The social toll on a local environment, which then spreads to a greater community problem is a possibility under these circumstances.

Far fetched? Reaching? Maybe. Addiction to inner peace isn’t really what my point is here.

I am an addict.

My addictions run deeper than “smokes and road beers.” The addictions which have caused me the most turmoil are the ones within me already. My largest daily struggle is with emotional addiction. This is likely one of, if not the most, understudied form of addiction.

That statement is only a theory. So, I entered “emotional addiction” into Google’s search bar and got this:MM 94 B

Two entries in “84,200,000 results,” awesome.

I guess maybe it isn’t an issue? I didn’t really consider these two entries “reliable” sources, and everyone else seems to focus on the psychological issue of what addiction can do to the mind. I understand why that is so important, and I want the field of neuroscience and medicine to continue to study them, at in increase even. Yet, I also want us to recognize that sobriety may be an illusion of norm. Brains are constantly changing, so what is considered normal or “sober” must be quite flexible under these circumstances. When you become extremely excited by something, chemicals flood the brain changing the way you behave and respond. When a person is laughing at their hardest, they are virtually incapable of responding “normally” to stimuli. A person lost in fantasy about a potential new love interest can sit through a conversation without hearing a word of it.

If texting while driving should be illegal, so should daydreaming and driving, or laughing and driving.

I seriously crave my emotional highs, and lows. No two ways about it. This first came to my attention nearly a year ago. One of the many factors which led to my counseling sessions is my addiction to anger. I didn’t like my rage, but I felt righteous and strong during those times of intense anger. I knew I could alter reality with the slamming of a fist, a wrathful gaze, and/or the launching of a bookshelf. I knew why god destroyed man. When I am in that state, I want to see the world on fire all around me. I want suffering. “Become vengeance, David. Become, wrath.”

Conversely, I also crave my sadness. When I feel my most vulnerable, when I feel my weakest, is when I am often most inspired to create and self affirm. I want that sadness trigger. Feeling the tears roll down my cheeks and the constant nose drip reinforce the emotional pain with which my perception is sometimes in constant contact. This turns into MMs, articles, drum lines, study, and research. I love all of my art, but feeling so much sadness all the time will have serious adverse physical effects. No to mention psychological effects on those depending on you, depending on you to show them joy too.

The obvious solution is balance, but true balance is an unsustainable goal within a mental system. Indeed, likely within every system. Every bridge will fall eventually, and one cannot stand on their head forever. Even locomotion is obtained by continuously falling forward and catching yourself. The very process of walking requires imbalance.

My approach is similar to that of walking. I let myself fall. Realizing that I must also catch myself. I will do it on purpose these days.

I can usually feel the sadness coming.

MM 94 CYesterday, it was a picture of my recently passed and most loyal friend, D, which appeared as a memory reminder at the top of my FB app. The picture was of Darian at one of my shows from seven yeas ago. He looked so happy, and I am sure he was, to be at a concert that his friends were playing at was one of his greatest joys. Understanding that this was going to be a rough one for me, I set myself up countermeasures. Opened my office computer up and loaded documents to edit for the press site. I also covered a part of my bed with research and study material. Rather than spin out, I would have genuine loci for my response to a brain state.

As I am an addict, I will not just hop out of a sad state. I will spend hours on the edge of my bed, tear after tear, replaying the trigger event or thought, like a junky with an always loaded kit.

Using the principles of meditation I have harnessed for years, once I have acknowledged my state of being and noticed a reflective moment—clarity—I try to move to my balance behaviors already enabled in my comfort zones.

I fail, a lot.

I try to repeat the process. It isn’t just sadness. I will spend a whole day imagining possibilities that flood my brain with dopamine. I feel like I am figuring out the worlds problems, locked in with laser focus to idea after idea, while the whole day spins a way, no dishes done, no laundry folded, no money made. When I come to, as guilt and depression seep in over the neglect of my responsibility, the sadness battle begins, but we are all busy. The type of self-care I was able to deploy yesterday isn’t always available. In this way, I have to be ever vigilant.

This is why working “regular” jobs has always failed for me. Imagine trying to regulate the scenario I just depicted behind a liquor store counter or in a cubicle. I fall to dependency, depression, and anxiety within a couple of years, or as quickly as three months. Everyone questions why someone of my talents struggle with resources, as I have all the pieces for success and at times have been considered successful. Always a falling house of cards without acknowledgment of my problem.

I like to think I work very hard at my trade, artistry. It isn’t currently earning me enough to be sustainable in the long-term, but that is what hard work will often bear out, if you know yourself, at least at some seriously uncomfortable levels. I see myself more clearly than ever before, and at that too, I intend to keep working very hard.