This is the second of my new initiatives, which ought to make fans of my written material a little happy.
I’ve been practicing meditation and various forms of spiritual contemplation, martial arts and yoga for almost 16 years now, and the thing I hear the most often is yeah, I really wanna learn how to do that, get centered, and meditate and stuff, I’m totally into the idea of self improvement.
Over the years, I’ve had the most unlikely people fairly beg me to teach them something that will help them get a better handle on their minds and bodies. Which from my perspective is kind of odd, because there is no ‘secret’, only bloody-minded persistance. Although I can empathise with those who can’t quite penetrate the jargon or wall of unneccisarily complicated crap that gets thrown up around these topics, and it is a legitimate concern.
So, granted that there are clearly many people who want to get into this and can’t quite, the idea here is very simple: to present a series of transformative practices, step by step in the simplest possible terms with an absolute minimum of technical language and digression. Bite sized, if you will, and adressed to the confused, distracted and totally dazed newcomer in all of us. No esoteric digressions, obscure refferences, or baroque wordplay. Either do it or don’t.
Throughout, I will be keeping in mind the hypothetical test subject: someone who is curious, but lacking in all but the most basic levels of interest and understanding, suffering from all the common anxieties, maladaptations and pitfalls we all do at various times.
and so, with no further preamble:
number one: channel your nervous energy into something physical
In my observation, the absolute paramount reason why people don’t succeed in transformative practices, is that they can’t still their bodies or their minds for any significant length of time. And the reason for that is simple: humans are built to move, and wired to respond to anxiety through motion.
In modern society, those instincts are heavily conditioned out of us. When we’re bored, angry or upset, we’re trained to sit through the class, through the meeting, through the crap on television, the passive aggressive tone of many social interactions, and internalise that nervous energy, which turns us, mentally, into the proverbial chickens on crystal meth.
The first thing you need to do, to whatever extent you’re falling prey to this odd reversal, is to get up and do something: run, do push-ups, lift weights, ride a bike, do martial arts, wrestle with your significant other, get laid.
Doesn’t matter. It should be rigorous enough to tire you out physically, that’s the only criteria. This will also go a ways towards breaking up any acculumated tension around your chest and diaphraghm, which will help your breathing practice later.
I don’t care about your tight buns or washboard stomach, but when your mental agitation has been shunted into a physical exertion, your mind will automatically get a lot quieter. Too many of us are floating heads with no grounding in the reality of bodies. It’s all well and good to have a universe of ideas in your head, but pretending you have no bodily component feeding into your mental process is asking for trouble.
Under those conditions, sitting still, letting alone feeling calm, are out of the question. So fix it right now, and get in the habit of doing it on a regular basis. You will end up feeling a lot less frantic and confused, and everything else will seem a whole lot easier.
next one tomorrow…