Yeah, well, These Days... World’s in turmoil – dirty politicians, befuddled bureaucracies, stress in the air along with the aerosols, ash, and CO2. Yes, there are brave new and brave old politicians stepping into the light, hopefully to lead us into the promised land. But true liberation? It’s up to us.
Seems to me these days are all about changing patterns. Getting a real grip on the value, the weight, of the present. Because what else is there now? The future has never been more fractured, turbulent and yet opaque, has never been more filled with positivity and potential yet simultaneously harboring ominous consequences of years of inattention. It has never been so up in the air, and yet to a greater extent, in our hands. So what else can we hang on to right now except for each other, except for the present?
Rejiggering patterns. Learning new ways. Inventing new approaches to everything. Like trying to land smack-dab in the present. To wit, I have just recently set a daily alert on my phone to Meditate at 6:30. Of course some days I reject the idea, due to laziness, or more likely eagerness to instead cut away from a day of surprisingly numerous obstacles dropped in my path and have a glass of wine. The quick fix. But when I do sit, I find a new self sitting with me. Who is that determined girl willing to set aside her teeming mind for half an hour for the mere possibility of a glimpse of bliss, or knowingness, or something wonderfully other? Is that me? Yeah, just trying to change my patterns.
By the way, I’m no slam-dunk meditator. I’ve tried every form along the way, and although a few have accompanied me through rocky times, none have managed to stick. I tried Hindu Chakra meditation in my late twenties, knowing that my headlong rush into punk culture in New York was not a route leading me into the light. I did learn a lot about the possibilities for transcendence, but my life suddenly swerved into a fast lane (more about that in my upcoming novel set in early 80’s, downtown Manhattan). I even tried a bit of Tibetan Buddhism which, while alluring and exotic (loved the colors and symbols), proved to be beyond my attentional/devotional level at the time – all those prostrations? Later, amidst the unsettling drama of divorce, I ran into an avid, actually evangelical, Nichiren Daishonen practitioner who got me chanting for a while, but again, geographical moves and then a new partner, somehow swept me out of that particular zone. I also found it off-putting when some of the other adherents revealed, after chanting in a group, a focus on very specific, and mundane, real world things. Somehow that did not fit my transcendence idiom.
My next foray was into Zen. I was really excited by a few sessions of sitting with some serious Zen practitioners, but ultimately found it too austere for my generally hedonistic nature. I crack all this experimentation up to a phenomenon I refer to in HER ARGUMENT, something I call my Tigger Redux syndrome. Also in HER ARGUMENT, I chronicle a most amazing Zen retreat in California’s Gold Country. Returning to LA from that however, with no Zen center anywhere nearby, it was hard to keep up the practice. Fair weather meditator, that’s me. Although I am always able to zero in on a form of meditation called ‘walking meditation’. My version below is a proprietary version 🙂
At any rate, I am persistent. So here I am again, looking for higher planes. Sometimes I can just comfortably sink onto my cushion and connect to that yogic principle of attention to prana, to simple breathing. Because all the standard methods have seemed too, well, external. But prana focus doesn’t always work, especially when my brain is dazzled by a vortex of whirling fragments. Since I always have my phone beside me (I rely on my phone’s timer, don’t have to think about when to stop and can usually hit around 20 minutes) my phone is there if I need some sounds to push me out of myself. On Apple Music there are plenty of meditation compilations, some cheesy, but also some gems by truly gifted musicians, Indian, American, Tibetan.
I’m partial to Tibetan singing bowls, which are often incorporated with the sound of babbling streams. Apple Music includes one I like by Sonic Yogi, in their Pure Meditation playlist… But it’s all so personal. Which instruments should be included, whether or not you can handle synthesized sound, if heartbeats freak you out like they do me, or if you find any sort of melody intrusive as I usually do. A composer, “internationally recognized” sound healer, named Jonathan Goldman, has done lots of recordings worth trying. Some are less inflected with new age tropes than others. In that same Apple playlist, there are some flutists whose playing has an enticing Pan-like quality. Anyhow if you’re a practicer of Tigger meditation, try their playlist and see what you like. I also listen at times to purely natural sounds like falling rain or lapping waves. It isn’t even necessary to meditate to find these works adept at untangling complicated psychic states.
But really, the summation of inner change in my world is a becoming, a becoming acquainted with the present. A New Present ~ I feel it is an opportunity – to birth new ideas, forge new alliances, meet new selves. I sense that for many of us this means delving into a new project, a new movement, a new business. In my case it’s a new book. Whatever it is, I believe there is an amazing empowerment being channeled through us. So many people uniting to advance equality and justice and, dare I say it, sanity?
So back to that meditation thing. Back to where I find myself inhabiting a present more expansive, more conscious than ever; a present whose tempo has slowed so far down I feel like I’m meeting it for the first time, actually like I’m tripping. Hello Present! You present yourself to me like a present!