Thoughts by Richard Bleil
As Americans, we have a bad habit of dismissing anything that is not within our sphere of experience. I’ve blogged before about my joy in trying the cuisine of various cultures. In so doing, I’ve learned to love many beautiful and delicious dishes, even above and beyond the traditional “experimental” foods of Americans. But other cultures have so much more to offer than just their food.
Watching a movie with one of my favorite actresses, Queen Latifa, they had a scene of meditation. Now, I’m not an expert at meditation, but I’ve tried my own version of it. The way people who truly know what they are doing sit strikes me as a kind of yoga pose, but I fear if I actually tried yoga something might just snap off.
Yoga and martial arts have, as I understand it, an interesting symbiotic relationship. Yoga, as I understand it, re-aligns the body chakras, or energy centers. Martial arts, on the other hand, are designed to throw the chakras around. I’ve not had martial arts lessons since I was in middle school when I became a forty eighth level master. No, that’s a lie; never even earned a belt, but I took lessons from the older kid who lived down the road. Today, if I were to try martial arts again, I would want to find a sensei who understands and at least appreciates the spiritual component of the art.
Meditation I have tried, or at least my own version. I cannot sit with my legs crossed for long, but I periodically will try to sit in a comfortable position. Amazon actually has a lovely collection of meditation music designed to sooth and relax the mind. In fact, some of their apps will even set a little timer for you, or at least they used to. When I meditate, I just try to remain comfortable and relax my mind. I try to think of nothing, and when thoughts start to enter my mind, I am very aware of them and try to release them. I seek a quiet mind, something that’s very difficult for me.
After losing my job in Iowa, I was for a brief time living with a woman as I searched for a new job who was still at the institution that let me go. She would come home, almost every night, upset and angry. I tried to be supportive and offer her time to blow off steam, but every time she spoke of people with whom I was still upset it was painful to me, and usually she would scream until it was time for bed. It got to the point where I felt the need to take a little time just for me so I could let go of the anger she would build up while trying to release hers. So, I tried to introduce her to meditation as well.
Every night, I would start a little meditation music and try to get her to join me in calming our minds. Eventually I learned that she wasn’t really trying, but it was okay because she was respectful of me and my meditation. At least I could calm my mind a bit.
I need to start the habit again. Maybe once I’m in my new home. My life has been a series of such extreme ups and downs. Coming off of a dramatic downturn that lasted several years and resulted in countless losses, I’m starting an upturn again in my house. This past weekend, I failed at the motorcycle course, which I should be able to just let roll off of me, but it’s really hurting me. That’s, doubtless, a sign of stress getting to me, and a sign that I need to do something.
Having your own home is having freedom. That might seem odd since it seems to be more of an anchor, but in reality, it’s a home base. It’s where I can sleep in the nude without worrying about my friend’s daughter walking in unexpectedly. It’s where I can have my dumb bells and not worry about upsetting the people downstairs. It’s where I can have an office for side projects, put in work to make it better, cook whatever and whenever I wish, and just live, something I haven’t done in a long time. It’s also where I can meditate.
I cannot say if I’ve been meditating “correctly” or not, but I can tell you that whether it was the right way or not, it did help. It helped calm my mind before bed, quiet my demons and put my spirit to rest. I’m looking forward to resuming.