Between the trigger and the shot

Ruin, Brentwood, California

Ruin, Brentwood, California

Freedom from reactivity

It happens to the best of us.

We have an automatic angry response to a loved one or a co-worker. Someone "pushes our button," and we fire in retaliation. The other person had no idea that this huge reaction was coming. The response is so outsized, so inappropriate to the circumstance in the present, that our friend recoils in confusion. They may develop the opinion, not unfounded, that we are untrustworthy. They will be loath to relax and let down their guard with us again.

When we have an overwhelming life experience at any age, we store the emotional stress and the corresponding triggers (associated sense memories) within our bodies. Any similar sense experience can suddenly release the emotional energy we have been storing.

Vedic Meditation gives us a chance to safely release this stress over time and be rid of it forever. We can experience a lightness, a feeling of being "right-sized" again and experiencing stress in a much more balanced and manageable way. We experience the trigger, but before we react, we find it possible to mind our manners towards others. We have been placed in a position of neutrality in relation to our reactions.

Of course we are still human and can become overwhelmed by circumstances again, acting out towards the world and others. We are not perfect. We can, however, improve over time, and these events become fewer and farther between. This is my own experience as a meditator, and my students report similar feedback to me as a teacher.

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.
Mahatma Gandhi

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
The Buddha

The devil you know

Rainforest, above Fryman, Los Angeles

Rainforest, above Fryman, Los Angeles

How we romance our afflictions

Am I this? This body that will ultimately fail and die, no matter what I do to contribute to its longevity? 

No, I cannot be just this. My body does miraculous things if I don't severely hamper its mysterious healing powers with my constant emotional cravings and override its superior innate intelligence in the mistaken idea that I "own" it. We, as westerners, insist on making bad choices for ourselves and those around us because we arrogantly feel it is our birthright. This assumption is based on what?

It is based on an idea. We think we are this story that we have constructed around the individual, around the consumer of corporate products, around our job, around our tattoos.

Our tattoos will fade and become unreadable as our skin loses elasticity. We will cease buying Mercedes-Benz automobiles when our reflexes fail and we can no longer safely navigate a freeway. We will even cease having preferences that our precious opinions matter as our fading mobility isolates us. This is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

We are not youth; it is a stage we pass through. We are not uniforms we wear, or clothes we buy. We put these on and take them off, and no indication we ever wore them remains.

What remains? Only this: the silent witness. The sky that shows no trace of yesterday's clouds. We are the seeing, the experiencing, We could not own it if we tried. It is on loan to us.

Meditation puts us in touch with this experience by clearing away that which we are not. If we enter the subtler realms again and again, we can renew the only thing we have ever had.

This beautiful moment.

Our false sense of ownership robs us of true compassion, of the choice to give to and receive love from others. Time is passing. We can surrender our preference to be selfish, and in doing so to experience the joy of service, of creativity, of love.

Overlooking Northern California

Overlooking Northern California

Tracking time

Scarlett, West Hills, California

Scarlett, West Hills, California

The healing power of perceptive clarity

"Wishful thinking" has a negative connotation in the modern parlance. It implies that we are crippled by a perceptive disability. All thinking is, in fact, wishful thinking. Thinking is informed by our perceptive filters and the judgements we accept as absolute. This acceptance is erroneous. My perception changes with my emotional state (which depends on sleep, food, or arbitrary mood swings) or with my level of resistance to the world and my place in it.

My thoughts themselves are unreliable as a barometer of the flow of nature. My ego, that easily distracted identity that masquerades as the true self, is not to be trusted with a task as weighty as discerning the truth.

Good luck silencing the ego. It gets louder the more we try to squelch it. Perhaps ego control is a fool's errand. We might do better to silently witness this ego and its machinations. Once the ego becomes aware that it is being observed, it's power over us dissolves, and we can see the workings of nature and our place therein without a fight for control.

If we become more accepting of nature's part in our makeup and our part in her overall flow, we can become more right-sized.

Consistent meditation expands our sense of identity beyond the ego and its flighty concerns. We become more grounded, more calm, more stable.

If we become opened to the beautiful gifts nature gives us on a daily basis, we can relax and enjoy the world for what it is. Heaven on Earth.

Skyview, dusk, West Hills, California

Skyview, dusk, West Hills, California