Tag Archives: spirituality

Good Bye!

21 Jul

Good Bye

As Helen lay motionless in her hospital bed, Walter sat by her side with her slender lifeless hand in his. This scene has repeated itself for the better part of the last year. Helen had a slip in the shower and has been in a coma ever since. Walter holds out hope that she will wake up but deep down he knows the chances are slim. Walter hadn´t told Helen he loved her before the accident for such a long time that he cannot even recall the last time. This regret grinds in his heart.

Sitting in a silent hospital room with the woman he has shared the vast majority of his life has been somewhat of a medidative experience. Memories have come up that he hasn´t thought about since the event occurred. The actual occurances may be slightly curved by the glass of time but to him they happened exactly as he remembered them.

He remembers before shipping off to Europe, the nights they spent trying to be in each other’s company for each moment possible. They would go to the dankest bars as they were the only establishments open into the late hours. Neither drank a drop of alcohol. They just sat in a corner, hands stacked on top of one another regaling each other with stories of the few years they had been on the planet. Now that they have lived many more years and have many more stories to tell, he would give anything to be able to sit in the corner of a dark smokey bar and relive them with Helen.

Like clockwork the nurse comes in to change Helen´s bed clothes. Walter can´t help but feel the pity emanating from her. They have their usual small talk. Then Walter, very uncharacteristically, goes into the story of their wedding day. Although the nurse had a lot of work to do, she was enthralled by Walter´s recollection of this grand, beautiful day. Twenty minutes later, Walter realizes that he was holding her up, apologizes and sends her on her way. The nurse assured him he need not apologize and tried to hide the fact that tears were falling down her cheeks.

The next day, the same thing happened. The nurse came in for her usual checkups and tidying, small talk was exchanged and Walter regaled her with the story of when he returned from the war and how he and Helen celebrated being in each other´s company after such a long, arduous time apart. Once again, the nurse unsuccessfully tried to mask her tears and went ahead with her rounds.

This repeated itself for the good part of a month. The nurse would come in to do her job and it got to the point she would expect a story. She even kept extra tissues in her waist pockets. Walter started to look forward to the nurse´s visits.

One day, Walter checked his watch. It was around a half hour until the scheduled nurse visit. As he sat in his medidative state, reliving years gone by, Helen´s head turned towards him. Walter almost fell out of his chair. This was the first movement of Helen, by Helen since the accident. The slightest smile came to her face. Her cloudy eyes cleared for a moment and they pierced those of Walter. She stared mouthing something inaudibly. Walter put his ear to her mouth to hear what she was saying. There was no sound.

Walter knew this was his last chance. He looked into her clear, blue eyes and said “Helen, you are my everything. You gave me three great sons. You made a beautiful home for us. Without you, I don´t know how I could have had a happier life” he saw her eyes clouding again, he continued though the words were breaking up in his throat “Helen, I love you. I always loved you. I will always love you. I´m so sorry I didn´t tell you more often. I´m so…..” The machine Helen was hooked up to let out a piercing beep.

Walter could barely make her out through the tears; the nurse who he told his stories to ran in. “Walter, please go into the hall” she said, sternly but with care and love in her voice.

“But….” Walter resisted.

“Please” she answered. Walter acquiesced.

As he stood in the hall, his legs were so weak he could not stand. Not even after the biggest atrocities he saw in Europe did he cry with such force. Between sobs, he cried to the heavens how much he loved Helen in hopes that her spirit would hear him.

The nurse came into the hall and gave Walter the bad news. Helen was gone. All Walter could think was that he was soon to follow. He felt some relief in knowing that Helen left him knowing how much he loved her.

On Meditation

14 Jul

meditation

I am going to keep this piece very informal. I usually write short fiction stories but this subject has been so important to me as of late, I thought I would write about it. If it reaches one person and helps them, I will be elated. The subject is meditation. I have been doing it consistently now for over four months. In no way am I an expert. I can only express what someone who has done something for a miniscule period of time can. In this piece, I hope to cover the Why, How, What Happened.

Why:

I can´t explain why but I have always been drawn to meditation or at least the sexy idea of meditation. Something about being able to meld your mind with the fabric of the universe was very titillating to me. Of course, as you will read, this may never actually happen but I can tell you in my short time practicing, I feel I have gotten close. Over the past two decades every few months or so I would tell myself I would make meditation a staple in my life. I would either read a book, pre internet, or listen to guided meditations, post internet. I would “meditate” here or there and not have a plan. I really didn´t know for meditation to give results, consistency is the key.

The last push to make a plan and stick with it was given by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a guest on the Tim Ferris Podcast, a motivational show that gives life hacking tips and has effective people as guests. Arnold described a time in his life that I related too. A time where his thoughts were jumbled and his life felt hectic and out of control. He was having success in his ventures but he was having difficulty putting it all together and making sense of it all. He said that one thing and one thing only put him on track and kept him there. Transcendental Meditation. He used TM for exactly one year and stopped. It was enough to right the ship and sail into one of the most successful careers the world has ever seen. Although my practice is not TM per se, I read extensively about it and have adopted some of its principles.

How:

Let´s get to it. The how. What do I do? Just sit there? Summon spirits and demons from other realms. Yes and no. Well, maybe to the second question. I shall explain. What I do is sit down for a period of time, usually 10-15 minutes, the most 20 minutes but that is rare. I do this two times a day, once as soon as I wake and another close to bed time. When I started I used a mantra that I got from the internet. Mine was “Enga”. I have no idea what it means, I just like the way it sounds and vibrates. The mantra is simply an anchor. When you meditate, you do not think about anything. That is the point. To think about nothing. This is where the mantra enters. You focus on the mantra. I mentalized the mantra on out breaths. I breath in, and as I breath out I would think the mantra and feel it vibrate in my head. When your mind wanders and it will, your bring your attention back to the mantra.

I have since started simply focusing on my breath and have similar results. Start thinking about your childhood? Breathe. Bring your attention back to your breath. Start thinking about that bill that is late? Breathe. Bring your attention back to your breath. That´s it. You don´t pontificate the nature of reality, the reason for your existence or anything. It´s just focused attention for a few moments per day. How is this beneficial? Shouldn´t I come in contact with the spirit world or have a chat with God? I will try to scratch the surface of that later. I am afraid I cannot even put into words the benefits, but I will try.

I know a lot of people get hung up on sitting posture. There is no need to. Just make sure you are comfortable but not so comfortable that you go to sleep. Some people can meditate laying down. I cannot. I will go to sleep. I use a “meditation chair”. It looks like the letter “L” with a pad for the butt. I will admit, I made the investment almost to guarantee that I would stick with meditation for a period of time. I used my cheapness to my advantage. I knew if I spent that money, I would force myself to do it. This worked but by no means do you need fancy pillows or chairs. Before the chair arrived in the mail, I was sitting on a folded blanket and propped my back up on a wall. I had great results.

I have done some experimenting as well. I have used guided meditations with great results. I like the ones called “body scans”. The narrator will have you focus on the different parts of your body and relaxing them. I´ve had some sessions that left me extremely relaxed. There is an app on my phone that I use called Insight Timer. It is a free app. It works as a timer, as the name implies, but there is a wonderful array of guided meditations to follow. Another advantage is that it keeps stats. I love stats, you may or may not. If you don´t, I am pretty sure you can turn this feature off. Even if you cannot, just ignore them!

Another thing I experiment with is binaural beats. I won´t go into what these exactly are. That would be well beyond my pay grade. The Wiki page explains them perfectly. Pretty much, they produce a sound that affects the way you brain functions. Again, Google my friend. I feel I have had pretty good results from these as well. Different frequencies will produce different results such as, relaxation, contemplation, creativity, euphoria, just to name a few. Again, do your research but I recommend them.

What Happened:

So now that you see how easy it is, let´s talk a little about what happens. Of course, results will vary, ask your doctor…oh, wait. The scientific community is pretty much in unison that meditation is beneficial. A simple Google search will give more information on this than you could read in a few incarnations.

First thing I need to express because I saw other people had the same reaction. For the first few days, I actually felt more irritable than usual. I just felt like I was in a really bad mood. Again, this was only for the first few days. It passed and has never happened again.

During the first few weeks, I had some absolutely sublime revelations. They are personal and not Earth shattering so I feel no need to share them here. These have subsided though. They would happen the moment I brought my attention back after it had wandered off. I would label the thought “Past”, “Desire”, “Utility”, etc. and as I realized my mind was wandering and I brought it back either to the mantra or my breath, BAM, I was hit with a deep thought that would resonate with me for days.

Overall I feel more calm in control. I have become a better father to my three year old daughter. How, you ask? Because I don´t lose my temper. Here is one of those places I fear my words will fail me, but I will try to explain. I feel like I understand her more and therefore an action that would anger me in the past does not because I see it for what it is. Maybe she is just exploring her world. That´s why she knocked over the cup of juice, on purpose. Maybe she is just exploring limits, that´s why she continues to bang on the plate after I had asked three times to stop. Also, again, it is hard to explain, I just feel overall more patient. If I miss more than one day of meditation, this is very rare, I feel a little anxiety and a little out of control. This may or may not be some kind of placebo effect but as soon as I get a session in, all feels normal again.

Another thing that I have not really read anywhere else but I have experienced is increased memory. When I read books and watched movies or television series in the past, I would pretty much forget everything, pre meditation days. I have read East of Eden three times and every time felt like the first time. I watched all of Breaking Bad. I loved it. Ask me something about it. I cannot answer it. Now I seem to be able to recall plot points and other details better after viewing something. I think it may be a function of training the mind to be more present and training focus.

I am very early on in this journey. I may write a follow up to this piece a few months from now. I may be able to articulate myself even better or maybe not. I hope if you take anything away from reading this it is, meditation is simple, you can do it, there are many benefits and consistency is key. In fact, it is probably the most important factor. It´s not how you sit, what you mantra is, if you are burning fancy incense. The most important thing is that you are doing it and doing it consistently. At least once daily, preferably twice.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section. I will do my best to answer them. You can also e-mail me. There is a Contact page with my information. I feel that mediation is so important that it should be taught early and often. Kids should be taught meditation, now more than ever. With so many things fighting a war for attention, the loser is attention. It gets so spread thin it is rendered almost useless. Meditation is a way to own your attention and bring it back to health.

Tickling the Ivories

8 Dec

piano

Fran always wanted to learn how to play the piano. Like most people, he convinced himself that people who knew how to play an instrument were “musical”, or possessed some innate talent that he did not posses. Also, like most, he did not know that people who played an instrument, though sometimes possessing some innate musical abilities, simply practiced and practiced and practiced until they became proficient at their craft.

Fran always looked for the easy way in everything he did. He took pills to lose weight, lost thousands of dollars in get rich quick courses and only hooked up with women that came to him. These are just some examples of his mediocre way of doing things. Because there was no apparent easy way to learn the piano he just put off trying and admired those who could from afar.

One day Fran saw an advertisement in the back of his favorite gossip magazine that read: “Learn the secret of musical masters! No need for useless practice. Play your favorite songs in days! No prior skill required.” And there was a P.O. Box to request more information. He found it odd there was no e-mail address or phone number. He was also a little irritated by this as well. Physically sending a letter would be a lot more effort than he was use to expending for any cause. But this was special. This letter could make his dream come true.

A few months past and Fran had forgot that he had sent that life changing letter. He was reminded one day when he came home to a manila envelope addressed to him from the All Star Music Academy. He got very excited. He ripped it open and inside there was a business card with an address, a time and date that was a few days from today and a key, nothing more. The address was in a pretty bad part of town.

Although Fran did have a few reservations he decided that it would be worth any risk to realize his lifelong dream of playing the piano. It did not even cross his mind that such a risk could have been averted and his dream would have been realized by now by simply practicing a paltry twenty minutes a day over the past couple decades.

Fran arrived at the address. The house was not as bad as the ones to the side of it. He approached the door and there was a small hand written sign that read “Enter and take a seat at the piano in the living room”. Fran´s palms started to sweat out of nerves but “here goes nothing” he thought.

On the piano was another hand written note “Take the blue pill in the ashtray and stroke the C key 100 times” Panic struck Fran. Which one was the C key? He looked down. On a tiny bright pink post-it note taped to a key read “C”. Relief passed over him. He gathered enough saliva in his mouth to help the pill go down, inserted it into his mouth and swallowed.

He took a seat at the bench, extended his index finger and pressed down on the yellowed key marked “C”. “Pling” the piano sang. He repeated the process as the note instructed. When he got to 50 he started to feel giddy. The sound of the C note became hilarious. He looked to his finger. It looked to be 100 miles away. He took it off the key for a moment and put it close to his eye but instead of appearing closer, it appeared even further. His gaze turned to the piano, all of a sudden the keys were larger than cars! “What was happening?” he thought. Thoughts started to appear in his head that were clearly not his own but they were in his internal voice.

piano 3

This insanity went on for hours until he fell fast asleep. A few hours later he woke up feeling fine and with a renewed sense of confidence. For some reason he felt great to be alive. He had an energy that he had never felt before. There was another note on the piano. “Go forth and practice” it read.

piano 2

The next day, Fran bought a piano and a book of scales. He practiced the scales incessantly. Every waking moment that he could. When he was not tickling the ivories he did not feel full. In about one year he had mastered all the scales in the book. He played them so beautifully that they almost sounded like songs. He picked up a few more books, one about how to read music and some books of classical sheet music. In another year he was playing Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, and his favorite, the Brazilian composer Vila Lobos.

As he got better at the piano, he got better at all things he did. He became more organized. He stopped reading gossip magazines and instead opted for books. He exercised. He starting eating well. He was in great shape and feeling great.

On a lark he went to a local studio and recorded a few of his favorite songs. He would proudly give copies to his friends and family. One day he got a call. It was an advertising company. They offered him a job as a composer for commercials and to occasionally play in the office during big events. It was triple what he was currently earning in a job he loathed. He accepted the job and accepted his new way of life and succeeded at both.

Other Side of the Door

2 Nov

floating door

Open your mind, step out into reality

There is so much that your eyes cannot see

The world is yours

On the other side of the door

Bent landscapes, crooked faces are all that you see

Fog from the past does not let it be all it can be

You could have it all

But you choose to fall

Plastic Jesus, more voodoo

The primordial eye in your forehead can see right through you

Wipe the tears from your eyes

You are the one that you despise

But it does not have to be

Pain and misery

Breathe in life and you will see

That you´re free to be free

How much difference does it make?

2 Sep

How much difference does it make?

You can work out your body for years building muscles that protrude from other muscles only to have them atrophy to nothing in a few quick months of a little sloth.

You can spend years creating a fortune only to see it lost in moments due to a lapse in judgment or worse, something outside your realm of control.

You can spend years of your life and soul creating a family only to have them wiped out in the blink of an eye at the hand of a wild eyed killer or even an inebriated driver.

You build relationships, they go away. You have ideas, you  forget them. You cook food, it gets eaten.

Even the tallest grandest mountains erode at the hand of wind, water and time.

Nothing is permanent not even the stain on your favorite shirt.

You’re born, you die.

I ask again, how much difference does it make?