Meditation Is Like That Feeling You Get When Traveling Solo, All The Time

You know that excellent feeling you get when you’re traveling solo, and you’e on the first full day of the trip after the journey to get to your first destination?

You know how you realize, “Wait a minute, nobody here knows me or my past! They have no expectations of me. I can be whoever I want, and they will never know!”

It’s a massively liberating feeling. I think it may be a big factor in the “rush” people get from traveling.

I think these experiences help to release us from the illusion of believing we are somehow “required” to live up to our own subconscious expectations/requirements of having to be who other people expect us to be. As if there is a certain identity people expect from us, and we ourselves feel as if we are obligated to express and “be” that identity we imagine other expect from us.

My experience with meditation gives me that “liberation from identification” feeling all the time, even in familiar places, among familiar people.

I constantly feel like I am “traveling solo”, among people who do not expect any particular personality from me.

I no longer feel bound and obligated to be who I was yesterday, 3 years ago, or this morning.

I say things that people who “know” me might be surprised (or shocked) to hear me say. “That’s not ‘you'”, they tell me.

The ruts of identification run very deep. But I think the external social pressure of obligation to uphold and maintain those identifications is an even greater influence over one’s experience of “who I am”.

When the meditation literature speaks of “liberation”, this is currently what I think they refer to. Liberation from identification. Liberation from the obligation of identification, to be more precise.

Or perhaps even more precisely, liberation from the illusion of the obligation of identification.

Liberation is the perfect word for this experience. Because once you’ve been liberated, you can see the prison walls that were invisible up until now, and you were indeed trapped. It’s a liberation that can only be recognized as such once the liberation has taken place, because up until that point, you didn’t even know you were imprisoned.

Unfortunately, people who have not yet liberated themselves base a lot of their own identifications on the expectations of the identifications of those around them. Who they think they are relies upon you being who they think you are. And you are supposed to reciprocate and be who you’ve been, and who they think you are.

So when you’re “traveling solo” among familiar people and places, it won’t have the same flavor as when you’re actually traveling solo among strangers. You may have no ties to previous identities, but they will have expectations placed upon you.

But if you’ve been a solo traveler, and you know the feeling I am talking about, it’s a perfect analogy for the state of mind and experience of the world you’ll be cultivating if you maintain a daily practice of conscious focus and concentration mastery — meditation.

Meditation Analogy: The River Of Thoughts

I was talking to some people I’d just met while on a hike, and the conversation made it’s way to meditation. That tends to happen if you’re talking with me.

I was trying to find a simple analogy for someone to understand the experience of what one is trying to achieve from meditation, and to also contrast all the misinformation out there she had received just like I had (like trying to “clear your mind” and such).

We happened to be standing near a currently-dry river bed.

It occurred to me that the initial aim of meditation practice is similar to that of someone being swept away by a raging river. Your aim is not to stop the river, but to get out of the water!

The mind and its “river of thoughts” is constantly dragging you “downstream” with it, thrashing you about. Meditation practice will slowly cultivate the concentration and focus skills to allow you to realize you’re being swept along, then to get your bearings and find a branch on shore to grab on to, and eventually you’ll be able to pull yourself out of the river.

There is actually no need to stop the river.

Eventually, you might even want to take a boat back out on to the river. It’s way more enjoyable being on the river when you’re not being sloshed about, barely able to gasp for breaths.

Your goal with meditation should be to get out of the river, dry yourself off, and look back at the waterway from the perspective from on of the river banks.

Don’t try to stop the river!

3 Signs That Your Meditation Sits Are Going Well

  1. Nothing much seems to be happening
  2. Your mind wanders constantly, and your thoughts keep taking your attention away from the object of focus (breath, etc.)
  3. Nothing “mystical” is happening

If any of the above — or better yet all three of these indicators has happened to you during your ongoing meditation sits, then it’s a sure sign that your meditation practice is on track and everything is going perfectly. Continue reading “3 Signs That Your Meditation Sits Are Going Well”

Foodiot

I was a former “Foodiot” — an idiot when it came to food. I remember back then how daunting it all seemed to try and get started eating more healthily. At least for an overthinker like me. This post will be a primer of sorts on how to get started eating in a more healthy manner. I’ll discuss how to shop for vegetables, how to store them, and what to look out for.

Continue reading “Foodiot”

Yögå: Is Denmark the Origin of Yoga Asanas?

Yoga is commonly associated erroneously with only the poses or postures, called “asanas” in Sanskrit. In actuality, yoga is more of a system of which the asanas are but one part. And a lesser one at that. Meditation and pranayama are the main focus of the physical activity aspects of traditional “meditation yoga” (as opposed to modern “exercise yoga”).

My endless curiosity has been intrigued since starting up meditation as to the origins of the techniques and practices. This includes the asanas of yoga, which I’ve recently started experimenting with. Some brief research revealed that I was not alone in thinking these questions, and author and scholar Mark Singleton did all of the hard work for me. He discovered what seems to be an origin of yoga asanas in the country of Denmark, where he discovered an early 20th-century Danish system of dynamic exercise called Primitive Gymnastics that were uncannily similar and not influenced by yoga or by yogis of India. And it seems as if the asanas were covertly introduced into yoga by anarchists!

Continue reading “Yögå: Is Denmark the Origin of Yoga Asanas?”

Upgrading Your Mental Operating System

This lecture that Gary Weber gave for a Buddhist Geeks conference was extremely inspiring and informational to me. I like his non-nonsense, direct experience, scientific approach to the process of meditation. And the fact that it worked for him, and he’s very enthusiastic about the results.

I’m not one for the trappings and baggage that usually come along with some of the more esoteric topics I’m interested in. Perhaps that baggage is little more than my own preconception about these subjects. That said, I always welcome the more down-to-Earth kinds of people who talk about these kinds of things, especially when they have some science to back things up.

Continue reading “Upgrading Your Mental Operating System”

Orange Safety Glasses: Insomnia Cure?

I was as skeptical as you are right now when I first read the claims that wearing orange safety glasses at night might help my insomnia. To my surprise, I’ve found them to be quite effective.

The basic idea is this: you get tired when your body (the pineal gland, specifically) releases melatonin into your bloodstream. This is inhibited as long as the eyes keep sending the signal that there is blue light reaching the retina. Why blue light? It’s the color of the sky, during the day. Turns out candle light and firelight contain very little in the way of light in the blue range of the spectrum. Seems we’ve evolved to adjust for this longstanding pattern of human cycles.

Continue reading “Orange Safety Glasses: Insomnia Cure?”