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”

The Inertial Mind

One insight I’ve had lately regarding meditation sits (and other habits in general) is how often I’m not so motivated to sit, but once I do I find myself quickly getting into the mood, and then I do not want to stop. This then repeats for the next activity I am resistant to begin, and the cycle repeats. I then began to notice this in pretty much all aspects of my life: exercise, art, writing. The activity didn’t seem to matter, it was the shift to a new one that was the crux of the resistance.

It made me realize that the mind is an inertia machine — it prefers to keep doing whatever it is it is currently doing. Helpful or detrimental, it doesn’t seem to care or recognize the difference. The mind just prefers to keep doing what it is doing right now. The insight here is to just commit to getting started, and putting 5 minutes/reps/sentences/notes/brushstrokes/etc into action.

Perfectionist/procrastination advice of “just get started” comes to mind here, as does the idea of tiny habits and mini habits.

You don’t need much time to shift the mind over to the next thing it will get attached to, but the shift is where the struggle happens. It’s as if we have this impetuous child within, as if we do not evolve our personas but rather accumulate upon an ancient core that cannot be matured, evolved, ignored or reasoned with. We just need to understand how it functions, and find ways to work with it. The real key here is that it will never “go away”. We will never “get past” these struggles. Once we learn to accept and work constructively with these ground rules in mind, the easier it is to get past them.

It’s easy to think to yourself “I am lazy” and explain these behaviors away. But I don’t think there is any “I am” in these behaviors. I think these are artifacts of the structure of mind/brain/body. Once we realize these are impersonal, external to the self, and permanent, functional “hard wired” aspects of Mind, we can stop identifying with them and start looking for solutions to work around them. Work with them. Use them, instead of fighting them.

These struggles to sit in meditation, to exercise, to create — they are not signs of personal flaws, weaknesses or limitations. They are signs that the system is working normally. A bicycle only maintains balance when in motion; this is not a flaw, but an unavoidable and intrinsic aspect of the design. There is only one solution: start pedaling.

Techniques for Consciousness Change – Robert Anton Wilson

Excellent interview with one of my favorite subversive philosophers, Robert Anton Wilson, on the topic of self-directed consciousness change, or “meta-programming the bio-computer” as Wilson often refers to these techniques.

As usual with Wilson, the topics range freely across many disciplines from psychedelic drugs to yoga to quantum physics to Sufi mystics and CIA brainwashing conspiracies. This is an excerpt from the full audio program, “Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything“.

Continue reading “Techniques for Consciousness Change – Robert Anton Wilson”

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”