Blog Here Now"The only thing keeping you from the bliss of the One is the thought you are not." R.M.
It has been said 50,000 thoughts arise for most of us every day. That is 2,100 thoughts per hour. Who is the thought counter? “What do you do for a living?” “I am a thought counter.” “And there’s one.” It’s not the number of thoughts but the kind or type of thoughts that is worth considering. All thought either creates or is generated by its sidekick, emotion. It’s the relationship between thought and emotion which seems to fall under three categories: 1.)Stealth 2.) Lucid or 3.) Reflective.
Stealth thinking is mixed with unrecognized emotion. The emotion directs and imbalances the thought. Anger, jealousy, humiliation, fear, anxiety, grief, shame guilt are obvious examples of emotions that disturb thought. Although peace, trust, love, joy also cause disruptive stealth thinking. The key is it is not the emotion itself which defines stealth thinking, but the understanding that stealth thinking does not know itself. If a good friend comes up to you with a worried look and asks, “Are you okay?” You are probably in the midst of stealth thinking.
Lucid thinking is void of emotion. It works with simple comparison of yes/no, either/or much like a computer. What color is the sky? A non-partial, objective thought arises: “Blue.” We may have had to learn the colors, or if color blind, memorized the answer at some time in the past, but right now, the lucid thought is retrieved without effort or emotion. What is 7 times 5? Back in grade school when we were learning the multiplication tables, stealth thinking may arise as some fear due to uncertainty occurs. Now the answer flows from lucid thinking although I am using reflective thought to “see” it. Lucid thought can see only itself.
Reflective thought is in harmony with emotion. Reflective thought always sees itself, and also all stealth and lucid thinking. Byron Katie once asked me: “Why do you want to live?” Ramana Maharshi taught me the inquiry “Who am I?” Both require reflective thinking.
It is the question “Who am I?” which seems to transcend religion, spirituality or a lack thereof. Don’t we have enough stealth, lucid and reflective ego driven thoughts intentional or unintentional pouring through us minute by minute, day by day that a little balance, a pause for the cause if you will, is warranted? You may answer the question “Who am I?” with the ego. The ego is defined by every word placed after “I am” besides “That”. I am Michael. I am a father of three young men. I am divorced. I am living with a beautiful woman. Even, I am a man. All of these “I am-nesses” are stories. Everyone has a story, and there are no new stories.
What makes the “That” of “I am That” different is That is beyond any and all stories. That is the energy within everything and everyone. That is beyond the body. That watches the thoughts, the emotions and the stories with no involvement.
That cannot be attached to anything because That is one with everything. It’s like separating the rain drop from the ocean.
We have thousands of “non-That” thoughts. Which makes once in a while having the audacity to say with all your love and honor, “I am That” so sublime.
Most have never considered the concept while many know and have experienced the physical feeling and emotion of bliss, yet seldom acknowledge “That” is who you really are. It’s a conundrum because “That” is always on. “That” is always home. But you have to slow the Stealth and Lucid thinking by turning off the noise and seeking silence.
Everyone has their own special noise. It’s the cell phone, laptop, television, I-Pad, conversation, book, music, radio, and of course those incessant thoughts. Noise comes from the Greek and its derivative is “nausea”. We are sick within the noise and don’t even know it. It is not the noise per se that is making us sick, it is the quantity. It is way too much of a good thing. I like a good Snickers Bar but a hundred or a thousand of them? How many text messages, television shows, Youtube videos are too much? Even if you turn all the external stuff and machines off, there is the mind cranking along at hundreds of thoughts per hour.
So how do you slow the thought train down? One way is to turn off all the outside noise and create a reflective thought in the form of an inquiry. For whom has this thought arisen?* No matter the emotion or the story that created or surrounds the thought, the answer is always and all ways: “For me.” You take complete, unadulterated acceptance and possession of the thought. Then, you ask yourself: “Who am I?” The answer is “I am That.” If you are walking down the street you may see everyone and everything in your vision and recognize: “Yep. I am one with everyone I see.” If you look up into the sky, you may feel the entire expanse of the sky come into your heart or top of your head with the in-breath and the entire sky go out through the top of your head or down into your heart with the out-breath. If you are really vigilant you will experience the in-breath and the out-breath fade out into stillness. There is no time in this space where the in-breath ends and before the out-breath begins but you may hang in that silence for only an instant or you may do an Alice down the rabbit hole for awhile longer. Either way, in that stillness there is no thought. You have disengaged from the mind.
What is going to remind you to inquire? How about music? One great source of “noise” in our lives is music. How often do you start your car and a song comes blaring out of the speakers? Music can be a reminder of the One, the energy within, by simply shifting the normal or in most cases intended focus of “you” in the lyrics from a loved one to your own inner self.
This can be done for nearly every song. What if Eileen in the song “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runner is Being? Obviously, “the dress and dirty thoughts” are a stretch but “at this moment you mean everything” is right on target. The rhythm combined with the understanding “Come on Being” may blast you into the bliss of the One and remind you to listen to a breath or two.
What if the “I” of Neil Diamond’s “I am I said” is the energy of the one, the witness within? Just the thought of your own stillness may explain “and no one heard at all not even the chair.”
What if every time you heard the word “you” in Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” you are reminded of the One within?
“When the night has come, and the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No, I won’t be afraid, oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me”
There is a place of fearlessness inside. Find it in the space between the breaths.
A great time to do the Now Sound is when you don’t need your mind. Because we are attached to thinking, it is important to recognize there are a number of tasks completed every day without the mind.
Before you have time to think, “I have to get up!” you can do the Now Sound. From the time you were a child you use the same motions to wash yourself in the bath or shower. You don’t need the mind, yet the mind loves to get in the bathtub with you with thoughts like, “what am I going to wear?”, “is that jerk going to be in the meeting today?”, or, “I hope the traffic isn’t a mess.” This is a great time to allow the Now Sound to slow and quiet the mind.
Another great mindless time is when you are walking somewhere and you know where you are going. Your feet will automatically do their thing, all you have to do is concentrate on one breath at a time.
Waiting for someone or an event to happen often causes pain begging for relief. As the mind creates: “Where the hell is she?” “Maybe something happened to her?” “They said the pilot and crew were on the way 30 minutes ago. What did they do, stop for a hot dog?” recognize the past is over, whether or not you make your next connection is an illusion and all you have is this moment to honor one breath at a time.
If your mind is wandering in the middle of a hug or a kiss, you seriously need to turn on the “love magnet” located in the space between your breaths.
And finally, if the thought to slow the mind does not occur to you anytime during the day, you have an opportunity to score big time by listening to a few breaths just before you go to sleep. You “see” your mind at this time cooking thoughts: “Why didn’t I finish that project?” “The commute tomorrow is going to suck.” “What time is it? I’ll never get enough sleep.” This is Now Sound time. One beautiful breath at a time. And the bonus: If you do the Now Sound as you drift into sleep, the conscious breaths will continue all night long.
Sometimes when I can’t sleep I try counting sheep, but my ADHD is a nightmare. One sheep, two sheep, dog, pig, “old McDonald,” “Hey Macarena”
A friend of mine recently said: “I’m too ADHD for any meditation.” This reminds me of the Zen adage: “You should sit for meditation 20 minutes a day. Unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” If you are ADHD and still reading this, hang in there I am going to get to a point within two minutes. I googled ADHD and found a web site http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder.htm which lists about 60 tendencies experienced by ADHD children and adults. The following is a “dirty dozen”:
- “zoning out” without realizing it, even in the middle of a conversation
- poor listening skills; hard time remembering conversations and following directions
- trouble starting and finishing projects
- chronic lateness
- irritability or mood swings
- trouble staying motivated
- hypersensitivity to criticism
- short, often explosive, temper
- low self-esteem and sense of insecurity
- feelings of inner restlessness, agitation
- trouble sitting still; constant fidgeting
- craving for excitement
- talking excessively
- doing a million things at once
“The Now Sound” meditation technique is perfect for each and every one of these signs and symptoms. Meditation often has a perception of time. When I was taught the Now Sound by a meditation master, it was at least implied, if not instructed to sit for an hour and listen to your breath. ADHD or not, that’s a pretty good chunk of time. What’s beautiful about the Now Sound is it can (and “should”) be practiced one breath at a time. Depending of course on how long or deep your in-breath and out-breath is, we’re talking between 4 and 8 seconds. Even if you have the attention span of a gnat, you can (once in a while) stay focused on the the very beginning, the journey and end of your breath. What’s great about the Now Sound is you can do the meditation and enjoy other things at the same time. For example, the first symptom in the above list is “zoning out” in the middle of a conversation. Isn’t that simply the mind thinking about whether or not your zipper is up while your friend is informing you what his mechanic said is wrong with his car? With a little practice your attention to the breath will slow down the mind and allow you to give your complete attention in this moment to what is coming out of those lips moving in front of you. If you are ADD, ADHD or know someone who is, let’s connect.
In May of 1978, one of Siddha Yoga Dham’s security guards hustled two teen-aged boys down the center row and once at the feet of the guru Swami Muktananda handed him a baggie. The Hindu meditation master opened the baggie, immersed his face, took a deep breath, carefully closed it and held it at arms length in front of him and said to about 50 people in a courtyard in Ganeshpuri, India: “You don’t know how to smoke this.”
As I watched Baba bust the two teen-age boys by giving them extra “seva” or work in the ashram and hand the bag to Noni, his attendant, I was mildly shocked by the scene. As a “joker, a smoker and midnight toker”, I had spent years enjoying stinkweed. Through the months of hanging out with Baba and company, the less I smoked. The understanding I imbibed was smoking and drinking got in the way of your meditation and therefore bliss. I had been completely clean for over a year, but in the days that followed a nagging question arose in my mind. If Baba said you don’t know how to smoke pot, doesn’t he have to be talking from his own experience? I considered Baba at this moment as the essence of a God-man, a completely realized meditation master. In retrospect, as a “fallen” Catholic, I traded Jesus for Baba. Ergo, pot and Baba didn’t compute.
Thirty years later, sitting in my car, smoking some ganga called “girl scout cookie” on a New Hampshire bluff overlooking the ocean, I recalled this incident. Baba’s message was simple yet powerfully compelling: “See God in each other. God dwells within you as you.” The means to achieve “God” was chanting and meditation. As I sat with a good sized buzz, I was suddenly moved to turn off Leonard Skynard, open the windows, sit with my back straight and feel the very beginning, the journey and end of one breath at a time. I intensified my focus on the sense of touch throughout my body. As I “watched” the energy of my out breath go upward it felt like an implanted vibrator had been switched on inside my forehead. The intensity of the pleasure in and around my third eye, compelled me to watch the outbreath exit from that space.
After some time my focus shifted and I opened my eyes to watch the waves crash on the rocks twenty feet below. I began to laugh as I remembered what we did after a few tokes in the 70s. Crank the volume on Led Zeppelin, break open a bag of Famous Amos or Lay’s and let’s get it on. Body and mind frantically seeking pleasure of anything outside: be it sight, sound, food, drink or getting laid. No one was complaining but it begs the question: “Are you getting the most out of your stoner experience?”
I am not suggesting anyone go out and buy a bag of the magic smoke but 10.8% of Americans admit to an occasional toke or two. You know who you are. You also may have asked yourself in the middle of the haze: “Hey, is this all there is?” I mean how many times can you listen to Marley singing “Kaya” or your best friend solve the 18 greatest problems in the world before you say, “who is afraid of the silence?”
Getting in touch with your own Being, finding the space of stillness between the breaths or just reveling in the petals of a flower or shape of a cloud is nature bringing you in. Next time you spark one or eat that brownie try listening to a breath and be.