Popong 6 - Meditation
I wake earlier than usual nowadays but that is my current habit, which is pretty healthy compared to more than a year ago when I could hardly sleep due to the unwanted presence of people who extended their welcome in my place ( I will explain more about this in the future). I am glad that I was able to escape that funk. I still wake up thinking of my old habit of driving around although the prospect of that is getting less and less attractive. Thanks to the pandemic of course.
And there is the excitement of holding my conversation with you. I am glad that I look forward to talking with you each morning, when everything is quiet and calm and pure. Now there is the word: pure. In the past, my conversations with you were always impure. My attention was always scattered, especially when it involved mind-meditation while, for example, I was walking by the shore. Thought about people, especially those who attract my attention, ransack my brain, scatter its contents. That is one reason why I prefer my meditation on paper, writing makes me focused and more organized, especially in a place like this empty condo. I pull down the curtains and I hear not a sound except the occasional cars passing. Here, we talk. Well, I do most of the talking but I know you are somewhere here my Lord, near me, listening patiently. It makes a good writing practice as well.
So what did I do yesterday? I deferred my morning walk since the pollen count, now high, triggers my allergies and gives me a fogginess which is inconvenient especially when driving. It usually clears in the afternoons only to return towards evening, if I choose to walk outdoors again. I woke early yesterday but fell asleep again while starting my prayer in writing which, as far as studies are concerned, added to many hours of sleep for me. I will stick to 6-7 hours of sleep. No less no more.
Yesterday I wrote my meditation in the morning until I got called from work. I went to work. After work I hoped to resume my meditation but I noticed the mailbox ripped off the wall, which meant that the HOA was about to replace it. They gave notice about this job weeks ago. I did not particularly feel comfortable sitting idly in my condo while people are doing work in the building. I am compelled to go out and join them in the job since I am an officer of the HOA. I decided to leave and go to my other house (thank God for that house which is becoming more and more my place of escape and relaxation) and spent time chatting with Jim (the roommate/tenant) before I settled on my bed, planning to continue my meditation while lying; sitting, triggers my back discomfort nowadays. Sadly I got lured into watching funny videos on my laptop. Did not do a single task I planned to do in my head - neither meditating nor writing nor programming.
By late afternoon, I felt guilty about lying in bed with less than 4k steps I accumulated through my morning work. I usually complete 10k steps each day as monitored by my fitbit. I jumped off the bed and readied myself to complete all the steps in the park. The park was filled with people and dogs, which prevented me from contemplating on Nature which I often did with my early morning walks when the park is devoid of distractions. Once I reached the foot of the bridge I jogged to cross it, turned left on Shoreline Road and did additional jogging. I was able to complete at least 11k steps. So happy about that. Returning home, Jim said my spaghetti dinner which he ordered was ready. I ate more than usual; I was sure that sleep would not be far off afterwards.
There is nothing to talk about except that this morning I discovered two gates in my brain. There is the heavenly gate and the hellish gate. A person is always confronted each day as to which gate to enter. For me, my hellish gate is one that deprives me of the real joy in life. It is a world full of sensory satisfaction, limited to people whether real or imagined, to sexual fantasies that can be so overrated, tiring, boring and unhealthy. In this hellish world, I create a wasteland of nothing but lurid images and thoughts, sometimes aided by the Internet. This world is driven by hormones and if the hormones were depleted I replenish them with more imaginary situations. These situations are the ones that direct my physical body into roaming around, as if looking for a physical reality to match my fantasy. In doing so, I waste my precious time that I could have used for better tasks. Not only that. It exposes me to the dangers lurking outside all the time.
But then, the Lord is good enough to offer me the option of heavenly gate. Instead of sexual fantasies, I go into deep meditation. I get into the farthest core of my mind asking - what is happening inside and outside of myself? Self-examination is the best part in this introspection, it helps me understand the workings of my mind and recommends to me other good options in my way of living beside the usual bad habits I have developed through the years. For example, I can probably go to the park early but quickly to avoid the onslaught of pollen while at the same time enjoying the wonders of Nature. Or I could keep doing this meditation and later visit the Riverwalk Park to enjoy the splendor of native plants and trees (that may trigger a horrible allergy unfortunately). Or I could do a quick run outdoors later while working on the things I have failed to attend to due to my scatterbrain: writing, computer programming, reading etcetera. I wonâ€™t know for sure but the main thing is, my brain is utilizing its power of planning, creating, performing and executing instead of passively responding to its hormonal proclivities.
There are two worlds I can enter: the world outside and the world inside of me. Both of these are equally beautiful depending on how I see them. I can be in the most wonderful cafe in Paris but if my eyes were roaming for a potential lover or partner, no amount of physical beauty around me would help me enjoy them. That same thing holds true if I stay inside to meditate. If I am surrounded by objects whether animate or inanimate, that disrupt and distract, no beauty inside is worth seeing. So the rule is - when I go outside, whether itâ€™d be to travel or simply visit a nearby park, I must focus on the place to fully enjoy it. If I go there looking for some other possibility, then the beauty of the place is set aside; seriously - why would one spend time in a beautiful place only to cater to the raw, basic instincts of depravity?
When I go deep inside my thoughts, like in deep meditation, it would be best to stay indoors where quiet and silence prevail. To be watching TV or checking the internet or simply staring through the window to check on passersby and neighbors and other activities, Iâ€™d find the door to my mind hard to crack and once inside, hard to dig and maximize.
This is the purpose of winnowing the grain from the chaff, to have this clarity of knowing the task that is of value and one that is useless. To enjoy nature when in Nature and enjoy meditation when in deep thought, alone.
Yesterday while walking, I recalled the past events in my life that were thought provoking. How all good plans are easily subverted by oppositions. For instance - when I thought I had felt the calm waters surrounding my life, a bad news about my sisterâ€™s medical condition threw me into a tempest. When I felt that I succeeded in possessing rental properties for business, a tenant messes me by non-compliance with rules; and when I thought Jim is settled on his routine of living as tenant in my house, I find him cooped up in a week, not knowing if he lost his job or was simply lazy to work. Yesterday, when I had already formed in my mind a quiet afternoon to work on meditation, I found the HOA about to do the job on the side of my unit which denied me quiet time.
There are constant oppositions to whatever laid out plans we have in life. To the religious, they might account this as the work of the devil. That may be the case but I have learned to stay put, calm, fortified, reserved and rely heavily on my faith in the nature of things and calmly accept them until they pass. Every conflict, every opposition, every bad response to good has an ending. There is no such thing as continuous conflict unless a person is suffering from mental disease which, in that case, will require medical intervention.
A normal person however, should realize that everything ends in a resolution. The body will at least creep towards that resolution. Once I heard the bad news about my sisterâ€™s medical crisis, (and this is just my example), I suffered a day of internal upheaval, a condition that I think I documented in a previous blog but the morning after I felt extremely calm. I calmed myself for days and days until my sister called me to report all our fear of malignancy is wrong. When I got confronted by the distressing parking non-compliance of the tenants in my building, (this is another example), I moved out to my escape place. When I see Jim doing nothing, I tell myself it is not my business to ruin his day by asking if he is working or not; Jim is not missing his rent, so I have no business interfering with his choices in life.
I have the resources to respond to all the things that worry me. The Lord has given me a large capacity to fight back all the oppositions and be damned if these are the work of the devil to stop me on my track. I still have this capacity to write an imaginary conversation with the Lord. I still know the Lord protects me. I know that talking with him this way is the best thing to happen in my life.
Nature is a good teacher too. A few days back, I walked by the Intercoastal in the early morning; the wind was strong, it was almost hurricane-strong. I stared up and saw how it blew and displaced the palm fronds in many directions, swaying to its dictates, like humans whose heads and arms are in turbulent commotion, moving side to side , to and fro, their rhythm guided by a force beyond their control. This was prevalent among all the plants around the park.