No preference

How do you hold to no preference when an outcome obviously seems desirable? Making money vs. not? Being happy vs. not?

Being with the unhappiness, and then letting go it, will change the state of being. States are transitory. Everything is transitory.

Accept, acknowledge, let go.

Being present should eventually cause transition to the new state of being. Emotions are internal manifestations of events, not the events themselves. Thoughts are internal. Feelings are internal.

Sitting alone in a room won’t make you upset. What you think and feel in that moment may cause you unhappiness. But nothing in and around you is making you unhappy. You can acknowledge the feeling, and then try and let out pass from you naturally.

Accept. Let it go.

If this is difficult, turn your attention wholly to your surroundings, or, in a meditative way, to your breath. Focus on the sensations.

That is being present, and that is one path to non-preference.

Uphill climb to health

I struggled with my health most of my life. As a child, it was asthma. After it seemingly disappeared in my teens, I struggled with my weight. That I managed in my early twenties to the point where I was fit, and healthier than I had ever been by 25.

When I was 27 I was in two car crashes, the first in September and the second in November. After the September crash I had a bit of PTSD. I couldn’t drive for more than a month – I would go into a panic attack.

The latter crash left me more emotionally unstable, but that’s a different topic altogether.

Over the next twelve months I struggled to regroup, but also found myself with physical limitations. At first it was a cramp in my foot. Then it extended into my leg. By October I could barely walk without the use of a cane.

Medical testing took a long time, but they finally diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis  the following January. Then the medication came. It was a cocktail of drugs meant to keep my body from destroying itself. I took those medications, switching prescriptions six times in four years, until I took myself off of them.

Now I’m working through the periodic discomfort of joint inflammation with yoga, supplements, meditation, and relaxation exercises. My doctor says it’s okay, as long as I keep monitoring my symptoms. So, I do. And hope that I won’t need to take any medication for it again.

I sometimes hold the belief that the RA-diagnosis is incorrect. Or, rather, that it’s caused by something related to the collisions, or maybe even how I treated my body over the years – I wasn’t always the most attentive caretaker for my health needs.

And I hold out hope that some day the discomfort will leave me completely, or at least be unnoticeable. Most days now I feel pretty good. Some days it’s still tender in the foot, ankle, and leg – but I no longer need assistance while walking. And I still don’t take medication.

Self-care

The body is a temple. Often it’s also a playground. Sometimes, let’s be honest, it’s a garbage can. 

We do a lot to our vessels. Overwork it. Deprive it of sleep. Feed it processed foods and give it beverages we wouldn’t give to any animal. 

And yet, the thing more often than not protects us, provides for us? Forgives us. 

In return, maybe we should be mindful of how we’re treating it.

Remember – garbage in, garbage out. 

Sitting. Still.

I’ve been practicing my meditation more these past two weeks. My time has been less pressing, at least until I start my next job.  I’ve carved out a little corner with a Buddha, a hamsa, and a zafu cushion.

Some of the guided meditations I’ve used come from the app Insight Timer. I’ve also purchased meditations from the CDM Spiritual Center. The latter was recommended to me from a spiritual healer I had been introduced to back in 2016.

In my meditation, and in my journaling, I’ve been exploring the fact that many of us suffer duality in our lives. The masks we wear for outer acceptance, and the true self that lies somewhere deeper.

The Zen poem Hsin Hsin Ming states:
Faith mind are not two
Nondual faith mind

I suppose I take it to mean that both mind and reality can easily be split in two (or more) parts, if we allow it to. But everything is one whole, and in accepting that oneness, we release that perception of future desires, or past regrets, and live entirely in the moment.

It’s the doing of that which is a bit difficult…

Semiotics

It has to start somewhere,
It has to start sometime.

-Rage Against the Machine

I read a book years ago called Persuasion. I tried re-reading it last year, but didn’t get all the way through it this time. In 2005 I did. (Why I remember the year is not at all important.) In it, Cialidini covers various methods of subtle (and not-so-subtle) persuasive techniques to illicit responses.

Semiotics is the study of sign and symbols, and their use or interpretation. In a way, it’s about cultural norms, how they develop, and how they can be used creatively to illicit responses. It’s a single word representing an enormous concept.

I wasn’t aware of semiotics when I read Persuasion, but since I’ve made the connection and it’s been of interest to me since. Persuasive techniques are greatly enhanced if you understand the semiotics of someone’s life – the signs and symbols that trigger positive emotion. It can be religious, familial, or pop culture. But we are inundated with symbols every day, and more and more we become programmed to respond in certain ways.

For our brains, that’s a positive thing. We were historically able to look at a situation and gauge its safety and potential for satisfactory outcome. But now that can be used against us. If we’re unaware of someone setting us up by creating a sense of comfort, then we may do exactly what they want. And sometimes, the wrong people mean harm.

It isn’t that we have to walk around with a running dialogue of the semiotics of every single input we come across. It’s only we must be mindful that sometimes things aren’t what they seem to be.

For a more in-depth look at semiotics, review this sign salad article

Why fasting is a spiritual practice

I started intermittent fasting a few weeks ago, on a trial basis for health and energy purposes. I noticed something, more of a byproduct than an intentional effect:

Meditation becomes easier in a fast.

We’re accosted by thoughts arising from Monkey Brain (or lizard brain, or whatever you’d like to call it). It tells is to eat, procreate, find shelter, drink fluids. It also sends the irrational fear signals. And the criticisms. It’s insidious, and it’s always going.

Now, with a lack of food it tends to focus more on hunger. I become used to thoughts of “is it time to eat yet?” I can learn to tune those out easier, and it’s mostly sending me those thoughts. I’m then able to filter past them and listen to more higher-level thoughts.

It’s been an interesting endeavor, and I’m enjoying the increased concentration from the intermittent fasting.

Maximizing energy

I’m a little over a month in to a new sales job (one of my many avenues for income). I’m on a strict schedule, mostly, and my mornings are starting much earlier than I’ve been used to over the past four years. So, I’m tracking my energy through an Excel spreadsheet, along with other metrics that I think will influence my well-being and state of mind.

Sleep hours, quality of food, quality of day, supplements taken, and creative hours are among the metrics that I’m listing. I may even start breaking down each meal and time I take it in to see where my energy peaks and troughs are. This may sound somewhat obsessive, but biohacking has been an interest of mine for several years now. It’ll be fun to play around with my performance habits.