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Thursday, December 11, 2014

True Meditation


As illustration for this essay I am using a panel of our dining room sideboard that was particularly ugly and deserved what it got. It got several decades of kids, and their kids, growing up and pasting anything having to do with bicycles on it.

I considered this in two ways: it would decrease the resale value of the house and thereby keep me from getting snagged in real estate crashes; it gave kids something meditative to do while I meditated and Norma bounced off walls taking care of everybody. If you would like audio accompaniment as well, I suggest (because it renders me soundly meditative within 30 seconds) Olivier Messiaen's "Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps", in which Jesus is a broad phrase on the vionocello, a Word --Logos-- to express infinite slowness, which is how light experiences time.

In physics we learn the universe is composed of events. In philosophy we learn matter and mind are two ways of organizing events. Matter exists without biology; mind does not. We can safely infer the universe uses both organizational modes to communicate with itself. Because both combine in production of meaning, we assume the universe is getting to know itself in greater detail. It seems to be having a childhood. What further cosmic devices it develops by the time it begins dating are as yet unfathomable. Our job is to puzzle it out and help.

Eastern groups concentrate on the purposes of meditation, which are to live in the moment, pacify negative emotions, attain physical, mental and emotional health, live non-violently, purify consciousness, balance action, reaction and inaction. Modern medicine has ascertained this discipline improves the neuro-endocrine system, regulates emotions and hormones, reconciles subconscious mind and personality. Not bad.

Here's a generally Indian procedural list: Kayotsarg, relaxation and self awareness; Antaryatra, exploration of body; Svash Preksha, perception of long breathing; Chaitanya Kendra Preksha, perception of psychic centres; Bhavana, auto-suggestion; Asana; Pranayam, postures and breathing. The goal, briefly, is transformation of negative emotions into positive ones. Lot of terminology but simple enough.

Here's how it translates into Western Dialogue, at my house anyway:

She: Wake up! Wake up!

I: Mmmphh?

She: You're asleep in your chair.

I: I was meditating.

She: You were snoring.

I: Chanting sub-vocally.

She: People who sleep in chairs fall out and hurt themselves. You were about to fall out!

I: You know Norma, this is the reason monks don't usually have wives.

She: Nobody'd marry them because they're always asleep and falling over.

I: Meditating, prostrating.

She: So you'd rather be a monk than married to me?

I: Uh, I'm all enlightened now. Think I'll go outside.

And I do go outside, usually to think. In thought, one solves --but with each answer more questions present themselves. This makes life marvelous and frustrating, so many people wisely stop thinking before it gets out of hand. I, however, have learned to shuffle off to the pumphouse where, among other philosophical instruments, I keep a humidor. Nicotinic meditation tends to clarify facts at hand, even pull them out of thin air. It does not unify one with the universe or smarten one up, but it does calm one down during spousal bickers and successive attacks by descendants upon the paneling.

29 comments:

  1. There is so much here to crown the day. It is a delight to read of your sideboard panel. I think I would smile at each occasion of seeing it. Chanting sub-vocally is brilliant. I now have a name for it and will use it when next I am stirred from my sitting pose deep meditation. Next is to go in search of a pump house!

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    1. Ah, Tom, our old farmhouse was built in the 1940s when wells and tanks had little houses over them, which also served as laundry rooms or summer kitchens. Modern wells were drilled outside them and all electrics became weatherproof. So now the pumphouse is my tool room and fortress of solitude. We raised 4 children here, which was so exciting I sometimes had to go out to the pumphouse to calm down. In retrospect, had the pumphouse not existed, I would have had to invent it.

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  2. When things get to 'chatty' here I head to the computer room.....my chair has arms on it so I can't fall out.

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    1. Yes,chair arms are an example of great engineering,

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  3. My husband chants sub vocally, too. He's an excellent chanter. I'm glad to know his bad sinuses have helped him achieve brilliance in at least one area. He's so good at it sometimes that if I had a pump house I would go sleep there. Love your bicycles.

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    1. I have toyed with the idea of a men's sub-vocal chanting choir. Would your husband be interested?

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  4. That collage of bicycles is wonderful. I hope it's portable, because I'll bet your kids would love to have it some day.

    Sub-vocal chanting, huh? Brilliant. When my husband dares to accuse me of snoring, (The nerve of that man! ME? Such a delicate little flower as I...?) I say I was purring. I like the sub-vocal chanting comeback much more impressive. Thanks, dude!

    Oh, and in case I'm not around later this month, please allow me to wish you a very happy birthday. And many more. L'chaim!

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    1. Ok, I guess we could have a women's purring section in the men's sub-vocal choir. And, Susan, happiest of birthdays to you too, I guess it's our month!

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  5. My smaller portion and the cats all snore/sub-vocally chant. the resonance from their shared chanting can be impressive. And it is me that has to move.
    A very happy birthday to you later this month.

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    1. Thank you. With all the sub-vocal chanting you describe, would you be willing to act as conductor for our snoring choir?

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  6. Dear Geo.,
    the picture is cheerful and beautiful! A sort of Tour de France I prefer to the stress-loaden real thing (though I still have in my ear the radios bleaking all the time in France during these events).
    Meditation - yes, I do it a lot. Love it. And will not be disturbed. By anybody. And I don't fall out of a chair - ( but if I -seldom - meditate lying on a bed, I might come into a sort of trance where I hear myself sub-vocalize a bit - and then I know: I'm not asleep, but not awake either).
    Meditation is like a mental -- slow and loving - work-out, loading up one's batteries(mechanistical spoken - one can also say: clearing one's heart, soul and brain). .
    Reading of the pumphouse I have to ask (with a special interest I might enlighten sometimes later) if it is the same as a garden-shed?
    I'm not well-read in astrology - but being December-born myself, I am curious: are you a Capricorn too?

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    1. Dear Brigitta, as always I delight in your descriptions! Thank you. Yes, pumphouse is about 3 meters square, stucco with a tar paper roof --a shed. I should have guessed you were a December baby like me, but I am a Sagittarius. Happy birthday, Brigitta!

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    2. Happy birthday to you, Geo., I wish you all the best! And many, many blogposts and poems for us.
      My birthday is at the end of December - the funny thing is, that all (!) people who claim to be experts in astrology always(!) guess that I am Gemini. Then they say: "But your ascendent..." It is Capricorn too, whatever that means. But I have a friend who stubbornly refuses to accept the truth . she sends me birthday cards in June...

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    3. Whatever month your friend sends you birthday greetings, I understand and agree with her sentiment --the world makes more sense with you in it.

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  7. And another advantage of the pumphouse is that that spade with which we so often dig bottomless pits for our own downfall (we never really can win, can we?) is never in evidence. I think THEY make them invisible, then slip them, unnoticed, into our eager hands when we least expect them.

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    1. Ah, "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it..." (Ecclesiastes 10:8). I suspect pit diggers were really uncoordinated in Biblical times. I hope we've improved.

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  8. I often "meditate" in my easy chair. I feel as one with the chair. I can feel myself becoming part of the chair as I settle back. My head feels heavy for just a moment then sinks into the chair as well. There are nice arms on the chair that protect me from the sides. Occasionally a noise will disturb my trance but mostly I am oblivious. It is my second favorite place to "meditate".

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    1. Yes, chair arms are excellent, and chair backs add much security. Together, these inventions keep me from falling out of my chair in all directions at once.

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  9. This made me laugh, I love the bicycle sideboard and am massively grateful for chair arms. I think I have read this previously- to which I do not object, just checking whether I have developed prophetic powers?
    'Matter exists without biology: mind does not.' This is strangely pertinent to a new writing project I am currently investigating :-)

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    1. Most kind. Yes I did post this 3 or 4 years back but never thought it looked right, so I knocked out every 5 or 10th word, several sentences and shortened it generally. Then I found I could further miniaturize text by making the photo real big. It is hardly the same post so you do have prophetic powers.

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  10. Love the sideboard covered with bicycles, Geo. And I loved the translation of Eastern meditation into western dialogue ~ too funny. I envy your ability to meditate and chant sub-vocally. I am way too high strung. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the universe communicating with itself ~ maybe one too many wines at the restaurant tonight is the problem. But I guess the rise of consciousness and thinking is the universe discovering itself at the very least. Happy sub-vocal chanting!

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    1. Thank you Fundy Blue. I find wine quite conducive to meditation and am ready to endure its soporific effects in the great work of helping the universe think. It makes me proud that you are too.

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  11. Falling asleep in chairs is highly underrated.

    Love all the bicycles.

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    1. True, Squid. Both cycling and chair-sleeping demand skill and coordination that not everyone appreciates, but reward dedication.

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  12. somehow my post seems to have been eaten, but I got a chuckle out of your dialogue with your wife. I will have to try your lines about meditating and snoring being a form of chatting... As for your Nicotinic meditation, how do you handle the linger scent of incense on your jacket or on your breath, that which didn't float toward the heavens, once one returns inside. At least in my case, the aftermath of such meditations destroys all the peace and insight gained from having enjoying a good cigar.

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    1. Sage, a life of outdoor labor has taught me one key to happiness is to never smell myself.

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  13. Just read this again- as Mr was meditating only last night, although he smelt a lot more like rum than cigars- it's still jolly funny :-)

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    1. Ah, bit by bit, my dream of a snoring choir gains momentum!

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