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Distractions in Meditation: The Ground and the Dance

You sit down to meditate. Within a few minutes your stomach starts grumbling for some food. A moment later an iPhone alarm goes off in another room. There are a few moments of calm before the dogs take up barking at a rabbit in the back yard. A police siren screams down the street.

The natural, habitual reaction to all this is to label these things distractions to the peace and focus of your meditation. I believe the first step, however, toward really making meditation meaningful is just the simple observation that the dance of life is happening. Meditation is nothing more than resting in consciousness. It is identifying with with the formless, still base-point, or ground, upon which all of life springs forth. But what is consciousness without light/form/life, and vice versa?

There is the Ground and there is the Dance.
There is the Masculine and there is the Feminine.
There is the Source and there is the Expression.

Take it a step further and there is not even the polarity of opposites. Ultimately, even duality folds into one, singular non-dual reality.

These exterior sensations that come up while we are identifying with consciousness are not distractions; they are the very life that consciousness witnesses. They are that which dances while we remain still. So relax, and observe without judgement. It is only because life dances that we know any stillness at all.

By Trevor, The Edge of Spirit

 

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I (May) Have an Anxiety Disorder

For the majority of my adult life, the underlying feeling I have held in my body is: “Life is a pain in the ass.” 

It doesn’t always manifest outward and most people I know wouldn’t say that my countenance is reflective of that, but internally it’s a different story. 

There is Always Shit to Do...

The cat threw up on and in the shag carpet. I have to remember to pay my yearly insurance umbrella coverage. The kid needs dropped off at a rehearsal. I haven’t meditated in days. Hell, I haven’t worked out in days either. I gotta remember to call Sheila. If I don’t start checking off some projects, I’m never going to sell this fucking house.

It seems as though the weight of the world has always swung like a giant nutsack from the front of my neck… dragging my head downward and causing me to ejaculate toxicity on those who love and know me best. 

In a rare breakthrough this week it occurred to me, though, that it's not the “things to be done” that is the problem. Every responsible adult has shit to do. Instead I have begun to pinpoint it as an overwhelmed, panicky, buzzing anxiety that makes these very ordinary tasks into “problems.” 

See, after reflection and research I think it’s time to admit: I (may) have an anxiety disorder.

The question is, what does one do with that? Up until the point where I was able to “name my demon,” I did nothing. I would simply ride out the heaviness and let time soothe any severe flare-ups. But this did not improve anything over the long term and certainly offered no solutions in the midst of severe turmoil.

Now with a consistent eye on my physiology, I have started to make some changes and - beautifully - in just a few days I have felt a significant shift in my being. I share here today a couple of practical tips that have helped me in the hopes that you might implement and find some relief as well.

Anxiety Management Tips

1.) BREATHE: Nothing has been proven to reduce cortisol levels more directly and quickly than diaphragmatic breathing: Breathe in through your nose (from your belly) for 5 seconds, hold for 4, release for 7. Pause everything and do this several times at any time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Or cut your anxiety off at the pass and practice doing this when you’re feeling fine - say, at a stoplight or briefly before starting your work. For fuck’s sake, stop reading and do it right now. I’ll wait.

2.) MEDITATE: I pride myself on being a meditator but in all honesty, I’ve not been making time for it. Why? Because I don't value it enough. If your day or to-do list has priority levels, what would happen if you made some form of meditation as essential and necessary as your most pressing tasks?

3.) CARDIO: I’ve always done strength training but spend almost no time really grinding it out and getting my heart rate up. Regular, ass-kicking, sweaty cardio is beneficial for all, but is nearly crucial for those with anxiety issues. 

4.) NATURAL CALM: I am not one to advocate magic-bullet supplements, but holy shit, this stuff works. Go read the Amazon reviews; see what it’s done for so many others. I stand with them in saying that I don’t know any product that has affected me more radically than this. It’s certainly worth your consideration.

The long and short of all of this is: Are you overwhelmed? Stressed? Constantly anxious? This may come as a surprise if (like me) your identity is wrapped up in your internal turmoil, but… you don’t HAVE to live that way. You can still be a go-getter, a to-do-er, a productive member of society… and have an internal calm, an interior peace, a more relaxed orientation.

Unless you look forward to a bright future as a self-soothing substance addict or don’t care about spewing toxicity on your family and friends, consider taking daily, PROACTIVE steps in combating that sneaky modern demon that’s eating away at your health and happiness.

By Trevor, The Edge of Spirit

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The Devil's Interval (Accepting Your Life Drama)

In Western musical theory, there are typically 12 notes in the chromatic scale and therefore 14 different interval possibilities (an interval is the distance between pitches). When two of these intervals are played at the same time, some of them are pleasant sounding and bright, such as the major third and perfect fourth and fifth. Others are darker, with a minor, strange or "sad" sound, such as the second or the minor third. There's one interval, however, that's the darkest and most dissonant of them all.

According to the OnMusic Dictionary, a tritone is...

The interval of an augmented fourth. This interval was known as the "devil in music" in the Medieval era because it is the most dissonant sound in the scale.

If you're familiar with the piano, play a C and then play the F# directly above it at the same time. Or if you're a guitarist, play your second string (B string) open while playing the first fret on the first string (high E string) at the same time.

This is the tritone, the "devil's interval."

Why is it known the "devil's interval"? In the middle ages this interval was often avoided in composition because of its dissonant, clashing quality. The very sound of it suggests discord, opposition or even evil.

[With that said, this isn't a history or music theory lesson on the tritone. If you'd like more information, check out this Wikipedia article or just Google search "tritone."]

Interestingly enough, what we consider music today wouldn't exist without it. The dissonance created by this interval introduces drama into the tonality.  As a piece of music moves along (if you listen closely enough), notes clash and then resolve, bite at your ear and then become pleasant, make you cringe and then make you smile.  Without it, music would become boring very quickly.

SO WHAT?!

Many of us want to sanitize our lives: pushing that which is dissonant far away, living a sheltered and safe life, avoiding the drama and fearing the darkness both in ourselves and in the world.  During those times when we want life's fucked-up twists and turns to end or for everything to be safe and manageable, let us never forget that the end of drama is the introduction of boredom, of lifelessness. Yes, there are shitty days and terrorists, jock itch and natural disasters, but at least in this dimension - in this life - everything that we know and experience couldn't exist without them.

Let's transform the previous sentence from above:

As *LIFE* moves along, it clashes and then resolves, bites at you and then becomes pleasant, makes you cringe and then makes you smile. Without the drama, life would become boring very quickly.

When we learn to accept that the dance of harmony and dissonance, the clash of good and evil, is exactly the very thing that makes the world go 'round, we're free to participate in it with joy.  We can be happy to roll with the punches and navigate a complicated and tricky existence without frustration, but rather with the acceptance that it has to be this way.  This isn't to say we have to be tolerant of the various kinds of evil or injustice we experience - let us fight them with vigor when we need to - but all the while knowing that in some grand, meta-narrative, it is all - ALL - good.

By Trevor, The Edge of Spirit

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Don’t Fear the Future (MOVIE REFLECTIONS on “Lucy”)

Sometimes I fear for the future. Not necessarily because I am concerned about some pending apocalypse or am worried about the moral decay of our younger generations. I think it is mainly a fear of the vast, dark unknown. 

See, I have two young children. At the exponential growth rate of life-changing technologies, what will life be like for them in 20 years? 40 years? Suffice to say there is almost no way of knowing. This year virtual reality has finally gone mainstream with consumer models projected for the fourth quarter. Internet headlines warn of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. Google is working on the cure for aging. 

Will our humanity dry up as we become more technologically advanced, as we become more… god-like? Will we destroy ourselves before that happens with weapons of mass destruction, society-crushing EMPs or SkyNet android wars? Or is this the inevitable evolution cycle from Unity to fractured matter to crude biology to non-corporeal consciousness and back to Unity?

This weekend, my wife and I got around to watching “Lucy (2014),” wherein a young woman (through a series of unfortunate events) increases the usage of her brain from 10% to 100%.  All of the science fiction and action sequences aside, this is a profoundly deep film that deals with the nature of human potential, time, evolution and consciousness. And though it is a fictional account, it actually helped alleviate some of my anxieties on these matters.

Two things, in particular, stood out. (POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD)

First, I noticed that the more Lucy came into her fullness, the more her “humanity” - as we know it - seemed to dissipate. Human life and survival wasn’t as desperately CLUNG TO as it was previously. Interestingly, that manifested as a lack of empathy toward other humans, an indifference to pain and a nonchalance about death. 

Pierre Del Rio: [During the high-speed car ride through Paris with Lucy driving] I'd rather be late than dead.

Lucy: We never really die.

Perhaps with a fully realized “cosmic consciousness” we understand that our individualized ego and body aren’t as real as we imagined, that the whole of the universe is connected and that there’s no point in clinging to our earthly life. Sound familiar? Ya, like every damn spiritual teacher since the dawn of civilization.

Secondly, there was this:

Lucy: Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge.

Here we directly tackle my fears for the future. The more we uncover, the further we evolve, the more conscious we become, the less we actually have to be afraid of. Evolution is scary because it’s unfamiliar but that doesn’t mean that - for instance - I should be concerned about what my children’s lives will be like when they’re 50 years old.

Will it be unlike anything I can possibly imagine? You bet. Should I be concerned? Maybe… but at least for the moment, I’m going to trust that knowledge isn’t the harbinger of chaos and destruction - but rather unity, power, connectedness, and a more complete understanding of who we are and what we’re doing here.

With this in mind, I’m going to begin to be a little more optimistic about where we're headed and how we're evolving. There will certainly be hiccups along the way and this is not to say that all technological progress is positive or useful. But this is the direction we're headed no matter HOW we think of it - and it has the potential to not only be arbitrarily positive, but an intelligent consciousness' intentional culmination of billions of years of evolution.

By Trevor, The Edge of Spirit

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An Experiment: Let Go

Perhaps you're someone who likes to "control your own destiny" and "create your own reality." Cool. Me too. But what about trying something different today?


Today, fully surrender. See if you can stop attempting to manipulate and manage the world. Feel yourself as one small piece of a large universe, which too, is yourself. After all, this universe carries on with or without your influence. 

From this place, nothing that happens during your day is wrong. There will still be highs and lows, energy and exhaustion, pleasure and pain, but they are not a problem. They are just the dance of life that is being experienced in unfettered, unattached, joyful awareness. 

All urgencies, emergencies and distractions that come up will not be seen as a derailment of your intentions; there is only what arises. Some of it needs pushed through to "accomplish things." But frustration is not necessary or useful; it is simply a sign that you are chained to the human drama and mad that you're not getting your (ego's) way. If everyone dies, if the bank is drained, if they take your house, if all security is removed — as long as there is conscious awareness, there is still life and there is no problem. That is and will always be the case.

Let go. Be free. Say "fuck it." See what happens.  

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