Present Tense

Are you awake?

I am awake. I am open. I am exhilarated. Something is happening to me, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and philosophically.  It’s been a process and a journey that I began several years ago and the path has led me to a more open and empathetic place and all of a sudden, this week, something clicked.

I think this week’s epiphany was helped when I recently rekindled my meditation practice, after taking a year off.  I decided that for Lent (I’m not Christian, by the way) while many were giving things up, I would add something back into my life that I missed.  I had been meditating quite regularly for a year or so in hopes of finding a place inside, where I wouldn’t need alcohol to cope.  I was on an intense inner search to calm whatever demons were controlling my (bad) behavior.  At some point, I let the daily meditations lapse as other strategies took over.

I’ve felt as if I’m on the verge of an awakening of sorts for sometime now.  I could sense that something was stirring in me and I encouraged it. I have been reading and thinking outside of my comfort zone for quite some time now, realizing that I didn’t know what I thought I knew.  I thought that my political philosophy was settled; that I was right and firm in my beliefs.  I was wrong.  They are not settled; my beliefs have shifted, because my viewpoint has shifted and opened because I stopped filtering everything through my own calcified assumptions.

I stopped reading and consuming only things that reinforced my long-held opinions; I started to actually see what was in front of me, rather than to believe the spin and interpretations of those who want to influence and manipulate me.  Belief and facts are two entirely different perspectives; sort of like faith and truth.

The thing is, when you look at life and events and news and culture and health and nutrition and wellness through the prism of your own biased filter and the extremely powerful, ‘conventional wisdom’, you miss a lot.  You may be comfortable and settled and even arrogant, but there’s a pretty good chance that you’re not completely right.  You might even be ignorant of another point of view, thanks to your strident ‘rightness’ and that’s a shame.  That was me…for a long time.

I’ve written about my inability to understand those who appear to blindly follow religious dogma; everything is black and white and they know that their faith and beliefs are correct, no matter what.  The same thing happens with political and cultural dogma; we believe what reinforces our philosophy, regardless of the facts in front of us.   The Buddhists teach that you can only believe what you know, what you’ve seen, what is true.  Faith may seem to answer all questions, but it’s foggy because well…it’s faith, rather than true reality.

When you let go of the dogmas or philosophies that you TRUST to be truth and really look at the other side of an issue, you might find as I have, that you were worshiping a false god.  NOTHING is settled.  NOTHING is absolute truth.  NOTHING is the right way.  Life is too complex, humans are too complex, the relationship between humans/nature/the cosmos is too complex to think that your viewpoint is right and settled.  The minute that you realize that, you will have a moment of clarity that can shift your entire consciousness. Do I sound like a crazy-assed, new-age, flower-child, zen-wielding,  mind-blowing, wild-eyed hippie, love child?  Excellent….follow me……

Explore a new religion or spiritual practice, read about holistic health, root around in the other side’s political viewpoints, learn about what you’re eating/not eating and how you can be healthier.  Don’t settle for thinking you know what you know.  The world is a big place, full of lots of ideas and lots of people who WANT you to think/behave/consume a certain way.  Don’t go on blind faith.  Don’t just ‘trust’. Rage against the machine.  Take charge and embrace new ideas.  Go against conventional wisdom.  Demand truth and accountability.  There…so much for the laid-back hippie, eh?

March 4, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

To Rant or to Meditate, That is the Question……

I’ve always been a bit self-righteous.  Even as a kid, I had a strong sense of fair-play and a highly-tuned BS meter that I had no problem using, even on my teachers, which didn’t sit well with them and resulted in plenty of very poor citizenship scores on my report card.   That’s where the “self-righteous” part comes in; I’m pretty sure that I’m right, about most everything, nearly all of the time.

I find myself in a place of utter disenchantment with so much of our culture: crappy, soul-sucking reality TV shows, lying, selfish politicians, hypocritical religious leaders, manipulative media talking heads.  I’m sure you have a few more things to add to the list.  Here’s my dilemma: do I ignore it all, go inside myself to find peace and focus, or do I raise, hell; give voice to my feelings of being totally stepped on and kicked around by those in power, who say they want what’s best for us, but clearly do not.

I should say that I’ve never put much of my faith in the political class.  In fact, I have rather libertarian political views, in that I think the less they get involved in our day to day lives, the better.  So, I shouldn’t be disenchanted or disappointed in the reality that has smacked me in the face:  they don’t give a rat’s ass about us.  Oh, I voted; I held my nose and I’m hoping and praying that the folks I voted for will be able to ratchet back the giddy over-spending that has been the norm for the past few years.  A girl can dream, but I have low expectations that they’ll just leave us alone and stay out of our pocketbooks and our moral decisions.  Yeah, fat chance, right?

Here’s my struggle:  how to balance my innate compulsion to rail against what I see as injustice, wrongs, incompetence and just plain stupidity in our culture, with my need to find inner peace and to let go of trying to control what I cannot.  I see how a lot of you do it; you unplug, you disentangle, you drink wine and watch “The Idiotic and Dysfunctional Housewives of New York/New Jersey/Des Moines”.  Maybe that’s a decent plan because I don’t see you ranting on a blog on a beautiful Sunday morning.

There has to be a middle way to express myself, without being overcome and eaten alive by anger.  Jesus and Buddha both preached taking care of your own sins/shortcomings/imperfections and in doing so, you lead by example.  I get it, but it seems as if whoever shouts and screams and “demands” the loudest, commands attention and in turn, takes control of the national discussion.  So, human nature dictates that those of us who feel as if we’re not being heard,  yell louder, get nastier, attack the ‘other side’ as evil and destructive.  A vicious circle.

So, what to do?  I’ve given up the self-medicating that allowed me some oblivious time away from my anger and discomfort with modern life.  I have dabbled in meditation and spirituality and found both to be very calming and comforting, but then I make the fatal error of turning on the news or surfing the ‘net and I’m all fired up again. I guess I’m not any different from you.  We eat too much, we drink too much, we consume too much lousy media, we let it all wash over us and figure that it’s really easier and healthier to just stay out of the fray.

Here is what I’ll ask of you and it’s nothing less than I ask of myself:  carve out 20 minutes of your day to think about what you feel strongly about and then act.  It can be as simple as using your Facebook status to express a viewpoint on something of consequence.  I think that a lot of things are happening in our country because a lot of us are tuning out all of the nonsense because it’s just too painful and draining to care too much.  Take a stand, just this once.  You’ll feel better.

October 17, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


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