Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Control

A different post today.....

Sometimes, once in a great while, something happens that is so close and personal to you (I performed for these children last year), and so awakening in its brutality that you have no choice but to not let it go until something is done. Ya gotta pick the battles that im-passion you.  If it doesn't touch your heart then you won't have the passion to do anything about it

The Sandy Hook massacre is that for me.

Actually, I have had it with extremism in all its forms. The sickness in our society is that we now see what divides us as more powerful than what we have in common, when the opposite is true. We all love, we all want to laugh and enjoy our lives. We all want to protect our children and make a world where they can live in peace and happiness. We all cry; we all bleed. We all share our humanity and this is so much more powerful than our differences of opinion as to the nature of, or existence of God, who should be president or be able to marry, etc. These things just are not as important as our common humanity.

Extremism, in all its forms - Left, Right, Christian, Muslim, Jew or Arab - is a disease.

The gun issue raised by this tragedy in Newtown, CT  just pushes me over the top. My specific focus for this will be the extreme views of the Gun lobby and the NRA. Not the 2nd amendment, which I support, but extremism. How we treat mental illness in our society is also on the list.

I have no idea what my next step will be, but step I will. I guess my first step would be to ask for your support and to contact your politicians to demand sane and balanced gun regulation, a return to balance in our general discourse, a recognition of the disease of extremism no matter where it shows up.

Thank you for whatever support you can agree to, even if it is just to pass this on to someone who might give me some ideas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pursue The Ordinary

I don't know if is the fact that I am in spiritual India, or the jet-lag, but I woke at 2am this morning feeling the desire to do T'ai chi. I spent the next extraordinary three hours with T'ai Chi, Standing meditation and just general "Being" This is what came to me as an experience:

If you want to find the extraordinary - pursue the ordinary. The extraordinary exists only in the ordinary. If you pursue the extraordinary you will never find it because you are making a distinction between the experience you are having now and something that you think does not exist at this moment that you are calling, "The extraordinary."

The ordinary IS extraordinary.

Think about it: The extraordinary is experienced as something rare, one of a kind, special. OK then - that is the precise definition of the ordinary "Now." The ordinary, now, moment is rare, is one-of-a-kind, is special. It is these things because it is the ONLY moment that EVER exists - ALWAYS and forever - "World without end."

If you can pursue the ordinary so that you actually get to experience it unfiltered, raw, as-it-is, you will have a guaranteed extraordinary experience. And if you can let go of that so that you stay open to experiencing the very next ordinary moment, you will have another extraordinary experience. If you can let go of THAT one too so that you can fully experience the next ordinary moment as it appears, and the next, and the next, and the next, and........ Then you will have a never ending experience of the extraordinary "Now." You will have eternal life because the only thing eternal is the Now.

That is why I say, "The most transcendent enlightenment experience you have ever had cannot compare to the experience you are having right now." Right now is REAL.

It is ordinary because it never ends.
It is extraordinary because it is the only one there IS.

WOW! THIS is all there is. Nothing else exists. Existence IS "What is." "Right Now" IS what IS. Period. The fun, the play, the work, the game.... the ONLY thing really worth pursuing is the unfiltered experience of THIS moment.

Think of it: Everything else will end. Your children will leave you. Your wife or husband will leave you or you will leave them because eventually you will both die. You car will fall into disrepair. Your favorite shoes will fall apart. Your body will stop being able to do what it is used to. EVERYTHING is impermanent and ends...... EXCEPT right now.

What else is truly worth pursuing but that which is always new and never ends. Every sage who ever lived saw that. Jesus said (supposedly), "Behold, I maketh all things new." I don't think he was talking about himself. I think he was one with the Now moment (God) and having an unfiltered experience of the eternal Now, which indeed does make all things new.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Consistent Physically-Spiritual Practice vs. Anti-depressant Medication

Question: Are there any people who have a consistent (daily), physically spiritual practice (where breath work is involved, like yoga, and t'ai chi)  who also are on anti-depressant medication or long-time (years) therapy?

I am hoping to gather some data.  This is a question that is so obvious to me that I wonder why I have never thought to ask it before. 

I am sure there are plenty of people out there who have absolutely no spiritual practice and are also not on any medication -  bless those hearty souls. My interest is with those who are on such medication and have no physically spiritual practice - that it not only might be able to help them, but that it possibly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, would be able to help them.

My wonder is whether most depression (even the chemical/biological kind) can be treated by a practice which is a combination of these three things: 1) Daily, 2) Physical, 3) Spiritual.

Most of the people I know who have a daily physically spiritual practice are not on medication or seeing a therapist on a regular basis. But that is a small sample and I would love to hear other folk's experience around this.

There is something about arts that combine breath, meditation, and  movement that balance the mind/body. Even going so far as to regulate chemical balances within the body.

I also believe that yoga and t'ai chi connect you powerfully, feelingly, physically, experientially with a Reality that is....... well...... 'realer' than the so-called 'reality' of everyday life. A Reality beyond that which gives rise to depression, anxiety, and fear. Not that people who practice yoga and t'ai chi never get depressed (I get depressed, I get fearful, I get anxious), but that we have a way out; an anchor point, a touchstone, a grounding ---- an expansiveness that we can connect to that dispels the contractive states of mind of depression and fear.  Oftentimes if it is some simple, everyday gnarliness I am feeling I can dispel it just by remembering to breathe!

This is a non scientific poll. I am interested in hearing from health care professionals regarding their own experience in this matter as well as from people who are directly affected. So please feel free to get in touch with me. I promise confidentiality. I really want to know what people's experience is around this question. Feel free to forward this blog to people you know who might be able to add to my knowledge. I will report out here, afterwards, with what I find.

Thanks! Happy Playing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why is T'ai Chi such an amazing practice?

What is it about T’ai Chi that makes it such an amazing exercise, meditation, life practice? You can do it anywhere and at any time - Almost any experience can be T’ai Chi practice. I don’t know of any other exercise/practice where this works quite so seamlessly.

I am sitting here at Pete’s Coffee and Tea in Harvard Square, watching the Cambridge world go by: joggers, walkers, strollers, sitters, roller bladers, drivers, standers-by. All of these people could be doing exactly what they are doing and enhance the doing of it by adding the quality of T’ai Chi. T’ai Chi is a way of experiencing the world with more silky smoothness (Ah, that phrase was probably influenced by the soy Latte I am sipping); of moving / Being with more ease, flow, and grace; of taking great delight in the very process of Being alive - moment by moment.

It is the same feeling I used to get sporadically and unexpectedly of, ‘A beautiful day.’ Only now I can design it, I can ‘make’ it happen, actually - allow it to happen -  just by tuning into the very practical, physical ability to allow life, to consciously experience that flow of electrons, particles, current, energy we call the present moment, or the Now.

There is nothing mystical or spiritual about it. If you suddenly become aware that you are clenching your fists or your jaw, or holding your breath, it is a simple matter of opening that fist, relaxing the jaw, or taking a breath. For a T’ai Chi player there is little difference; it just works on a deeper level. We become aware that we are ‘clenching’ our Now and simply let go, melt, dissolve that feeling of clenching.

Clenching, tightening, holding, tensing.... it's the same process whether it is as obvious as a tight fist or as subtle as a tight mind. The process of relaxing them is the same too. It just takes the three things that studies have shown are necessary for learning a new skill or unlearning an old habit: Desire, Feedback, and Practice.

 There is really nothing special about Being. It’s as common as dirt, we all do it all the time. What could be more common than Being? What is uncommon is the conscious experience and enjoyment of Being. As far as I am concerned that is the purpose of life: Enjoying Being. That’s it and it doesn’t matter a whit what you do or who you are. Profession, wealth, social status, gender, political affiliation, are all window dressing, smoke and mirrors concealing the common thread of Being that goes on behind and throughout it all. It is all just Being.  Playing in the fields of Being - “That’s what its all about” (to quote the Hokey Pokey).

Happy Playing.

Come join me to play with Peter Ralston at a weekend workshop in September in Northampton.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Zero Point Field or “If you don’t think the dead can come back to life, you have never been here at quitting time.”

I always found that saying hilarious - I would usually see it in an office somewhere. Hilarious and true. What causes such a sudden burst of energy at various times in our lives? What makes my dog, Eli, go from an elderly 16 year old who can barely climb the stairs at night to a frisky puppy when I say the word, “Walk?”

First an explanation, as simple as possible, as to what is meant by the Zero Point Field. This is a term used by physicists to denote the field of energy that still remains at a temperature of absolute zero, when no energy is supposed to be able to move.

At absolute Zero - the lowest possible energy state, where all matter has been stopped and nothing is left which can move - there is still some energy vibrating, or ‘jiggling’ as some quantum physicists say.

Zero Point energy is the energy that is present in the emptiest state of space - where all the energy that can be extracted from space has been extracted - no more removal is possible and yet, some motion - some energy remains - always. The ‘space’ in which this energy resides is called the “Zero Point Field.”  It is also ever-present, underlying all matter and space. Until Quantum physics came along most physicists dismissed this energy from their calculations. The reasoning? Well, since it is always there it cancels itself out in calculations, it can't have an effect.

Duh? It's kind of like doctors dismissing the Placebo Effect.

Quantum physicists believe that the ZPF is a vast unharnessed reservoir of energy that could potentially provide an endless, free, non-polluting source of power to run everything from light bulbs to spaceships. The problem is how to plug into this source.

I am reading The Field by Lynne McTaggert, which is all about research into the ZPF. It is making my head dance with possibility and discovery as I contemplate the relationship between ZP energy and T’ai Chi.

I don't know how my car can run on it, but I know how to access this field - it is through the feeling states of allowing, surrender, love, appreciation, joy, happiness, gratitude, etc. These expanding feeling states establish a connection to the ZPF and there is always a burst of energy. What cuts us of from this field are the contracting emotional feeling states (fear, worry, anxiety, stress, unworthiness, guilt, judgment, etc). Expansion connects - contraction separates - on every level of being.

Anything that causes you to contract separates you from this ever present source of energy. Anything that expands you - plugs you in. T’ai Chi, love, yoga, laughter, friendship, winning, success, contentment, peace, fulfillment, perception of wealth, health, well-being, appreciation, gratitude, melting, friskiness, playfulness, unselfconsciousness, going beyond embarrassment, expanding our comfort zones, ALL of these things tap into the ZPF and charge our batteries.

So, Elizabeth and I are going for a walk with Eli and he is bounding around like a puppy. As I said before, he is NOT a puppy, he is the equivalent of over 100 years old and shows it quite often in his difficulty laying down, climbing stairs or getting into the car. But start out on a walk and all of a sudden the years drop away. Then it hits me. He has tapped into the ZPF.

We have all had moments where we were dog tired (sorry) and something happened to give us a burst of energy (being in love does it pretty well) - being at a party, it’s late, very late, I am ready to go home, yawning, half asleep, then I get into an interesting conversation or hear a great piece of music - all of a sudden I am wide awake and before I know it two hours have gone by.

This is why T’ai Chi feels like the fountain of youth - It is the practical physical practice of Allowing; of feeling allowing - allowing what is to be. It is the physical practice of non-judgment, ease, grace, flow, beauty. No stress, no strain, no forcing - effortless movement. Amazing yes? With T’ai Chi you do not think your way to non-judgment, ease, grace, flow, allowing - you feel your way to them - it is a physical practice.

 Anytime you want you can access to this Zero Point Field of power that can rejuvenate, heal, enliven, strengthen, and invigorate you. This is instantaneous too. You don’t have to wait to feel the effects. Relax, have fun, and play the form. The style of T’ai chi doesn’t matter. The outside form is not important, it is what is going on inside that makes the difference. Melt, yield, let go, sink, relax, dissolve, soften, allow, do-nothing…. Be.