Apparently, all I can think to blog about anymore is spiritual stuff. I know it seems really wishy-washy. I hope to weed out a lot of spiritual bullshit though (my own, I mean, hopefully) - or at least weed out stuff that won't work for me - - and give reasons why. And I'm going to mention stuff that DOES work for me.

Two items:

First: I was with people who were describing their most joyous recent moments, occasions, incidents or events - times when they had experienced their greatest joy recently. When it felt like my turn to speak, I told them that I had recently reached a point where it felt like I had disappeared. I tried to describe it, but the words just weren't working. I remember it pretty clearly though, and I'll try to describe it: I was outside of work smoking a cigarette, just standing there. I decided to take an auditory inventory, like I do sometimes to get calm. I tried to count or inventory every single sound I heard: every bird, every vehicle, every little breeze - everything. And for a moment or two, it felt like I was no longer there. My awareness of myself - the awareness of myself that I am familiar with - that self no longer seemed to be there. I felt empty (good empty...great empty...the best empty). I could feel myself going in and out of it - like I was coming in and out of a sleep. I was intake only. All my shit: my thoughts, my feelings, my judgments, my memories -- all of it - all the stuff that I ordinarily recognize as me seemed to be gone - and in its place? It seemed like I was just a part of the surroundings. I've zoned out before, a zillion times, been a wallflower...but this was very very different. This had a crazy joy to it. "I really can't describe it to you," I told those people, "because I wasn't there to experience it." (I kind of stole that joke, adapted it anyway).

The second thing:

This same group of people were discussing or debating how to respond to threat: Should you get really still and calm inside so that you can make a sound judgement, or, fuck that shit: you should respond instantly on instinct, survival instinct, forget that wishy-washy stuff, you have to act. You can't be pussy-footing around like some pansy. But: I favored the first option, I just couldn't think of a good way to argue for that at the time. Well, I was thinking about it more afterwards, and I thought of this: An old boss of mine from DC works as a volunteer EMT in her off hours. She runs ambulance calls on the weekend and on some week nights. I compared her attitude at work with the way she described her ambulance calls. At work, she would get stressed and pissed and flustered, no more than the average person, I guess, but still - she would frazzled at work. She was not a model of calm stillness at work. But: Then she would describe some of the calls she would go on in the ambulance: she would describe a situation like this: She came to a scene where a teenager had just wrecked. He was bleeding everywhere and it looked like he was about to die. She could smell the liquor all in the car. The car was completely thrashed, just a twisted mass of metal that didn't even look like a car anymore. The guy's stereo was still blaring when she ran up to the wreck... she would describe the situation in amazing detail... Upon hearing a story like this, I would ask: "What did you do? What do you do in a situation like that? Did you freak out? How do you do it? How do you not freak out? I would have freaked out!" She said no, she did not freak out. She said she was completely calm. There was a heightened state of awareness that came over her. She knew exactly what to do. She followed her training precisely. She felt like she was right in her element. She felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be, and she was supremely confident that she would do exactly what needed to be done. So in answer to the above question: when faced with disaster, should we: immediately act on instinct through the force of our fear, or should we act from a state of mind that is completely clear and aware: This, to me, is proof that one should act from a state of mind that is completely clear and aware. If you can. There are those that say the following, and it's true: You never know how you'll react to adversity until the moment of truth. Mike Tyson had a great great quote: "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face."

But this guy, Bentinho Massaro, has some great words related to this too, about the mind and calm versus chaos: "...awareness is constantly here. It's seeing the silence, equally, as it is seeing the disturbance. There is no difference to awareness."

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