As the story goes, there was once a man in India who was leaving his village for good. As he left the village gates he saw a wandering mendicant. These are monks that have given up any fixed residence and wander the world at large under heaven’s providence.
The man ran up to the monk and said:
“I can’t believe it! I just saw you in a dream last night. In it, the Lord Vishnu said tomorrow morning, around 11, you’ll meet this wandering monk!”
“Ah, interesting,” said the monk, “what else did he say?”
“He said if the man gives you a precious stone you will be the richest man in the whole world! Do you have such a stone?!”
“Hmmm, let me see” said the monk as he rummaged around in his robes. “Ah, you mean something like this? Is that what you are thinking?”
He pulled out a diamond the size of a golf ball.
The man holds the diamond in his hand, amazed and asks:
“Could… could I have this?”
“Of course,” said the monk. “I found it in the forest, you’re welcome to it”
The man thanks him profusely and walks away, he has to sit down under a tree he is so giddy and filled with joy. Everything in his life has now changed. Anything he wants is within reach. And he sits dreaming of all the things he can now do. Sits there under that tree until it begins to get dark. As the sun sets, he gets up and heads back around the village and finds the monk sitting under a tree. He hands the diamond back to the monk.
“Could you do me a favor?” the man asks.
“What is that?” replies the monk.
“Could you give me the riches that make it possible for you to give this thing away so easily?”
from Rediscovering Life by Anthony De Mello
a little era
Bathtub reading: The Demon’s Sermons on the Martial Arts. A graphic novel of an old classic.
Riffing with the laws of Newtonian physics through code. Physics of motion in particular, functions of forces at play. Studying equations through immersive programming. Ultra casual games and eye mesmers are the theme. Also, novel insights and elicited potentials. Maybe sneaking bits onto facebook’s instant game platform. In the meantime, populating outposts that circumvent the big app stores on clipper ships of emerging tech called Progressive Web Apps; installs on devices’ home screens directly from an indie page.
Attempting to synthesize the sound of a water drop. Or something of a similar signature. Studying its form in sound through the spectral lenses of frequencies and time. The last time I did this was with crickets. And with throat singing. Long overdue, I love the kaleidoscopic microscope of visual FFT. And sculpting waves.
Collaborating on a mobile application for the hearing impaired, which works across mesh networks. These are created ad hoc, in small groups, and spurn reliance on upstream “providers” and infrastructure for peer communications.
Regimes of microdosing and nootropics. And developing practices to open communication channels with the inland sea of subconscious, perhaps the deeps beyond. There are other things on my mind, but I haven’t posted in a bit. And Hogwarts is back in session, winter break is over, witches.
“The moment I found out magic was real. That was the moment that I discovered who I am.”
-Magicians. Season 4, Episode 1
centered in presence, grounded in body, in process
to play in the moment
the trick is not more speed
but releasing the brakes
feeling this moment
take your shoes off
wiggle your toes
tickle someone you love
you may have noticed there are not 5 bears anywhere on that fake graphic. I don’t know what happened to them, they were there a minute ago…
- you’re going to need a lot of help
- luckily the help is usually sitting right in front or beside you
- it’s more about building a story than telling a story
- ask good questions
- let them drive
- find puzzles in what’s going on and ponder about them to yourself, out loud. you will get lots of help solving
- play out the facial expressions in scenarios… facial expressions are extremely fascinating to 5 year olds
- action! movement! play act! use props!
- compassion and heroism are popular themes
- so is shrinking monsters down to size for a fair fight or making them silly
- find new superpowers to overcome obstacles
- a lot of story friends want to help, that are in the stories
- it’s a cool lesson on how to dance with dreams, for both of you
I haven’t written on xyz for ages, so here’s an experiment. I learned this from an old miner named Noom.
It begins so. Most of our negative states (worry, anxiety, depression) stem from hanging out unconsciously in the water element. Water is a narrow, internal focus. A thought, a feeling. Something we turn over and over inside our heads. (Usually about something not right with our world. ) We get stuck in this cramped space. From here let’s try a path, a trail of sorts out to a different place. We’re not going to try to replace what’s here with happier feelings or thoughts, or even resolve anything at this level, we’ll leave everything just as it is, instead we’re going to go on a walkabout with our attention.
Focus now on something external. The breath maybe, its feeling on our nostrils, or a specific point of focus in the external world: that coffee cup on your desk, or a single sound. This is fire. Narrow, external focus. We’ve shifted our attention from an internal thing to an external thing. It’s still a narrow focus but we’ve shifted it to something more material than a thought or emotion. And in doing so we’ve shifted attention from water to fire. Keep attention on an object in this external focus for a few minutes.
Next, become aware of the entire field of vision but not any one thing in particular; or of all the sounds without distinguishing individual sounds. This is earth. Broad, external focus. It probably brings naturally in its wake a wave of subtle relaxation. This comes sometimes from unfolding awareness into a larger space than the “point” consciousness of water and fire, a space where we can catch our breath. This broader field state of awareness has been called Hakalua by the shamans of Hawaii. It’s a nice state to be in while walking in a crowd of people, there is a whole flow thing happening. You’ll find you can glide through the crowded subways of Tokyo like a fish through dancing seaweed. Stay in this expanded, external awareness for a few minutes.
The final maneuver to this yoga of attention brings us to where a subtle bliss hangs out, and is antidote to all moods and fugue states which spawn from absorption in water. Become aware of the feeling inside the body, not any particular place, but like the expanded sight and sounds of earth, try to take in the sensations of the entire body at once. This vast and shimmering unified field of sensations that make up the totality of presence in the body. This is air. It is a broad internal focus.
Most people aren’t aware that attention has structure. A particular orientation, either external or internal and a particular scope: narrow or broad. And shifting through these modalities with the senses, in a certain sequence, unlocks specific effects. In this case, freeing our awareness from submergence in unpleasant thoughts or feelings. The sequence is important (but experiment with yourself if you’d like to see if that is so.)
Play with being aware of what structure of attention you habitually reside in. And the effects of opening your field of awareness with earth and air on the quality of your day. For most of us, it’s like shifting to an entirely different mode of being. And with it, comes new channels of information about our reality.
The element Air may first seem strange to assign the body. But when we explore the field of sensation it’s surprising that most of our internal body sensation is actually space rather than a density we might have assumed before investigating first hand.
And we cannot be aware of this field of our body without also being present in the now. In fact, there are entire Buddhist, Yogic and Somatic practices based totally on hanging out here in the body with the air element. With attention spread from head to toe. Students of Gurdjieff are told to keep at least 80 percent of their awareness constantly in the body to become more alive, present and less of an automaton in daily life.
So if you ever need a little taste of lightness of being, especially when swallowed in some fugue or mood or the world closing in around you. Give this little mental asana a whirl and discover how specifically directing attention, in a prescribed sequence, can fundamentally shift the quality of experience. It’s like an escape hatch. And with just this superficial, level one spell of the elements, one might become curious about what else is possible working with elements.
Mastery of our moods and capabilities begins with mastery of attention
So the next post will probably be about a cool trick with the water element that leverages its unique properties in ways even more magical.
- The Structure of Delight by Nelson Zink
- The Awakening Body: Somatic Meditation for Discovering Our Deepest Life by Reginald Ray
- Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient: The Physical Foundations of Mindfulness by Will Johnson