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Clarity of Mind

The world is a noisy place. Have you noticed? Obviously there are some places that are impossibly cacophonous by design. I lived in Manhattan for years, where there was not only the perpetual din of traffic, car horns, police sirens, pedestrian voices, barking dogs, and chirping birds; but other sounds, such as garbage trucks, subways, trains, boats, jackhammers, and gunshots. And by "pedestrian voices", I mean not only people talking loudly so as to be heard over the aforementioned din, but the literal screaming of people having arguments -- either because they're drunk, insane, or both -- as well as the breaking of bottles, throwing of metal trash can lids down the street, and so on. Same with New Orleans. I lived for many years in the heart of the French Quarter. There's a joke among musicians that jazz ain't nothin' but five motherfuckers playin' five different songs at the same time. And that's exactly New Orleans. At any given time music is pumping out of bars, restaurants, cars driving by, live bands at outdoor cafes, sundry street buskers (I'd know, I was one of them), and parades. Not just scheduled parades, but random second-lines coming down the street because someone died, or got married, or any other event that seems like a valid reason to beat drums, blow horns, whap tambourines, twirl hankies, spin umbrellas, and throw plastic beads into the trees. And when you finally leave a noisy city like New York or New Orleans, and visit a place like, say, the desert (which is where I now live), the absence of these sounds -- by contrast -- is almost deafening. That is, of course, until you've acclimated. Then you hear them all. The desert sounds. The wind. The crickets. The owls. The ravens. The coyotes yipping and howling. Neighborhood dogs. The house creaking. The woodstove clanging. The pipes whining. Your own breathing. Your human heart beating. Life is noisy. Everything is in motion. Everything is in a state of vibration. Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- is at rest. This isn't hyperbole, it's a scientific fact. We live in a field of perpetual vibration. Our ears register a very limited range of these vibrations as sound. Other creatures sense many more vibrations as sounds than we do, whose frequencies are either too high or low for us to hear. Fish register vibrations along their lateral lines, which essentially makes an ear out of the entire side of their body. It's all motion. Activity. Humming and buzzing, clicking and clanging. Screeching and whistling and whirring and scraping. It's crazy business. Life is noise, and we've all just gotten used to it. This makes death interesting to me. I like the idea that in death, there is the possibility of experiencing absolute stillness. Absolute silence. Absolute rest. The French use the term la petite mort -- or, "the little death" -- to refer to the experience of having an orgasm. For me, meditation is closer to what I imagine death to be. This isn't to say that I've ever achieved absolute motionlessness while meditating (again, not physically possible), but I have hit a trance state where everything slows down so much that it feels like a spinning wheel which -- for a moment -- seems to be spinning backwards. It's a state that feels like whatever it is we think we mean when we say "holiness". It feels sacred. A perpetual "Divine Instance", if you will. Interestingly, the two most profound times I've experienced this weren't while doing your standard seated meditation, legs crossed, hands in a mudra resting in the lap, straight back, chakras aligned, serpent kundalini presumably activated. Rather, once was while drawing at the eleventh hour (so to speak), preparing my art portfolio for a critical, time sensitive college review. Another was while riding my motorcycle solo from San Diego to Philadelphia and back, really pushing the limits of my ability to stay focused. And to be clear, these haven't been the only times I've experienced a sense of transcendence while meditating. But they stand alone as memorable because they were the closest to what one might call "out of body" experiences, achieved without the use of psychedelics, and in which there was no accompanying trauma. I've unfortunately experienced dissociative states as a result of extreme trauma, and technically these also had an "out of body" quality; but what I'm referring to is something less the result of shock, and more a very subtle and nearly perfect harmonic state that you kind of slip into like warm bath water. The feeling is both light yet grounded, euphoric yet calming.... and definitely familiar. In both cases, while I was conscious enough to perform the task at hand -- drawing a picture, operating a motorcycle -- there was also a departure. This isn't to say that I blacked out. I mean, I could remember having done the tasks of both drawing and riding respectively, but the way you'd remember a dream.... sort of after the fact. It sounds kinda nutty, and is proving more difficult to describe than I expected; but let's just say it's a flow state, and once you hit it, you don't forget it. You get a glimpse of something, and you want to go back and do it again.

We are energy. That's not a weird thing to say, and shouldn't be weird to read. It's a fact. We are literally energy. Yes, we have physical attributes; but more importantly, our matter is animated by something we technically can't describe. Sure, we math it out as "mass times the speed of light squared." But what IS it? I mean, at a molecular level our supposedly stable building blocks are held together by some pretty wacky theory, and set into motion by something we can sometimes predict, but honestly cannot easily or accurately explain. Life is in perpetual motion, but what makes it move? That's the question. Now if you're reading this hoping for an answer, it's not gonna happen. I'm a coach, not an oracle. I can help you get in shape. I can help you work through relationship issues. I can help you get motivated in your life, and replace bad habits with better ones. I can even help you develop confidence, build strong social skills, and crush all of your life goals. But when it comes to understanding these deeper mysteries, I'm just like you. I'm a part of the collective consciousness, whose one superpower is the ability to practice stillness for long enough that perhaps -- for just an instant -- I experience true clarity of mind, and get a hopeful glimpse of what lies in wait us for us beyond the veil. And for this reason, as always, I practice.... and suggest you do as well.

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