In the Summer of 1996, when I wasn’t even 21 years old, I was pretty burned out on this life stuff. I remember boarding the plane to fly to Texas to visit my Dad, and I was lower than low. It didn’t help that I had only slept 2 hours, after driving back from playing a horrible show in Columbus the night before. Everything always ran late with the band I was in, and it was wearing on me. We would often sprint into clubs carrying our gear, having already missed sound check, usually 15-30 minutes into our set. Set up in front of the agitated crowd and staff, and then try to rock so hard they’d forget how unprofessional we were.
“This is what I put college on hold for?” was all I could think of as I took my seat, fastened my seat belt, pulled my hoody up over my face, and crashed. I was expecting that same question from my Dad later that day. It was a complete state of disconnection. I hated my talent, because it had arranged this less than ideal lifestyle. I had been in love with Gayle for almost a year, and she still had a boyfriend. I was completely divided over whether I should return to school. We played just enough shows at that point to make it impossible. I worked odd jobs in between 4 day weekends of shows. I cooked riblets at Applebee’s, or drank at Main St. Cafe while I chopped vegetables. Not to sound like too much of a unappreciative little prick, but everything I was living at that point seemed far beneath what I envisioned for myself.
Soon after take off, the woman next to me woke me up. “You need to eat something. ”
I sipped some coffee, ate the danish, and started chatting with this weirdski next to me. Her name was Alee, and she was a hairdresser in Escondido, CA. Within 5 minutes, she told me that I was a musician, that I was clearly having some existential crisis, and that I needed to chill the hell out. Intrigued, I asked her more questions.
“How would you know what I need?” She responded with the truths that took me another 8 years to figure out. My focus was completely off, I should meditate to clear my mind, I could have lingering issues from a past life, etc. This info wasn’t foreign to me, as my Mom and her sister were well into the metaphysical stuff. But to fall asleep in shambles, and then to feel all of the resistance draining out of me within minutes of waking was pretty incredible. By the time we landed for our layover at O’hare, I was in a state of hyper-lucidity over my situation. I said goodbye to Alee, and we exited out into a crush of travelers.
After hitting the john, I was washing my hands and looking in the mirror. My eyes were sparkling with this manic, firey energy. Somehow all of my potential was brimming up, and instead of choosing to resent it, I was now in awe. What the hell did that lady do to me? I had to find her to thank her.
There were thousands of people in every direction up and down the concourse. I was hundreds of yards from our arrival gate, and needed to start thinking about where I needed to be for the next departure. I picked an escalator, and was pushed from behind up against the person in front of me. It was Alee.
“Whatever you pulled out of me changed me for the better. I feel incredible. I needed to thank you.”
“I’m going to have a smoke outside. Want to talk some more?”
I followed her outside to this strange little tree lawn. While she smoked, she unleashed this crazy flow of wisdom about energy, coincidences, higher powers, reincarnation, and how to tap into all of it. I could feel time slowing down to the point where it didn’t matter. It was a timeless zone we were standing in, and the Chicago morning was sparkling with energy all around me. Seriously, like people glowing and what not. People passing by me would smile, because they could feel the love radiating off of me. At this point in my life, it was the most profound connection I had ever experienced.
So what do I use from this experience in my current day to day? As with any moments of enlightenment, or clarity, so much of life is about battling our way back to those feelings. Chasing the euphoria dragon. One of the best tips she gave me before we had to say goodbye was a method for meditation.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about meditation lately. I take these as signals that our mass consciousness is evolving, and is in need of a deeper connection. What’s so cool about this, is that if you’re a cynic or a naysayer, you’ve already stopped reading. You can’t feel this level of vibration. But if this is something that even remotely interests you, it’s probably worth your time to examine where you are in your self-care. Are you looking for something deeper, or have you recently tripped over it?
Below is my original method of meditation, which the mystical Alee shared with me. It has evolved over time, so I’ll share what’s been working for me lately.
The goal of meditation is to dissolve the layers of static between your conscious mind (ego) and your higher self (pure consciousness). You do this by shutting off the brain while still maintaining alert awareness with your body. Most people find it impossible to switch off their monkey minds. Take it in small time segments. The first time I really did this I was only able to transcend for a minute or 2. You can’t walk out your door and expect to run a marathon. Unless your nuts, or have a giant ego (which means you are nuts). Meditation is no different. The goal is silence within the screen of the mind. From there, everything is possible.
First, let’s look at ways to “trip” over mind clarity.
Well how do we turn off our minds naturally, without even thinking about it?
1) When confronted with immaculate, natural beauty. Scenery, a baby, the vastness of space on a clear night.
2) When swells of emotion blow through, either in loss or in gains. Ace a test? Book a $1MM sale? Lose your best friend, or everything you own? The ego is removed by something much deeper and real. You can feel it. A massive gain removes all self doubt and judgment. A massive loss reminds you of what really matters. All you’re left with on either end is pure consciousness, the endless well of potential, knowing, love, and truth.
3) Some religions can cause this connection regularly. I knew a bassist in his church band who would “hover above myself” while he played. This is a form of rapture, and it can be brought on by intense fixation on anything positive that we resonate with. Some people call it Christ, for others it’s a fat hip-hop beat. It connects us with our being. I’ve had my moments in my music, or in my writing, or in my family life. It’s another way of temporarily dropping all of the ego’s labels and limitations.
My Current Meditation Method:
1) Find a calm, quiet place with as few distractions as possible
2) Sit in a comfortable chair, or in a comfortable position on the floor
3) I either cup my hands together in my lap (facing up), or lay one hand (face up) on each knee. You’ll often see yogis or Buddhists making an “OK” gesture with their hands. The hands are a conduit for energy, and can be positioned like a circuit or antenna. Don’t fold your arms, because that is a closing off of energy. Make sure your spine is completely erect, like an antennae between the Earth and the cosmos.
4) Your goal is to hear only silence, so if you can’t do that in the space you’re in, you’ll need some white noise to zone out to. I used The Sounds of The Ocean CD on my train rides in Chicago. Talk about a loud environment. “North & Clybourn is next. This is a Redline train to…” Load your iPod with some different options. Make a playlist called “meditation.” My current go-to is a Hemi-Sync CD called “Dreamcatcher”. It’s a whirly mood of didgeridoos, swells, drips, etc. It’s paced to take me deep within 5 minutes.
5) Your goal should be minimum of 10-15 minutes, ideally first thing in the morning. Your mind is most likely to be quiet at this time. Carve out this time before you start thinking about feeding the cat, or your kids, or your drive to work, etc.
6) To find the calm within yourself, you’ll need to practice. You’ll only get glimpses at first. Maybe a slight body buzz, a subtle sway in your body, positive images and answers to questions you’ve asked recently.
7) When I start, I close my eyes and picture sitting by myself in an iMax theater. I’m dead center, so the screen wraps above, below, and all around me. It’s my full view of my consciousness. Every passing thought is an image on the screen. I start on the left side, and just wipe the whole thing to clean white.
8) Whenever another thought surfaces, delete it. Don’t judge yourself or get into a conversation with your ego about why you’re thinking what you are. That’s the ego’s way of keeping you locked in the unconscious state. Don’t engage.
9) Within a few minutes of pure white, quiet focus, you’ll start feeling your own presence. Sometimes I’ll get swells of goosebumps, or a body buzz, or the feelings you get when a scene in a movie kicks your ass. I’ll try to acknowlege this reconnection with a thought like “welcome back.”
10) Once you get to that deep place, stay there for 10 minutes. Not that you should even think about the clock or what else is going on.
11) As I’m about to exit the meditation, I’ll recite whatever current mantras have been serving me well. (light as a feather…. today i will only see that which i want to see…. today i will bring a joyful interaction to every being who crosses my path… i’m a force for good and for love…). Wow, it’s still hard for me to share some of this deeply personal stuff here. That would be my ego calling it corny or whatever. All I can tell you is that when you get to the state and you recite TRUTH to yourself, you can feel your power multiplying exponentially. There are ripples emanating out from you at the center.
Everything and everyone around you loves the connected part of you, and bitches and moans about the disconnected part of you. That’s the truth. We’re taught that both sides are still us, that people should take the good with the bad. I’m telling you from my years of paying attention to my cycles of connection and disconnection that all of us are walking icebergs. There is the frigid, guarded facade we expose to the physical world, and there is the mountain beneath the surface. The water line is the layer of static between our shallow selves and our deeper selves.
The key difference between people who live marginally fulfilling, yet stressful lives, and those who live extraordinarily successful, happy lives, is in their ability to tap into their deeper reserves. The best we can do each day is to maximize these connections. We can spend more time enraptured by the beauty around us, in quiet contemplation with ourselves, or in consciously choosing the light over the dark.
My coin is becoming a weighted coin. Hope this helps my friends. Mad love and light your way.