Meditation and Gratitude

(The real names of the people below have been changed.)

For the first time, I leaned in during our dedication of merit, the part of the meditation session where we dedicate our sit to someone or something.

“I’d like to dedicate the merits of my practice to those who have shown me kindness and compassion. We often forget that in a jungle of hurtful people, there are those who still help.”

I didn’t say it exactly like that. I never speak as clearly as I write, but I finally spoke out because I meant what I said.

Most of my life, I’ve focused on negative people. I’ve often referred to them as “my enemies”. I thought that if these people were not in the picture, I would feel respected and understood.

My Buddhist reverend stresses the importance of compassion, reinforces it through repetition. It took years of going to practice for it to finally seep in. People have been compassionate to me, and I only wanted more from everyone.

Pam was the only person who talked to me in high school without me having to open up first.

Albert helped me when I was trying to make a movie. I wanted to be known as a young man.

Donna invited me to a party at age 23 when I hadn’t been invited to one in years.

Tanya set me up on a date when I couldn’t even get a hello from a woman.

Gabriel helped me be more confident about myself when I did get more dates.

Professor Dan sat me down and helped me set up this blog.

Ellen is my friend today and is always on the lookout for potential career contacts.

Mom and Dad did so much that they cannot be thanked enough.

I can’t owe it all to mediation. Meditation was the tool. I chose meditation because there was something in it, something I needed to sharpen my awareness and love of myself. I helped Marc first. Then, the door of perception opened and allowed me to see the things I needed see at the pace that I could bear.

I don’t know how I made the choice to help myself. Somethings will always remain a mystery.

Post-meditation Journal Entry # 15

April 2nd, 2018 (Duration of sit unrecorded)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt good about myself. I’ve told myself that I no longer need the acceptance, admiration, and validation that I’ve needed in the past. I don’t need to be Spielberg or what I thought I needed to be when I was 8-years-old or whenever those bad feelings kicked in. For the first time, I was shown this during my sit.

An image-feeling hit me a few minutes into my session. I rarely see a person paired with a strong emotion anymore. Instead, I’ve seen many complex three-dimensional objects and designs in the distance of my mind, but I saw the image of a person paired with an emotion once more. I can’t remember what the person looked like or what the feeling felt like, but whatever it was, it confirmed what I’ve been telling myself these last few weeks, I am where I am and I am no longer where I was.

I hope this sit means that I’m free from one more demon and I can breathe without the weight of needing approval from others.

Approval. Brutal approval. Brutal and endless need for approval, one of the worst forms of emotional slavery and psychological torture, a chain tied to an ankle, tied to a rock, a rock that does not erode in time, a rock that becomes heavier.

Post Meditation Journal Entry # 13

12/25/2017 6:24 am – 6:39 am

Many positive thoughts for this sit. Every now and then I’d feel a joyful feeling and see someone smiling at me. I can’t tell if I saw the smiling person first and then felt the joyful feeling or felt the joyful feeling and then saw the image of the smiling person . But again, I struggled with the whole thinking about thinking thing on-and-off, I follow out long strands of chain-linked thoughts and for almost an entire minute just think and think and think. When I meditate in group, it seems as though everyone else is doing it correctly and is just comfortable sitting, but I keep wanting to tend to my thoughts. But as I’ve been told that is part of meditation, living with the things that you only believe that you can control.

I count every breath now from 1 to 20 then start over again. I use it as sort of a training wheel until I can focus without it. I’ve asked myself if counting really does work or if it’s obstructive, but it’s allowed me to have some successes in concentrating and manifesting positive thoughts.

I felt a surge of creative energy this sit. I felt that I could tackle a project of mine with enthusiasm. As though if I fail it will not matter, journey-is-the-goal type of stuff. Beautiful.

I will end this entry on dreams. I had a few nightmares last night. The first dream, I was in my childhood home in the second floor back window (the bathroom). It was dark outside and teenagers were trying to attack the house by throwing stuff at it. I made an attempt to throw stuff back at them with my father. My father sort of lost interest, but I was intent on calling 911 for some feeling of safety. I was really scared. I fussed with the phone, trying to call, but for some reason I can never make phone calls or mess with numbers in dreams.

The second dream involved sort of a heavy guy on a wheel chair that wanted my undivided attention. He grabbed my arm and wrapped it around him and talked nice to me but there was a dark undertone about it. I attempted to leave and he became ugly and nasty and started chasing me on his wheelchair. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

Last night’s nightmare, this morning’s awakening. I still believe there is a balance of energy to the mind not unlike the physical forces of the universe.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry # 11 and # 12

8/13/17 (5:20-5:31, I could not find the first part of my writing.)

…like the feeling was one of being given was the intangible gift of human decency and consideration.

I felt moments of joy that were broken by the thought that I’m better at this. This was a very healthy sit. I still refuse to meditate up to 20 minutes at home, still impatient and I don’t know why. I feed my thoughts like a junkyard dog, guarding the rubbish of ego. I swear I tend to my thoughts more than anyone in this world.

Good sit. Very good sit.

8/21/17 (2:20-2:23, nearly 20 minutes before the solar eclipse)

I think I saw nirvana. It was drowning in cathartic emotion, like crying, like dying and winning the race.

I was angry. I saw the object of my rage and wanted to hurt that person for hurting me, insulting me. I’d been arguing with him in my head a better part of the day, trying to win the war, trying to take back the past. And for some reason (maybe because of years of practice) I just said, “No. I will not do this.” And then I could feel the emotion. It was immense joy bound together with a deep sense of trepidation. It was good, but it was overwhelming. It was scary, but I think it was love, maybe. I saw a cabin in a forest. It was small, more like a bungalow and it had a small porch and afternoon sunlight penetrated the trees to create a light around the perimeter of the cabin, a bright light that illuminated the dirt and made it more dense in detail and clear. And I think I saw Jesus. Either his image superimposed on the cabin or maybe him standing on the cabin porch. I tried to sit longer. I refused. I had to write it.

P.S. I thought about that emotion that lasted for a split second and I felt that I had felt that emotion at one point in my life. I couldn’t identify it for a minute or two. Then finally I said to myself, “This is what I have experienced on the future day of my death.”

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #9 and #10

8/5/17, 9:58am-10:02am

All I saw of any significance was a triangle shape, like a logo for a company. If I don’t meditate later today for longer, this part will never get in the blog. But I usually have better luck sitting for longer later in the day.

8/5/17, 5:23pm-5:30pm

I was expecting something too much. I couldn’t concentrate. Although there were a few moments where I experienced something. I don’t know how to describe it but “pleasant in the present”. Some moments go by so fast during meditation, but might as well be forever. They’re full of promise. Like getting the money you’re owed, the money you forgot about, the money you desperately need by the end of the week. And you didn’t even have to ask the person that owed you.

I put too much on myself to experience something more real than real. I’ve been entertaining the idea of blogging my entries and indulging in the possibilities as an outlet for me. I kept thinking about it while meditating. It made my session less honest and I couldn’t sit still.

The mind clings to things and I’m the best at it. I’m so pliable with creativity, but when I have an idea that I think is the answer to my personal problems I can’t adjust in my mind, can’t even see other possibilities, too much pressure to control the outcome, to minimize emotional and psychological damage, the opposite of the present.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #7 and #8

5/18/17, 1:23-1:46

I am changing. Every second a new thought to cling to, all dictating how to feel and perceive. So many thoughts.

I was successful and I don’t know how I was able to let them go one after the other. It was like changing cloths.

I can only vaguely remember one thought. It was a white male in his 30’s. Short, curly hair. He reminded me of the fat pledge from Animal House. He was wearing a white arctic outfit. I did not feel threatened by him. Although maybe I felt as though he was a loser. The type I’ve often needed to feel better about myself.

    

7/25/17, Time of day unrecorded, 8 minute duration

Chunky thoughts welled up. Or should I say a very big, chunky thought. Or a chunky chunk of thoughts. It was good and made me happy. And somewhat at peace. I’ve been having a lot of negative thoughts about my future these last few weeks, very gloomy. “Create your future,” the closest interpretation of the meditation’s message.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #6

5/14/17, 6:43-7:00

He was a fat man with buzz clipped auburn/brown hair. He came in the form of a weeble. I could perceive the number 700. I held him in my mind for what felt like a few breaths. I asked myself if this thought was mine, conceived from my own conscious mind. Usually, the thoughts that I entertain in meditation are conscious thoughts. But it was not a conscious thought. I could not have concocted this image from that same ego. I had just been battling the world on that conscious level, replaying heartaches and reimagining previous scenarios. This weeble man felt like a balloon, like a bubble rising from soda, but slowly, not popping. It was made of light but it was not an unreal, not an out of body experience. It was natural. Like breathing.

Then, just like Wile E. Coyote, who finally realizes that he’s run off the cliff, I realize that this object was not from my thinking mind. And it was gone.

It was a good sit. I saw a warm face and she smiled and felt that there’s good in the world. I saw and felt many things that I wanted to hold onto by writing it down. But I didn’t. I was too far into the journey. I don’t remember much else.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry # 4 and # 5

5/12/17, 5:00pm-ish, duration unknown

Today’s sit went by fast, but was hard. I want badly to catch the previous experiences, that deep experience. You feel like you’ve touched something. Today, I just didn’t touch anything.

I’m blocked as a writer, so I tried to start a screenplay today. I’ve completed screenplays in the past in between ages 14 and 21. I was bad at it but you couldn’t tell me otherwise back them. I thought that maybe since I completed screenplays in the past, I could finish one now and at least have a piece of work in my hand.

I had an interesting idea. But I couldn’t see the world of the story nor the protagonist. The elements that would compose the word of this story seemed flat and uncertain of itself. It was grey, cold and ashy. I reasoned that it was because I picked the wrong protagonist, so everything else fell apart. Story just might be too boring for me anymore. Not enough time to indulge in another writer’s stories, not sure where my story is going.

5/13/17, 10:00pm-10:20pm

The last thing I saw was Moby Dick. Also, I could see the sea vessel on choppy water.

Sometimes meditation is like dreaming. When you wake those thoughts and images slip away. But with meditation they just fade out like a candle and all you have is the smoke.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #2

5/7/17, 8:20pm – 9:00pm

More messages this time. They’re almost dream-like and too hard to translate. I’m grateful for them. I feel as though I’ve benefited from this sit. I saw betrayal, that’s the word that comes to mind. It usually comes in the form of the image of a woman. So what comes to my conscious mind when I think of betrayal?

Mom’s 1990’s ABC soap operas and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

My interaction with betrayal has been minimal. I don’t set myself up for it. Betrayal requires that you let your guard down and assume loyalty from another. I’ve never felt loyalty, always the loyalty-bearer. I’ve been careful in this life to not act on any oath-breaking impulses with friends and colleagues, it’s not who I am and I don’t want the problems.

So why would betrayal popped up from the subconscious? Is it what the universe wants me to do, to be more vulnerable to those impulses, to take advantage of imbalanced relationships and live a little and stop being so nice?

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #1

May 7, 2017, 1:01pm-1:07pm

I don’t know why I can’t meditate for longer than 5 minutes without looking at a clock or watch. This time I held the urge. It made me realize that I was just looking for an excuse to break from my practice. A fact like that, so obvious, evaded me. Seemingly obvious things have often evaded me.

The meditation itself: I saw someone observing me, my reaction. It was real. Not real as in a sentient being, but an image. He reminded me of the alien at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The one with the beer belly who did the hand sign, but his face was tall-like. He had a light-blue tint to him and he seemed to be smiling, but he was curious about who I was in this new environment, his environment (a new job maybe). I don’t know if I could trust this image/thought/person. I’ve always gotten along with people, but I’ve had mixed results with whether or not I can really trust him or her, 50/50. The Unknown is always 50/50, malicious or benign, the universe its record playing its notes.

Photo and writing by Marc Alexander Valle.