Breakneck

The whirl

Manas is the Sanskrit word for the perceiving, information-processing mind. I prefer the English phrase monkey mind; it captures the way my mind chaotically shifts from one stimulus to the next. And the way the thoughts overlap, leapfrog and contradict, peaceful and painful often jostling for the same spot.

This silent internal whirl is just the mind doing its job; thinking, analysing and preparing me for worst-case scenarios. It is keeping me alive, it believes. The mind is not a bad thing, it just does not know where to stop.

Delegate the mind. Let it do this job: If it stands at the gate of inner being, it will be doing the job properly, and you will not be troubled – Shantananda Saraswati

In peace, quiet and concentration, Manas is observed by us, we can see or sense its movements. Under observation it doesn’t run amok.

Instead it slows…

The limits it imposes lift. The limits we need for navigating the material world aren’t needed for peaceful inner lives.

In the quote above, the advice is to use the mind as an instrument, a servant to ourselves, to protect our equanimity, which is our natural state. Shantananda also advised us to: “provide the rest and make them (thoughts) give up.”

This implies a letting go of attachment to thoughts, beliefs and desires – actively becoming passive.

To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing… – St John of the Cross

Such words also suggest that in rest, a deeper, more fulfilling experience of life can be found.

Waves

Buddhists learn that desire is the root of suffering. When there is less desire, less emotion, less claiming and less grasping, the not wanting brings rest. It is less cerebral and more balanced – things are done less to satisfy whatever urge the mind has fastened on to, and more out of a natural movement to act.

With the mind more at peace, one has easier access to intuition and feeling, qualities found at a deeper level, in the stillness of the deep ocean rather than the turbulence of the waves on top. The thoughts that arise from this deeper place are simpler, more innocent and more brilliant than those of the thinking mind and the intellect. David Lynch calls this ‘catching the big fish’.

IMG-20190212-WA0003
by Sibvu

But who has the time to contemplate this these days, with the daily bombardment of so much information? For people inclined to analysing what their mind consumes, time and space is necessary to absorb information and make sense of it all. Without this, the junk piles up inside us.

The junk pile is all externally sourced and imported in. The chaos out there isn’t going away. The nature of things is dynamic, constant movement. In London this is accelerated. But we can exercise some control over ourselves and our internal world, bringing some stillness and observation which can then transform our relationship to this breakneck world.

 

A white flower grows in quietness
Let your tongue become that flower – Rumi

 

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

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How to Meditate in Portuh Bella

**Happy New Year from all of us at UDL**

 

…and let’s start with preserving our mental health.

It’s 2019 -:¦:-•:*'”*:•.-:¦:-•* *¨¨*:•. and it sounds like the celebrated 2020 is upon us. It seems a great way to begin the year is by becoming aware of our actions regarding our health. Meditation is one of those words that has a very personal definition, based on our tailored experiences. However, the word itself is quite revealing as to its definition outside of our fancy. It’s quite obvious that the prefix ‘med’ is related to middle and medium, etymologically speaking. The ‘tate’ bit…well, I guess it could mean many things that I’m not able to go into here but the key is medium, which is to be ‘between’.

The medium is a go-between for the spirit world and the physical/animal kingdom, connecting an understanding beyond the tangible or physical proof.

As a medium and an advocate for the conclusion of strictly physical standards as a qualifying measure, here’s a piece of common ether transference that you’ll have a very hard time proving and hopefully a much easier time feeling.   

  

Picture1

 

Did you know that our cells are all connected within by a type of liquid in something called an extra cellular matrix structure that behaves in a connected way. that we have consciously forgotten? Well that’s what I was told by Delbert Skeet, the Bowen Technique practitioner, who helped wake up the cellular memories of my body giving me back the keys to my vehicle. Continue reading

Rodent Spirit

I saw something last week and it has stayed with me.

The image was that of a dead rat, laid out near the Grand Union canal, limbs spread, claws raised and torso twisted…the moment of death had been perfectly captured and temporarily preserved.

Its body was ravaged but its eyes were wide open and bulging, jaw clenched, with its head turning to its right, bearing its teeth in a last-gasp attempt at self-defence.

The rat was surely never more alive than in its last moments. Death and life were equally there, with the exact crossover point on display. This was a warrior posture, pure yoga-unity.

The predator

I presumed it was the prey of the urban fox that has been sniffing around the canal side, ripping apart black bags and other foxy things. I’d seen a big rat scuttling by the kerbside a few days prior, the fox sniffing the same path shortly after.

Death comes to all creatures, but the rat’s fighting spirit was striking. I stopped and admired it. I have seen death come to people’s spirits long before their physical demise. The dead eyes of the addict in Ladbrokes, not so different to the eyes of the politician at the press conference justifying dropping white phosphorous on children.

But the natural death of the rat is not mirrored in our unnatural environment. Our number one predator is not a stronger creature, but the very economic system we live in. Stripping lives of their meaning, atomising people, herded with officespeak, corporate mediaspeak, propaganda, consumerism, the housing crisis and more. Lives are directed to acts of malice, avarice and injustice.

We all know people born in the wrong place at the wrong time, ill equipped for the assault that can come; not given time, let alone guidance. Then blamed as they suffer. From individual despair and loneliness to North Kensington suffering the slow puncture of jadedness. It’s not the chem trails, it’s the system that deadens the soul.

The end

Seeing the deceased rat, I took out my phone to take a photo, already knowing I would write about the morbid scene. But the grisly sight would not have portrayed the inner disturbance. My eyes took in the image, my mind furnished it with the nightmarish detail. An inverse of Proust’s madeleine, the dead rat took me into the future, right to my very end…

The one inevitability for all of us, but how will I go out? Quietly content with how I lived? Happy with what I did? Did I challenge injustice? Did I look after my offspring with benevolence and wisdom?

How will I live? In fear – clinging on to a wage and a hope for a better future? At what point will I fight? And when will I let go and accept?

Alive

What was truly alive was the rodent’s spirit; its desire to stay alive was the equivalent of the human whose eyes flicker with love and openheartedness, who can’t be beaten down by the trials and hardships they face.

Horror and death captured perfectly until an environmental health employee shovelled it up. We all face that fate, however we dress it up. How will I live? Playing the game to get b(u)y? Or honouring my aliveness and humanity? If those are the alternatives, I choose the rodent spirit.

 

 

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Simple and Deep

When a moment of knowing cuts through the mental chatter of depression, emotional pain or a turbulent time, it is a relief.

At that moment I receive a reminder of a place already known to me and I’m taken home again, where it’s warm, where there is always good company because when I am home – emotionally, mentally, spiritually – I am good company. 

There’s sense and order – everything is in flow; the material world is abundant and interesting directions open up.

What takes me from one state (heavy, Tamas) to another (light, Sattwa)?

Usually something simple. Meditation; exercise; a realization – simple acts. Deep too, because each contains so much personal history, work and thought. It is the culminating moment containing many more moments within it. They’ve merged and manifested something rich – a temporary state of satisfaction that propels me forward, energised.

But while this knowledge accrues, satisfaction dwindles eventually. Boredom, agitation, anger, pain…the ego dog is on guard.

But the way back home will present itself again soon enough and it will be simple and deep – just like us.

 

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Mind of Steel

This week we passed the middle of Ramadan and it probably means little-to-nothing to you so it makes no sense getting into the whos, the wheres and the whys about this topic because the aim here is not to convince you of anything political, religious or otherwise. It’s just an appeal to take three minutes of your WhatsApp time to think about something pretty deep.

For whatever reason, those who choose Allah as their bulwark/bastion have decided to honour this particular month as Ramadan and to only eat when the sun declines each day. They’re fasting a fast that doesn’t include water or any other oral sustenance at all.

Sounds simple, but to say it is one thing; to do it is another thing altogether. Continue reading

Urban Dandy Meditation #2

Urban Dandy Meditation #2 was on 29th March 2018 in Notting Hill. You should have come.

UDMed2

A new venture, aimed at people from North Kensington and further afield to engage in the practice of transcendental meditation and to stimulate discussion and creativity.

The theme for the second Urban Dandy meditation event was ‘What is freedom?’

Within this broad theme, the class considered the question ‘What kind of freedom is experienced in transcendental meditation?’ 

The group discussed the tightrope of being in the world, grappling with a plethora of pressures and seeking truth, whilst simultaneously not being fully of this world, and the resulting question – ‘If I’m not of this world, what am I of?’     

“I”

All participants reported that meditation facilitated a letting go, including of conventional understandings of the concept “I.”

This concept “I” can represent habitual roles, identity via nationality, religion, social class, political affiliation/non-affiliation, a strong identification with physical appearance, opinions, resentments, or taking a view of oneself as superior/inferior to others…

A human tendency is to spend energy looking for recognition and affirmation by playing any number of roles based on these identities, both consciously and subconsciously. We can deploy our energies fending off threats to these identities…

However, if these roles are seen for what they really are – habitual thought patterns – this energy is released and can be directed to benefit the whole person. 

Patterns

In meditation, socially constructed identifications become more noticeably insufficient and, over time, distance is established between them and the observer – the identifications start to be viewed as patterns created by the mind rather than absolute truths.

Underneath the choppy waves of these thoughts and beliefs is a deep ocean of stillness. In meditation, this ocean is accessed and experienced directly by letting go of expectations and letting go of reliance on thought as a way of knowing oneself.

This is what transcendental meditation offers access to…it is experiential, not intellectual, making it subtle, powerful and effective.

An experience of freedom in Notting Hill…but it didn’t stay in the building, a drop of it traveled with each participant into the night… 

 

By Tom Charles

@tomhcharles

Thanks to AC

Art by Angel Lewis