Monday, March 24, 2008

Quiz: What Color is Your Soul?

What Color is Your Soul? {8 results + artistic pics}

Your Soul is Purple - Artist, dreamer, creative. You are lost in your thoughts, and have a dislike of reality (probably finding it boring). You have to remember that every idea is based off the reality you know. Magic is everywhere, you just have to see it. Thinking, and creating things, are your top priorities (not to mention what you are best at). Keep at it, a little imagination can take you far.
Take this quiz!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Why Meditate? (Part 1)

In my previous post, "Who Am I?" I mentioned that I was meditating 20 years ago. Why did I start?

I was in my early twenties. I had just completed vocational school, and I was working full time.

One day, I was lying in bed and some strange woman kept asking me who the president was. At the time, Reagan was the President, but I answered Carter or Ford. I wasn't sure, and it was really hard for me to stay awake.

But then I woke up on my own. I was in a strange room. I asked the ceiling, "Where am I?" and I heard my mom tell me that I'm in the hospital. She explained that I had gotten into a car crash and had a concussion. "Don't you remember?"

I didn't remember any of it. After I got out, we drove back to the scene of the crash. I couldn't remember ever being there, but I did notice that the four-way intersection had only one stop sign.

Anyway, while recuperating, I wondered about my amnesia. Certainly I was awake and conscious when the crash occurred and before then. And witnesses said I was awake and conscious when I was removed from the car and had my head wound stitched. So where were my memories of all that? If a person is partly made up of memory and experience, was I really the same person who was in the crash?

I also considered my mortality. There was so much to learn before leaving Earth. I was especially interested in all those unexplained phenomena, such as telepathy, and psychokinesis.

So I embarked from our local library on a journey through the literature of such things. Being of a scientific mind, I followed the footnotes in the less speculative books. I don't remember exactly which books I read until I made my way to works on mysticism by Evelyn Underhill, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton, as well as The Cloud of Unknowing. I also read a bit about Taoism and Buddhism, including the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The basis of all this diverse experience of religion appeared to be meditation. And it seemed that meditation would help me cut through the fog of my existence. I wasn't really paying attention to my surroundings, and I needed to change that. So that's when I came across Lawrence LaShan's "How To Meditate" and undertook a discipline of meditation.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Who Am I?

I read about the "Who Am I?" meditation more than twenty years ago in Lawrence LeShan's "How To Meditate." When I decided to try it, I had already been meditating for a few months, counting breaths1 for 15 to 20 minutes each day, and doing contemplation2 an additional 10 minutes per day.

In the twenty year span since I first read about it, I did "Who Am I?" a total of two times. That's because I actually got an Answer the second time.

"Who Am I?" is a more mentally challenging meditation, compared with breath counting or thought bubbles. Maybe that's why it appealed to me back then. The idea is that you ask yourself, "Who Am I?" Then you wait for an answer, which most likely will be superficial, like your name or occupation. You tell yourself that the answer isn't right, and ask again, "Who Am I?" Keep it up for five or ten minutes. Set a timer to be sure.

Here's how a meditation might go:

Who am I?
I am John Smith.
But that's just a name you've been given. Who is the I that the name belongs to?
I am an engineer.
But that's just your occupation. Who is the I that has this occupation?
I am some guy.
But that's really just a description of your gender. Who is the I that has this gender.

And so on. Pretty cool, right?

So why not take a break from reading this and try the meditation yourself. Go on, try it now!

The Answer I got came from within me and from the Universe around me. It was wordless and colorless, like what you see on the screen when the reel-to-reel movie ends and the tape runs out. I've also had this sensation at the ends of dreams in which I die. This sensation has stayed with me all these years.

1. There are many ways to count breaths. LeShan's suggestion is to count exhalations from one to four and then start over again at one. You keep doing this until your timer goes off. You do not try to alter the rhythm of your breath. Beginners are encouraged to fill in the space between exhalations by thinking "and" on the inhalations. Sounds easy, yes?

2. In contemplation, you look carefully at an object. Without touching it, you stroke it with your eyes and try to sense how it feels. The object I used was a piece of bark from an oak tree from my backyard.