Removing Mystery from Meditation

Removing Mystery from Meditation
Removing Mystery from Meditation

Meditation has such a mystical and mysterious connotation that it can overwhelm even the most well meaning people. It really shouldn’t. Truth be told, we all meditate, in one way or another. What meditation can bring is a focus of the mind and a better body feeling. Sounds quaint? Well, it is.

Removing Mystery from Meditation

We all meditate. We just don’t know that we do. When we concentrate on a problem, or relax and be present in the moment, it is a form of meditation. There are many forms of meditation and it is not rocket science. It does require perseverance and a dedicated amount of time every day until you see the fruits of your labor. Most people feel a sense of frustration after the first few minutes of well-being, which turns into a chaotic mental state. Simply put, the first time you practice meditation, you feel good. Unfortunately, that moment is most likely followed by a mental state filed with a barrage of thoughts stopping the well-being. So how do we continue feeling good because we finally allow ourselves to relax and curtail those nagging thoughts coming in?

Meditation Balancing Left and Right Brain

There are many tricks to achieving a successful meditation practice. The trick is to get your left brain occupied. The most well known forms of practices involve focusing our minds on breathing, staring at a candlelight, or anything that gets both left and right brain hemisphere preoccupied. You see, your left hemisphere is the part of your brain that counts, keeps tab and organizes everything. It sorts your experiences in a way that makes it easier to recall them later. Without it, we would be basket cases. However, our psychoses and neurosis use our left hemisphere to control and keep everything in check. The trick is simple. Use your left brain preoccupied doing something important so that your right brain can focus on the task at hand.

Mystery in Meditation Is Fun

OK, so I fibbed a little, but the title was to get you to read. If you are here, then it worked :)

Yes, there is a certain amount of real mystery with  meditation and that mystery can be fun to discover. Science, with its empirical measuring system cannot explain how meditation works, but it reports on the many benefits. Meditation has been associated with a healthier life and Tibetan Buddhist monks have been shown to comfortably endure sitting naked in the snow for hours by just meditating. Well versed practitioners have baffled scientists by lowering their hear rate to the point of being declared clinically dead. But short of these feats of human powers, meditation brings you and I a lot into our every day life.

Meditation, One Step At a Time

The only way to progress with meditation is to do it every day. A little more. A little longer. As you continue, and especially not stop as soon as you feel better, you will see that your mind is more focused. Things come easier to you.

Who am I to say these things? I’m the one who made most of the mistakes beginners do. I am impatient. I know it all, and especially, it comes easily to me. To this day, I don’t have a regular meditation practice, but I still strive to do so. My goal? It’s simply to calm down enough and enjoy those amazing gifts a human life gives me. And at 50, it’s never too late to wake up.

Elders as Guiding Lights for the Younger Generation

Embracing endings and beginningsMy work with the Mankind Project has only started to take me through an amazing journey. Not only do I highly recommend every men to join and do the work, and there is a women’s circle also, but I vouch for its efficacy in helping me go through my passages.

Elders Guiding the Younger Generation

A few weeks ago, we had to let go of our youngest member since things weren’t working out. This has nothing to do with the Mankind Project, and is part of a group of professionals I work with. It was a very difficult decision, since we like him, but his erratic behavior and borderline anti-social outbursts put us at odds with him. It dawned on me that this younger generation, the 20 year old something, is missing out on the fuller social life my generation witnessed. Although he was called out on his mistakes and promised ever to repeat them and check in with everyone before acting, he never apologized, nor even cleaned up the mess. He continued to make the same mistakes. It was troubling, even puzzling.

A week ago, I declared myself an Elder with the Mankind Project’s Elder Body Council. I’m almost 50 and think getting older is fun. That’s because I’ve had a full and fun life. Aging is more of a relief than a fear. I love people with white and gray hair. I turn to them for council. Elders have had time to turn their experiences and knowledge into wisdom.

Elders Distill Knowledge into Wisdom

The Elders’ body is here to help young men go through their trials and passages. I never felt this was more needed than now. I’m looking forward to working with these incredible men, as they help me age successfully. I hope we can reach out to that twenty-year old something generation in dire need of guidance and help. It seems they received none.

As to my friend? I wish him well and that he learns the rich subtleties of social dynamics.

Completing your Career Painting

Career paintingIn many ways, our career should be a reflection of what we love and are here to do. Unfortunately, for many, careers are a means to pay for rent and justify buying things. It’s no wonder why so many people are unhappy with the way things are.

Painting Your Career

Previously, I wrote about saying goodbye to make previous career as an alternative energy transportation writer, but the longer I say goodbye, the more I realize that it is not a goodbye, but a change. I realized I can’t write only anymore, and enjoy meeting people, connecting, video shooting and generally, being a media provider. That also includes one of my fondest passions, I love to talk about those technologies and what they mean to the world, our planet and our society. Having said this, I realized I’m adding layers to my current one-dimensional writing career.

Facing the Facts

If I face the facts, and we should always face the facts, I’m not the world’s greatest writer. I do, however have a passion and love to communicate. I somehow believe it only happened through writing. And for a while, it worked. The problem is that our society and its odd financial woes doesn’t cater to people making money reporting or writing on specific topics anymore. Simply put, writers don’t get paid well writing anymore. Ask anyone who does, even those at Bloomberg or Forbes. The pay rate is dismal at best.

Still, I love to write, but realized it can’t be the only thing I want to do. I love to meet people, talk to them, hear their ideas and see how I can be of help. I love talking, engaging others, hearing their thoughts, ideas and especially, thoughts on the subject. Being a Subject Matter Expert, SME I particularly love to hear what people think of electric vehicles, EV, energy storage and renewable energy. I love to hear about their point of view when I breath and live it every day of my life. My angle is obviously wider since I write, read and communicate about those topics daily.

Building that Perfect Career

Now I find myself at that crux, that perfect fulcrum where I see what I have done, I see what is available and I start to perceive what I’m trying to create for myself. In a nutshell, a role where I become a spokesperson for various technologies, products and services. With my journalistic background, my contacts and more, I am an asset to both startups, but established companies looking to make a switch into this EV/Renewable Energy world. The trick is to hold the image dear in your mind and make sure whatever you do is part of feeding that image/desire.

Simple, no?

Verizon FIOS false advertising a free tablet without the two year contract

Verizon fios false advertisingIf a Verizon FIOS representative comes to your door and claims a free tablet, beware! Verizon FIOS falsely advertizes a free tablet without mentioning another two year contract.

No one likes a big monopoly, especially one that plays a deaf ear after false advertising complaining. Verizon is so big, it feels it can falsely advertize a product for free when it isn’t and patiently wait for you to forgive this practice. So what has this to do with Verizon falsely advertising to me?

Verizon FIOS false advertising a new tablet

Beware of Verizon representatives knocking on your door to get you to switch to the company’s fiber optic network, FIOS. A representative of Verizon has falsely advertised a free Samsung tablet if I would sign up then and there. The problem is that the tablet is not free, and comes with a two-year contract. The Verizon representative even had the gall to ask me how I would use this tablet.

For many years, Verizon thought it could justify a costly fiber network to our homes by charging more than cable. Yet, cable is a little faster, and was cheaper until a few months ago. Still, things change and even the great Verizon must come to face reality seeing more people in my neighborhood using cable than the costly and Netflix crippled FIOS. Next, we can talk about creating a VPN so that Verizon doesn’t throttle back your Netflix speed. Armed with a two year contract for FIOS, a sales representative from Verizon named Ivan showed up on my doorstep and dangled a free tablet if I would sign up. Since I was looking for a better deal, I signed with the tablet as the extra cherry on top. He neglected to tell me in order to get the tablet, I would have to sign up for an extra two-year contract at $10 a month. Good old Verizon false advertizing!

Verizon false advertising with bait switching practice

Two weeks later the email to claim my presumably free tablet came in. Unfortunately, it asked for a two-year contract. I called Ivan who profusely apologized having not been told about this from his manager. Ivan said he would talk to his manager and would call me right back to make it right. That was a month ago. I left a few voicemails on Ivan’s phone, but Ivan chose to weasel out and not man up. I wouldn’t have minded if Verizon had done a better job training the canvasser by telling me there was a two-year contract to use this tablet. Like everyone, I like being told the truth.

Verizon false advertising, escalating the matter

I also contacted Mike Murray, Director – Government & External Affairs, here in the Long Beach, California area to bring to his attention of this Verizon false advertizing with a bait and switch tactic. You can email him at mike.murray@verizon.com if you too, have also dealt with the same Verizon false advertising practice. Mike Murray showed the same courtesy as my less than professional representative by not contacting me back.

And so, I will escalate this slowly, but surely. A tablet is not the end of the world, but false advertising is not a great thing to be dangled in order to switch service, especially from a monopoly bent on lobbying the goverment on trying to reign in the Internet. That’s called bait switching. This is not the best thing to do when Verizon is trying to paint itself a green image by using the token solar array installations on a few building in order to look like a green company. Verizon is red.

Verizon, can you hear me now? Because I certainly don’t appreciate being dangle a product for free in the form of false advertizing and then dealing with deaf ears. Be careful with any representative from Verizon bait and switch false advertizing.

Saying goodbye to a career, embracing the unknown

Embracing endings and beginningsSaying goodbye to a career and embracing the unknown can be difficult. Tell me how tough this one is. For the past 7 seven or eight years, I’ve been writing about electric vehicles, and to a certain extent, alternative energy. I noticed I was getting paid less, even though my popularity rose. This last new moon made me finally realize, it was time to let go and embrace the unknown.

Let go, embrace the unknown

This new moon is about moving towards more clarity and organization, as well as a renewed energy. These themes should help us get back to the tasks we put on hold. I now I have. I’m using this time to bring to light clarity around this particular ending and this unknown new beginning.

It’s not always easy identifying what is ending, and even less what needs to end. It can take months for me. I drag myself through successive stages of frustration, pumped up energy, let downs and a myriad of ups and downs that remind me of Einstein’s definition of madness: to try the same same over and over expecting different results.

End of a career, embrace the unknown

I started new mantras on an appealing Hindu Goddess, Kali. Kali is fearsome, but she is fair and removes unwanted negative ego traits in a merciless way. It’s a ritual that helps embrace this ending and the new beginning. I try to remind myself that when something ends, something new to begin.

Embrace the unknown, but what is ending?

When I try to identify what is ending, it’s seems clear. My career as an electric vehicle (EV) journalist is coming to an end. I get paid less now than I did when I wasn’t as popular. I can blame a few tings. A lot of mainstream automotive journalists are now writing about EVs. They have published on big sites and magazines, eclipsing us independent writers. They also get paid, and most of us don’t. It’s a labor of love. The fact that some of the comments we independents get are nasty from people who hide in anonymity, doesn’t help. None the less, EVs are here to stay, and I feel I played my part.

Mitsubishi Solar hasn’t answered my emails, nor am I getting feedback from my other alternative energy writing endeavor. I’m starting to see this as a sign to move on.

Embracing endings and beginningsEmbracing the unknown

That’s a tougher one to identify. Beginnings are tough to figure out because I don’t stop and linger. I’d rather jump in and embrace the new. After a few decades of doing this, I realize I’ve neglected an important aspect — closure. I’m giving myself closure time. I want to see how it feels to abandon writing at this stage of my career and move away with as little ego as possible. Hopefully, by doing this, I’ll be able to appreciate why is knocking on my  door. Using the new moon period is a great way to establish a transition from this ending to the new beginning. This particular New Moon is important because it supports clarity and organization.

One thing is certain. I still haven’t incorporated spirituality and the socio-human theme in my life. I want this to come to the forefront now.Embracing endings and beginnings

 

People, Profits, Greed and the Solution

Everywhere you look in the news, the words people, profit, greed and solutions show up. Everyone is quick to point to greed as the factor weighing down our economy and enslaving millions of people. If that is so, why are we participating in this economy? Better yet, why do we spend money on corporations that contribute nothing to our well-being?

Neither for, nor against

Gandhi made a great point one day. The revolution starts from within, not holding anti-banners at street corners or being an engaged activists. You don’t like something? Don’t put any energy into it. Don’t buy it, don’t think about it, don’t even mention it. Situations arise because we give it the chance to become, or more to the point, because we feed energy into it. If you don’t agree with this, that means you are here to experience this rigmarole. Enjoy it.

Politics haven’t solved anything, on the contrary

I love my political friends. However well meaning they are, they suffer from delusion. Democrats want to vote for the lesser of evils, and Republicans want to vote to restore order. However, when you ask them simple questions like, when was the last time the dollar’s purchase power was above inflation? Most can’t answer. That’s because most of them weren’t aware around 1959, the last time a dollar bought you more than it cost. So what have we been voting for these past six decades?

Things will get better!

We hear that often, and surely it must be true. If we had a penny every time we heard this, we’d be pretty rich right now. But the gist is, nothing comes without a little tension. The trick is managing it well. Still, as long as we don’t self-regulate, things will get better, but will take a long time. When we self-regulate, we enjoy common sense, which means there is no need for rules. That also means we don’t have to trust people to enforce and interpret such rules.

If you really want to help the economy, shop wisely

If you really want to help the economy, shop wisely. Don’t spend your hard earned dollar subsidizing politicians and other bloated corporations. Shop locally. Put your money where your mouth is. For every right, there is a duty.

Second, adopt a slower and healthier lifestyle. Give yourself time to think and re-evaluate what is important in life. Nourish your mind, learn to think and meditate.

In the meantime, stop subsidizing millionaires playing ball. Seriously, how silly is this? Stop going to cheaper mega-stores (yes, I know easier said than done) Think again next time you vote left or right. Ask yourself: “What have they done the past 60 years?

Alone in a Crowd

There is an old saying that goes something like, better be by yourself then alone in a crowd. Although, I see the wisdom in it, I question how we are equipped to make sense of it.

The week of deaths

This week has been plagued by deaths around us. Robin Williams takes center stage and somehow, really troubles me still. Other friends on Facebook told how a loved one passed away. Many of them did. It’s odd, because at the same time it is the month of Leo Birthdays. I never knew there were so many Leos out there. But like most vivacious, social creatures, I wonder how many resonate with being alone in a crowd. I know I do, sometimes.

My whole life is centered on building teams, groups of people working intelligently together. I can’t say I’ve been very successful. Even my last project is turning out to be a cacophony of individuality and sub-group actions. My fellow editor breaks a news via a cut and paste PR release, not giving me the opportunity to write about it. Hey, I’m an electric vehicle (EV) writer and need every single opportunity I can grab. I don’t get paid for this. At least, let me write about it. My other two colleagues decide to do a podcast without me and chose to do it on EVs. I’m stumped… At this moment, I’m waiting to friend to come by and pick me up to help him on a Saturday. He’s flaking out… again.

Listening to life’s messages

I’m starting to get the feeling that life is telling me to do something else. That, writing about EVs has run its course. I was fortunate enough to be one of the first three EV writers back then. Maybe, I did what I was supposed to do. Maybe I should now concentrate on alternative energy. Surely there is more compensation there. I’m keeping my horizon wide and open, asking only for well-being. That seems to be the catch all…

In the meantime, this Robin Williams quote haunts me:

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone”

I am thankful to have Virginia, my mother and Virginia’s mom in my life.

Update: And just now, a close friend of mine left me a voice mail saying she’s at the end. Yikes, what is going on? Is it time for society to change or what?

This gives me even more motivation to go forward.

Robin Wiliams Death, a Toll on Humanity

robin william deathIt’s been a few days since we found out about the Robin Williams death news. It is tragic and it haunts me.

Robin Williams Death, how to spot a sad person

Robin Williams’ death is sad and hopefully will serve to raise awareness around the fact that it is not those who look the most down who are the most suicidal. If you want to spot a potentially depressed person, look at the the one who smiles the most, the one who takes care of the most people around them. I think in many ways, Robin Williams was the perfect empath.

It haunts me even five days after finding out about his death. A few quotes have floated around and the ones that grabs me the most is that he was afraid of dying alone, but what he never knew is how people can make you feel alone. Well, Robin Williams made me feel it was OK to feel like an alien. Nanoo-nanoo, sort of.

The Robin Williams death should serve as a reminder that our society, though advancing in leaps and bounds technically is emotionally crippled. One of the reasons I joined the Mankind Project is because I never felt any comfort or emotional help from men, or very rarely and little.

Robin Williams death tragedy

To put a plastic bag over your head and do away with yourself takes a lot of courage, and a lot of energy. It must be hard to kill yourself. It must be even harder for his wife of two years. His tragedy should also remind us that Hollywood is brutal and heartless world. I sometimes help a good friend of mine at the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market where I see a fair share of movie actors. It’s actually sad to see them. They must either uphold a stoic persona and make sure nothing seeps through the cracks, lest the swarm of parasitic paparazzi snatches a picture of them displaying ordinary human activities. How can we read those celebrity magazines? Are we no better than the local peeping tom?

Some of the celebrities I see keep a low profile, but most look like they are living with the constant weight of being recognized anywhere they go, regardless of what they do. They simply cannot be themselves.

Robin Williams’ death touches me for a different reason, because not too many knew how sensitive he was. Many said he was a drag addict. But drugs are only a shield from a harsh, undigested reality. His death reminds me that everywhere there are many people quietly suffering, some of whom are right under noses, unrecognized.

I hope Robin Williams’ death will help and serve to raise awareness. That is the least we can do to celebrate a man who made us laugh, and touched our heart, Robin Williams.

robin william death

Do you suffer from Nomophobia?

NomophobiaYes, welcome to another phobia, another name, something else we need to be careful about, nomophobia.

What is Nomophobia?

Many of us suffer from nomophobia. I know I do. I can’t go a day without keeping it under control, or with great difficulties and mental anguish. In fact, I can’t go an hour without feeling it, and I bet you too. Most of us have to constantly sooth our nomophobia, at least a few times an hour.

This new thing called nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. And you guessed it, it isn’t new. It relates to being connected all the time, which hides a deeper fear of missing out, of not getting enough.

Are you smiling yet? Nomophobia is probably another society disease, and we all, more or less suffer from it, to an extent or another.

Why am I so connected?

So why is it so important to check and see if we have a message, or if someone is trying to reach us? How did we do before the era of smartphones and cell phones? Surely this is part of human evolution and a sign that we are progressing, evolving, evolution at work. But is it, really? How better off am I if I can’t leave for a full weekend wondering what will be in my mailbox, or how many voicemails will I have when I come back? Worse yet, how productive is this stress of having to keep up with my email inbox and voicemail to keep it under control for fear of having to waste an hour or two on Monday to tame back the wild beast of information overload?

Am I getting old? Have I finally arrived at the stage where life has become too complicated and modern tools are taking their toll on my well being, always demanding more and more, draining my energy, which could be better spent taking care of myself? Why can’t I use more of my time meditating, relaxing, putting things into perspective and making the “right” choices. And what are those right choices anyway? Am I stepping back, coping out? Is my energy spent and I have little more to give this futile game of keeping on top of news that are not really that transcending?

It makes you wonder when you hear one of the greatest society ailment is anxiety, lack of well-being, and now, nomophobia. Go figure. Maybe the Jedi Masters have a point using as little technology as needed, or maybe just the right amount.

Mankind Project challenges men to grow

mankind project challenges growth
mankind project challenges growth. Picture: Nicolas Zart

It’s strange to think of what we put ourselves through in life. Once we understand, we can respect the challenges and trials, and use them to truly go beyond ourselves. I was living in my heart and was told to be like a man and to live with my brains. Now that I achieved this, I am told to go back and listen to my heart.

Challenging men to grow

I just went through the biggest challenge I put myself through by completing the Mankind Project Primary Integration Training (PIT) called the Essential Man Workshop. It was the toughest thing I ever did in my lifetime. It was tough. It was so tough, I thought I would walk out many times during the event, but I hung on. I came in with a lot of hidden garbage, and while I might walk out with the same amount of garbage I carry, at least now, I am more aware of it.

Women are, men become

Men live in a society where they are taught to do it on their own. You fall, hurt, get up, suck it up and move on. Our society enforces this idiotic bravado that men must go through their trials and challenges alone, shamefully recoiling from others. Before this present chaos, men trained, leaning on their elders to help face their deepest fears so that they could face anything in life.

Buddha and Jesus didn’t do it alone

Somehow, our society decided to take the solitary road. Judging by the results in increased crime, over-populated jails, under-achieving schools and the sheer amount of suffering men try to hide behind a thin veil, we can see how this has failed dramatically. Men needs strong role models, something our society doesn’t offer anymore. We don’t have Gandhi anymore, and Martin Luther King is gone, so is Ford Senior. What we have left are Hollywood (hollow-wood) images of what a hero looks like, tragically alone, having surmounted everything on his own. That is fatally flawed. Even the greatest spiritual masters from Jesus Christ to the Buddha didn’t never did it alone.

I just begun a tough chapter of my life and I won’t hide it, I’m scared and want to run away from it. But I won’t. I now know I have many men I call my Brothers standing behind me to help me go beyond myself, my ego and BS PR I carry around, flaunting in your face. And that is a warm reassurance I wish every men had.