Care of The Soul: A Recipe

I’ve been blessed, but this is gifted: I gave it to myself.

It’s a simple recipe, centuries old – timeless really:

I am on a blanket, under the stars, with a candlelit lantern, and a cup of homemade chai tea.

Mexican Blanket: $20.00
Chai Tea: $0.35
Stanley insulated thermos: $30.00
Lantern & candle: $4.50 (flea mkt)

Inner Peace: Priceless.

This is what life is about. Inner peace.

Inner peace is not something you are blessed with (I tried that recipe the first thirty years of my life). No, inner peace is a gift, it’s something you give yourself. And you must; it’s your G-d given right to be happy.

Do you think hapiness something other than inner peace? Pity you if you do, for I’ve already tried that recipe too.

On this blanket, writing this, the breeze playing with my face; I could do this everynight, and I practically do.

I’m grateful to Thomas Moore for connecting a lot of Jungian dots for me. His book, Care of The Soul, has been a great asset in my life. Prior, I had made progress towards consciously caring for my soul, but after his book found me, caring for my soul became my paramount duty. A duty that has given me deep and lasting fulfillment. As a matter of chance, I also happened to read Walden at the same time, which only added to my understanding of Moore’s work. Thoreau certainly cared for his soul with the dedication of a true master.

I am far from Walden Pond, but my view shares a watery reflection. And here, following Thoreau, I experience the simple beauty of life. (Although he might pass on the extravagance of my stevia sweeted tea).

This is how life is meant to be lived: simply and naturally. It is insane we confine ourselves within doors so resolutely. Those crazy misanthropes: the Eustace Conways, the Christopher McCandlesses; the Thoreaus, they are the normal ones. It’s the rest of the world, in their walled in castles; they are the very form of crazy, neurotic, anti-social type that they deem an outcast.

The outcast is merely a shadow figure, someone to pile the the scorn of their buried envy on. Don’t believe me? Buy a blanket, brew some tea, go drink it out of doors on a starry night and tell me otherwise. This is living.

Only, we’ve been sold a house with a living-room full of nice furniture so we can deposit ourselves repeatedly to stare into an electronic box until we die.

The American dream: sitting in your castle watching your box. I’m laughing but, I tell you, this stuff is stranger than fiction.

Yes, I am happy. And sure, I live in a box too. But mine is near the sea, my backyard the very form of nature and the place I deposit myself to stare out and look at the real world. Here I peacefully contemplate life, occassionally looking down into the box phone, I now type this on.

What amazes me, however, is that I’m the only one out here doing this. This despite the fact that behind me, thousands of residents in tall condominium buildings live, none ever opting for an evening spent in fresh air.

Not to say they never get out, but for me, I pretty much have to. It’s my black rock.

In the distance, the bleating siren of an ambulance reminds me that I’ll be living in LA again soon, apart from nature I enjoy at present.

It’s this bittersweet note that prompts me to walk home. On the way I see my neighbors having drinks with their friends in a house so brightly lit that I am disturbed by it’s synthetic luster.

Back in my castle, I lie in bed, the glow of my salt lamp maintaining some semblance of the organic, which I value so deeply.

Returning to my thoughts on LA, I am coming to see that I will need to find a place with either a rooftop terrace or a yard, for sitting on a blanket in LA, outdoors at ground level, is not reccomended. I love the city of angels for many reasons – it’s natural wonders aren’t among them. Sure there is Runyon and Santa Monica’s beaches, but neither offer me the sanctuary I have now; however, I do intend to recreate this sanctum using the recipe above. After all, this blanket is going to last for a long, long time.

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Some Thoughts on Writing, Hiding Behind Poems, and a Poem on Modern Love

At the end of this entry is poem I worked on last night and today, and as the poem’s opening line states, it was not an easy poem – but beyond that I don’t I think it’s a particularly great poem; however, there is some substance there; although, it certainly lacks a consistent tone or style – but despite that, there are lines I really like – but the poem as a whole doesn’t quite achieve the proper balance of style and substance.

But it’s a poem I had to write, because it encapsulates a feeling that’s been turning over in my soul lately, and as I’ve admitted before, poets only write poetry when they are upset – and often I use poetry as a medium for my writing because in a poem I can say things that I don’t feel safe to admit in prose, because I feel like a poem is a safe place to bare your soul for a couple of minutes while the rest of the world pays no attention. 

Poetry just feels overall much less declarative than prose to me, and perhaps it’s because poetry masks egocentricity under the guise of art, or at least it gives the reader the impression that the feelings being communicated are more important than the ideas beneath them.

Perhaps the very nature of poetry as a creative medium, rather than a communicative one, allows for greater empathy toward the writer because it bares some soul and some vulnerability that isn’t obvious in an essay or article format. There’s some inherent asking of forgiveness from the reader that a poet asks simply in sharing his poetry, as if to say – this is a part of me that I fashioned into verse to help myself make sense of this piece of my life – and I think others might profit something from it, either way – here it is, I hope you enjoy it.

Whereas, the writer who takes the liberties and freedom of prose seems more self-important, as if he is saying, I’ve written something here that reveals my own (worthy) ideas about this topic, which the title of is but a tiny promise to you [the reader] that what I have written will enable you to understand this subject much better than you previously did.

And of course the influence of advertising and the impact of the internet as a whole has greatly diluted the perceived value of the written word in the eyes of readers. Content farms and linkbait factories are driven by data with the singular mission of aggregating more eyeballs; clicks and impressions lead to dollars, so even once great publications like Esquire magazine have started pumping out 5-10 clicky titles a day in an effort to win eyeballs online.

Note: If you see any ads here on 7Saturdays it’s because I choose to host this for free on wordpress.com so that this content will remain online long after my death, so any ad revenue from this goes straight to the awesome folks at wordpress. And as an additional aside, it is possible to purchase a yearly upgrade to remove the ads completely.

Being that I’m driven only by my own love for the craft rather than the desire for revenue, I’ve had the wonderful freedom of being able to write whatever I want, and I’ve always written what I felt I needed to write for my own soul – and as such, this blog has been a living record of my inner world, rather than a tool for me to progress within the outer world; however, as I grow older and my writing becomes more paramount to my existence, my desire to write for the benefit of others is becoming equal in importance to my desire to write for my own pleasure.

So what does this mean?

Well, I want to continue writing here, but I want to be more brave about it. Meaning, if I feel something like ‘Hey, I think it’s really messed up that we as a society think it’s normal to discard our ex lovers with zero regard for their wellbeing’ then I want to write about it, rather than burying those feelings in a poem – if in fact I think that prose will allow me to do a better job of conveying what I am trying to say.

By my own admission I’m a much better wordsmith given the freedom to write without rhythm or rhyme, which isn’t to say that I haven’t written some poems I think are great and are perfectly communicated in verse, but as an artist and as a human being I want to evolve and grow beyond the confines of my comfort zone. So perhaps it’s time I start writing as bravely in prose as I have in poetry; although, that’s a scary thought.

So, expect more color here. I’ll still be writing on psychology and philosophy as those are passions of mine, but I think I need to be as brave in my writing as I have been in the other areas of my life.

Tonight I had gone to the store and assumed I would come home and after dinner I would work on this poem and complete it, but as I walked around the aisles of the store it dawned on me that I was using poetic verse as a protective facade to wrap up raw feelings in a pretty package, and maybe I was afraid of admitting these things outright.

So I came home and wrote the above to preface the ugly version of this poem. It’s ugly because it’s not really finished, but I don’t think it could be any other way. It’s the way I feel, and it’s not pretty, but it’s real.

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I’m Not Built Like That / That’s Just The Way it is

This poem isn’t easy
But I’ve got words to say

She’s found eternal sunshine –
Apparently, self-preservation means disowning love without reservations
And that’s just the way it is

Though we parted long ago,
A part of me knows our love is a big part of all I’ll ever know
And I wasn’t built for letting go –
So I think it’s time I let the world know –

This is me
At twenty-nine,
On a chaise –
Alone and alone

Once upon a time I was less angry – my heart was less complex
You see –
I grieve for things that were once dreams,
So don’t think I can just look for what’s next

It’s obvious I wasn’t made for modern romance
Giving love then taking it back,
Turning apart to never look back
Simply because society says ‘the past is the past’

So we spend a thousand nights together and then say,
‘sorry I don’t feel that same way’

You see,
The three words I gave thee were a gift – not a loan
And in my hand still exists a place for yours that feels like home
I feel it now
But hope sinks as I write this poem –
Because inside I know
Nothing can help,
Not even making these feelings known

You see,
She doesn’t love me like that:
“We’re broken up”
“You need to move on”
“This isn’t normal”
And –
“Please – just leave me alone”

Icy, frigid, freezing Arctic heart –
I never saw your polar nature on warm, long afternoons in the park
But I’m still here and I’m haunted by the burns from that once bright spark

You see,
I will die loving you
And maybe they’ll say I was born broken from the start,
That I should have just moved on and forgotten,
Made a brand new start
But they’ll never know
Because they don’t have my heart

Still am and always will be the goodhearted idealist,
But the truth is,
I really don’t want to feel this
So I’m asking myself:

How many more times can I survive the character assassination of a breakup?
How many more cherished remembrances of the past am I cast off, jettison, and set adrift?

Each time I come across one it feels bittersweet like finding a board-game-piece beneath the family sofa on moving day –
You stare at it for a moment and look back on a dear memory as you’re served a painful reminder of just how sad it is to say that you don’t know that person today

That’s the pain of knowing you can never go back to that place
And if you do return,
It will be alone –
Face it –
You have to face the past on your own –

I have a hard time accepting accepting
To know that certain pieces of me will be marooned in my own skull for eternity
You see – there are no other houses for these memories – just mine and her mind
And it pains me to know they will never come back home with us again –
But somehow – she doesn’t seem to mind

And I both admire and detest her for that
But I could never look back solely in anger –
I’m just not built like that

I could never disown someone I loved
No matter what

You see,
Though my heart is rich and heavy with the patina of grief and pain –
I just don’t know how much more loving it can actually sustain

I can’t bear the weight of it all –
I fear that the sound of the echoes will grow too loud and my heart will feel too small
I can’t carry any more torches in the night
So if you love me don’t expect me to be your white knight

I’m not built like that anymore

I can’t go to that place without facing the truth,
The truth that the wrong love could be the end of me
And maybe it’s time to decide in advance that the next love doesn’t deserve all of me
Will she even deserve the real me?

Because the real me is offering a forever home
And the real me would go into battle to return to that place we used to know
But there is one thing I know

You see,
It’s time to hold my cards close,
And to be the king of my own heart
And if I give my love again, it will be the final start

I loved you once
I love you still
My love is real
My love is real

And that’s just the way it is

My Budding Romance with Meditation

Meditation has recently become a central part of my existence, and I’m in love.

I started writing about it in Transcendental Realizations and as a follow-up entry I published A Cocktail for The Soul, which encompassed simple instructions for my current favorite meditation technique.

Using the same technique detailed in the latter entry, I’ve enjoyed truly phenomenal experiences. Some of which I am not brave enough to detail – but needless to say, they have been mind blowing.

Having an experience where you can access something that feels like a higher consciousness is akin to losing your mental virginity. And truth be told, I didn’t expect that; however, I did do a lot of research and I entered into it very well prepared.

Prior to this year, my ‘meditation / transcendence’ experience was comprised primarily of the following:

In no particular order of importance:

  • The rare Yoga session where I felt a breakthrough.
  • The rare introspective walk with the right combination of sunset, solitude, and moving music (I recently wept watching the sunset while listening to this mix.)
  • Using my Heartmath Institute Inner Balance Sensor to meditate using the quick coherence technique. (This “taught” me how to breath and get into coherence and has been wonderful. I still use it when I meditate, but when using the aforementioned “Soul Cocktail” technique I don’t follow the breath pacer and use it primarily to gauge the quality of my heart / breath balance.) Wonderful gift / great purchase by the way, and you can also practice heart coherence techniques without the sensor but it really helps. Here’s a great video on coherence that got me into this.
  • The rare sensual embrace which love lent a certain spiritual quality to.  (Can’t give you any advice here – but I expect heart coherence has something to do with it.)
  • The rare night looking up into the dark above my bed and getting deep into the right balance of thinking and feeling. (This is kind of hard to explain, but I would describe it as the combination of gratitude and wonder.)
  • The rare kind of workout that gives you an almost spiritual endorphin high.

However the problem for me with each of these transcendent experiences is that I could not easily recreate them each time – hence why they were ‘rare’. Often a walk is just a walk…etc.

I’m expecting that as I continue to grow spiritually the frequency with which those activities are peak experiences for me will improve. I’ve already started to notice this – for instance: when I wept watching the sunset I had meditated for two hours that afternoon. I’m also expecting that as I grow more and become more attuned to myself and educated about things like heart coherence, I’ll be able to better understand the exact physical, mental, and spiritual factors that influence peak experience and thus be able to get into those states with more frequency and ease. So, I would summarize these two statements in saying that as I become more practiced and knowledgeable I’ll become more capable of these transient moments of self-actualization. Unfortunately, since having a peak experience with the above listed activities can be a hit or a miss, I’m not doing them with the same frequency I would be if they were transcendent / peak experiences each time.

I’m a big believer that we do things in order to change our emotional states; we are naturally inclined to pursue ways of changing our state. The downside is that many of us never learn healthy and empowering ways of accomplishing this and as a result we end up using things like television, food, sex, and alcohol to change the way we feel. When those things become so central to our coping in life that we become addicted to them – even something like sex or working out can be unhealthy.

For people who don’t pursue powerful and healthy ways of changing their emotional state, their peak experiences are extremely rare. They may happen while traveling or sometimes they even happen incidentally and we don’t even realize what it was – we were just watching the sunset when this powerful sense of awe overcame us.

Some people are on a pursuit of peak experience and they don’t even realize exactly what it is they are chasing – these are the people who describe themselves as “adventurers” or “adrenaline junkies”. I’m inclined to go so far as to include self described “hopeless romantics”, or people with “a sense of wanderlust” (I have personal experience with both). Side-note: people often say they suffer from wanderlust – I think people should start saying “I suffer from being a hopeless romantic”. (<- this entire paragraph is a piece of shit structurally and grammatically – but I don’t feel like rewriting it.)

In hindsight, I feel that my wanderlust and hopeless romanticism both stemmed from emotional needs relating to peak experience. Once you’ve transcended everyday consciousness in an Oxytocin releasing way, it’s hard to go back. And while both my wanderlust and my hopeless romanticism helped me to create myself they never helped me to find myself.

As digital nomad Mark Manson puts it:

They say that people who suffer from wanderlust are in a perpetual state of either looking for something that doesn’t exist, or running from something they can never get away from. My experience tells me it’s not a question of either/or but rather a statement of both and how much.

For me my wanderlust and hopeless romanticism were attempts to alter my relationship to the world and to fundamentally change the way I felt about myself.

However the problem with both is that you’re placing the fulfillment of extremely important needs far outside of your own control. So, while there may be those moments of peak experience in a new city, or that time in the relationship that felt like a dream, you ultimately run the risk of finding yourself back in your home city or single again. Then it’s back to the emptiness and the need to continue searching. You’ll find ‘the one’ or you’ll find the ‘right city’ that ‘finally feels like home’. But in the end, no one else can save you from yourself, and wherever you go, there you are.

Were it not for the incredible meditative experiences I’ve recently had and the higher consciousness insights I’ve garnered through them, I would never have come to see any of this. I’d still feel empty and lost. Not that I don’t have my moments, but through meditative self-exploration I’ve become aware of the underlying mechanics of my conscious thinking and I’ve started doing inner work on the needs I need to fulfill for myself (internal fulfillment).

I never expected that this part of the journey (meditation) would be so powerful and enjoyable. Prior to my recent experience I viewed meditation as the kind of thing addicts (i.e., Robert Downey Jr.), zen hippies (i.e., Jeff Bridges), or overachievers did. And since my initial ideas about meditation were that you had to sit in an uncomfortable position in silence for an hour chastising yourself for every thought that entered your mind, my first attempts were forgettable to say the least.

Conversely, it’s been a life altering experience now that I am using an approach to meditation that works for me. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up. It’s been more beneficial than therapy; although, I definitely do utilize the knowledge I’ve gained in therapy in my self-inquisition and in the expansion of my self-awareness.

I must state that it wasn’t by accident that I’ve uncovered such powerful insights about myself through meditation. I’ve been doing inner work and searching for solutions to the conundrums I’ve faced in my life. I’ve realized that growth is the only way to keep up with change and it’s central to my personal philosophy that I work on growing to be the best version of myself I can be – for myself and for others. It’s not easy to stare into yourself and work on the recurring themes and stories in your life. It takes courage. But you have the courage within you, and much more to be found should you embark on the journey.

The impetus for writing this came from my experiences meditating yesterday: I meditated twice within a 24 hour period, and both instances were (damn, I can’t even find the right adjective) powerful beyond what I had expected – but equal to what I had hoped was possible. I followed my own instructions, as described in the A Cocktail For the Soul method, forming my own intent prior and commencing writing immediately after.

It was a wonderful surprise to discover that I entered into a similar (but less powerful) state as the state I was in during my Transcendental Realizations experience. As a result of this, when all was said and done, I had filled a few pages of my notebook with some fucking wonderful chicken scratch (it’s a language only I can decipher).

Based on the fact that this blog is the closest thing I have to a legacy and writing here has been central to my growth and identity, I am going to start blogging (G-d I loathe that word to describe my writing) – ahem, publishing my meditations. Not that I think myself a modern day Marcus Aurelius, but as Meditations was, these writings have also been directed solely at myself and not obscured by consciousness or ego.

I obviously am not going to behave like some stoic Sarah Jessica Parker – where I just meditate, hop on my laptop, and start blogging snarky self-advice. No. I’m going to continue doing as I’ve done and chicken scratching it after meditating, and then wait until I feel ready to revisit it – whether that’s the next day or the next week – and then I’m going to type it in an organized manner here.

If I feel that for any reason this practice is inhibiting my abilities or drawing my ego into a realm it doesn’t belong, I’m going to discontinue it immediately.

Currently there are a couple other topics I am excited to write about (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Defence Mechanisms) as well as some poetry I want to write, so things are going to continue as normal for me, but I would love nothing more than to have a long and organic relationship with this higher consciousness or soul-centered egolessness in which I am able to continue the growth and discovery that meditation has provided me with thus far. And if I can publish it too, wonderful.

I am not sure what is possible or what will be, but I am willing to go for it.