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Catching the Small Fish: Meditation, Procrastination, and My Ego


I honestly thought it'd be easier to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes each sitting. After all, I was only going to do it for 30 days. How hard could that be?

Well, I've come to find out it's much harder than I thought. At least for me. I am halfway through My Thirty Days of Transcendental Meditation Challenge and I've missed one day, completely. Just skipped TM all together. Didn't forget, mind you. Just CHOSE not to do it, even when I remembered.

What I realize is that I don't want the peace of God as much as I think I do.

I mean, I do want some peace. I've done a lot to attain some peace: I've gone through the lessons of A Course in Miracles four or five times; I set up this TM challenge for myself; before this challenge, I TM-ed a few times a week; I read many of the great spiritual texts; I spent my life seeking spiritual teachers who could impart wisdom; so I know that I want something other than what this world offers me. But by the internal struggle I'm experiencing in meditating twice daily, it's clear that I don't completely want peace. More than anything, I am acutely aware of the vice grip my ego still has. It easily convinces me that sleeping in is better than meditating, even after 8 hours of sleep. I'm what it would call "a pushover."

I think the value of any spiritual discipline is not in doing it, but in realizing how much you don't want to do it. Noticing how invested you are in the world, in other people, in things, and in doing stuff to try to make you happy and fulfilled, rather than looking within.

I know why we don't meditate. The ego, our primary source of identification, dies in meditation, in stillness. And no one wants that. That's why very few people meditate. Because if "I" go away, who am I? What am I? Am I not all the things I have spent my life identifying with? And have worked hard to attain? Am I not a mother, a father, a daughter, a son, a banker, a teacher, a wife, a husband, a woman, a man...a human being? Outside of this illusion, who am I, really?

Besides all that, the only other thing I've noticed about myself after meditating 40 minutes daily, is that I'm more productive. Oh, the irony of sitting still and doing nothing each day! As opposed to David Lynch who wrote the book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, I catch small fish. I haven't yet had any big ideas in meditation, but loads of small ones come swimming by--things I need to do, people I should contact, edits I can make on my book, a type of hypnosis session to do with a client. When I come out of meditation, I am more effective in my daily life. My mind is sharper and my time more laser-focused. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of TM, likened meditation to archery. He said that the technique of shooting the arrow is in pulling back. In other words, the arrow doesn't go anywhere unless you first pull back. Meditate and act. Pull the arrow and shoot. That's how you hit the target.

So I may not have as much of the peace of God as I thought, but I do have that.

We'll see what changes occur after a month. I'm hoping by then meditation will trump sleeping in.

I'll leave you with an short video of David Lynch talking about how and why he got into TM. I have no doubt he already caught a big fish today.

 


My Thirty Days of Transcendental Meditation Challenge


Did you see "America's Most Unusual Town" on Oprah's "Next Chapter"? It's about Fairfield, Iowa, a town in which people collectively practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) twice a day. As a result, the community experiences no crime, but rather peace and robust health.

I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation when I was seven years old. My father had our family initiated into the practice. At seven, I received a "walking mantra" whereby I would repeat the mantra while walking--to school, on the playground, etc. At ten, students can then practicing sitting meditation. I assume it's too hard for kids under ten years old to sit still for twenty minutes a day.

Meditation stayed with me over the years. Teenage years saw me meditating less. As I grew older, I realized the need, value, and purpose of it in my life. I would call myself a sporadic TMer. I try to do it each week, sometimes I'm on par every day, other times meditation takes a back seat to self-hypnosis or listening to a Robert Monroe CD (another form of transcendental consciousness, much like guided hypnosis).

There are people like David Lynch who began practicing TM at the same time I did and has NOT MISSED ONE DAY of twice daily, twenty minute meditation. I am floored by his discipline. My dad has that kind of discipline. I don't. I have periodic discipline. Here is a wonderful little book David Lynch wrote on the influence of TM in his life and film-making: Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.



The only thing I take issue with is that in some ways TM has become elitist. It's expensive, about $2,000.00 to get initiated and receive a mantra.

Guru Dev, an enlightened Indian yogi, began transcendental meditation in order to bring a simple form of meditation to the masses. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the face of TM) was a university physics student in India when he heard about Guru Dev. He became a devotee. Guru Dev told Maharishi that his assignment was to bring meditation west. And so he did. That's when the Beatles got involved and it really took off.

I believe the intention of both Guru Dev and Maharishi were pure. I also believe most people involved in TM have pure intentions, but when our family got initiated, it cost us $25.00 a piece. Two thousand dollars is simply too expensive, in my opinion. As a hypnotherapist, I understand the value of charging enough so that people take their practice seriously. If I charge too little, I notice that clients are more inclined to cancel, not show up at all, "forget" to do the homework, and basically, put little effort into their healing. But there has to be a happy-medium. To be fair to TM, there are scholarship programs available, so anyone who sincerely wants to be a part of TM, can be. That's good.

The David Lynch Foundation, for instance, is teaching TM (giving scholarships to) inner city school kids, war veterans, homeless people, and those imprisoned, with great success.

After watching the Oprah special, I was inspired to up my TM practice to the twenty minute, twice-daily routine. My boyfriend Brad, also a TMer, is on board, as well. We particularly enjoy meditating together.

So I'm going to blog about my journey of the next thirty days of TM and let you know what changes I see in myself when I practice this technique regularly. I am hoping it motivates me to keep going for the rest of my life.

I'm sure the OWN network will be airing the segment again, and it's just a matter of time before they put the entire episode online, but here is a sneak peek at "America's Most Unusual Town."




Off to TM. Day 1. 

For more information on TM, the most scientifically studied form of meditation, visit. www.tm.org.


Meatless Monday Recipe: Peanut Butter Dog Treats: "Kookies."

 

Photo: Brad Klopman

Did you know that the world's oldest living dog is a vegan named Brambles? If you'd like to check out this amazing being who could teach us all a thing or two about food, both for ourselves and our pets, click here.

My previous dog, Mason, died of kidney failure, and with 20 fatty tumors plaguing his poor body. I have no doubt it was because I fed him commercialized dog food.

When I adopted Kansas he had degenerative back disease and hip dysplasia from the get-go. He walked like an old man, even as a puppy. I began researching, and found that not only was the cause a lack of proper nutrition, but the solution was also to be found in nutrition.

In fact, there were no cases of hip dysplasia in dogs before commercialized dog food, like 60 years ago. And dogs' ancestors, like wolves, do not have hip dysplasia either. Interesting, no? I wrote a blog post about it. Check it out here.

The post also contains a recipe for stew that I make Kansas each week. His diet is 75% vegan. And although I was told Kansas would not live a long life, he's going strong at 7 years old. (Update: Kansas died January 4th, 2015 from heart failure.)

As Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

Not only do I make Kansas his food, but I also make his treats. I've adapted this recipe from others and added flax seeds for extra nutrition. I've made these many times without flax seeds though. And I have yet to meet a dog who doesn't love them!

Peanut Butter Dog Kookies (K for Kansas)

1/2 cups peanut butter (I use all-natural.)

1 cup water

2 Tablespoons oil (Dogs naturally love refined coconut oil, but you can use vegetable or canola oil.)

1/8 cup ground flax seeds

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups white flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix peanut butter and water and oil, add flax seeds, then slowly add the rest of the ingredients. Knead dough.

I roll the dough out to 1/4" and use a cookie cutter. But you could also just make the dough into a long cylinder shape and slice pieces to flatten. (I mark them with a "K," because I'm ridiculous like that.)

Bake for 25 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Let cool on cookie sheet.

The flax seeds make this a bit gooey because flax seeds by nature are an egg substitute that I use in baking. I usually bake the kookies a bit longer when I use flax seeds.

The treats do go bad so I usually leave about 10 out and refrigerate the rest.

Here's Kansas eating a kookie this morning. A happy peanut butter loving dog!

 

Photo: Brad Klopman

Meatless Monday Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Photo: Brad Klopman

I thought I'd post a super easy Vegan dessert recipe. These chocolate peanut butter balls are so delicious that I had to make them twice during the holidays because they were eaten up quickly--and mostly by non-vegan friends and family.

I searched high and low for a good recipe and then tweaked it and veganized it. I added Rice Krispies for some crunch, and vanilla for a bit more flavor.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (Vegan)

Filling:

3 cups peanut butter, softened

1 cup Earth Balance "butter," softened (I like the original whipped.)

1/4 t. vanilla (can be omitted)

5 cups powdered sugar

1 cup Rice Krispies

Mix the peanut butter and Earth Balance and vanilla, and then slowly add powdered sugar. Once well blended, stir in the Rice Krispies. I get in there with my hands at this point. Roll into balls and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Refrigerate for an hour.

Coating:

1 bag vegan chocolate chips (Ghirardelli makes them. Also Whole Foods has chips that actually say, "Vegan Chocolate Chips.")

2 Tbl. vegetable shortening (There is non-hydrogenated shortening if you prefer. Adding shortening seems to make the chocolate stick better and not crack as easily. It's not a deal-breaker though. Skip it if you like.)

Melt chocolate chips and shortening together and blend well. Dip each ball in chocolate and then place on lightly greased cookie sheet. The photo above is a full dip. The next batch I made I decided to dip only half of each ball, which made them much less messy to handle. I placed the non dipped half on the cookie sheet.

You can either refrigerate these, as my boyfriend prefers, or eat them at room temperature, as I prefer. Or do as we do and put half in the fridge and leave half out.

I also decorate them by putting sprinkles on top. Man, I wish I had some right now.