Sound Waves

Today’s group meditation finished with our usual two dings of the “bell” (from an iPhone), except for me it was anything but usual, because I somehow experienced said bell not just as a sound, but as waves passing through the core of my body.

This meditation thing is getting kinda trippy.

Flip it Good

In today’s installment of, “We’re learning WHAT??!?” we played the chu-daiko from the other side. Same form as from our usual side, except its mirror image.

It felt fine, right up until we had to play at speed. Holy Derpy Arms!! Gonna have to practice this one at home.

Master Lock Adoption Agency

I’ve rescued and cracked yet another generic Master Combination Lock. This one took me 1 hour, 2/3 as much time as the previous lock, and only because I was lazy.

Does anyone want one or several of these? They’re not great for securing your treasure, but fairly functional for keeping honest people out, and more annoying to crack than a keyed lock is to pick.

genericMasterComboLocks++

SoMuchGoingOnEverywhereAllTheTime

Competitive meditation at work has helped me remember on the weekends to sit on my own. Today, for the first time in a while, I was able to watch my breathing without modifying it. I was surprised by how short it was. Maybe because I’d just come back from the gym and my body was still recovering.

I channeled Tuesday’s concept of time slowing down for today’s sit. It was overwhelming, all the sounds, photons, and physical sensations happening in every moment. I see now why adults filter out so much of the world, and how everyday life can be difficult for those unable to do so.

It’s interesting that I’ve transitioned from needing to create something to focus on (counting breaths in 30×11) to having too many things in the moment worthy of attention. When I quiet my mind of thoughts past and future, I find that the present is bursting with activity around me and within me.

The world is very much alive, even when everything appears still.

Elephant Adventure 41: Be on Time

This is an interesting Adventure for me: I’ve been early-to-punctual for most of my life.

The last few years, that’s turned into a 5 minute plus-minus window.

I’m not sure whether this is because most people I know operate this way, or that my crowded meeting schedule during the week has forced me to operate this way. Perhaps the accuracy of real time Google Maps traffic has factored into it as well.

Technology has also allowed for a new adaptation: Setting a ballpark time with a friend and notifying each other when we’re about ready to leave. This works really well on the weekends.

Okay, the exercise:

Consider what “being on time” means to you and to others.

Being on time means arriving 0-5 minutes before the set time. There’s one exception to this: Parties at someone’s home. On time is not an expectation (unless it’s a dinner party), and I’ll adjust my arrival time based on the group, group size, duration, and type of party.

To others: Depends on the other.

What prevents you from being on time?

Back to back meetings, because I can’t magically teleport.

What arises in your mind when you or other people are late?

When I’m late: I get really agitated, because I don’t want to be the person who is late. I consider it inconsiderate, disrespectful, and irresponsible.

When others are late: I used to get really annoyed, and sometimes I still do, but over the years I’ve come to understand that everyone views and understands time in a different way. I can’t expect everyone to see the world the way I do. I try to account for this ahead of time when I’m scheduling things with folks I know tend to run late.

I did have an instance last week when I was a couple minutes late for a presentation at work where I was the moderator. I could have arrived on time, but as presentation time approached I found myself in a conversation with a coworker about how things were going for them and for our teams. I knew I would be little late for the commitment I had made, but I decided it was more important devote those minutes to my coworker, because giving them my attention, strengthening our connection, and learning about our collective well being was more important.

When I do have the luxury of arriving before a work meeting, it gives me a chance to gather my thoughts, get into the right mindset, and begin the interaction properly composed.

One of my coworkers makes it a habit to leave meetings 10 minutes before the top of the hour. In the back of my mind I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of implementing the same thing.

The discussion section of the book stated that this was a lesson not about punctuality, but time, and how time is irrelevant relative to the present moment.

This bring me to what I do when I’m the one who has arrived and have to wait: I keep my phone in my pocket and I “sit”. I observe. It’s calming and enjoyable, and turns those “wasted” minutes into a mindful gift.

Elephant Adventure 42: Procrastination

Favorite

Upon logging into one of my accounts this morning, I was prompted to set a security question.

What is your favorite sport or activity?

I paused. The word in my head was “hockey”. Of course it was.

Of course it was, except it can’t be anymore. Because part of my ability to be okay with not playing comes from not holding on to the past. I was a hockey player. I’m no longer a hockey player. Hockey was my favorite sport. Hockey is no longer my favorite sport.

And yet, I’m unwilling to nominate a new favorite sport. I’m still processing. I’m not there yet.

I’m trying out new sports, trying out new identities.

I should have answered that question with, “Watching myself try to answer this question.”

Competitive Meditation

I’ve been attending weekly group meditation at work for the past month. I like it a lot, and I find it much easier to sit for 20 minutes surrounded by people doing the same thing.

I haven’t quite figured out whether to attribute this to peer pressure, mutual support… or my competitiveness. I have to keep sitting because I refuse to be outsat!

This sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But it’s probably true, and Mike! saw it coming.

Group meditation may be easier, but it’s not always easy. I had a lot of trouble settling and focusing at this week’s sit. With a few minutes to go, I remembered what my coworker wrote when he convened our weekly gathering:

I like meditation because it slows down time.

That was all I needed to enjoy every moment as its own universe.

There was no competition, no support, no pressure.

Just moments.

Just now.

Elephant Adventure 40: Signs of Aging

Oh goodness. Aging is everywhere. It’s inevitable. Unstoppable. I see it in everything around me, everyone in my life, and in myself.

But how do we know it’s happening? Because of change. We have to consciously make a comparison to notice what’s changed. Growth, decay, wrinkles, reflexes, reading glasses, injuries that take longer to heal. They are what they are, not signs of anything, unless compared to a prior state.

I’m actually not sure what the point of this exercise was. I had thought this book was trying to guide us toward being present in the moment, but if we’re truly in the moment, we’re not making comparisons.

Then there’s this line in the book:

At about age forty, people realize that their life is at least half over.

At first I found this kind of depressing, but when I really think about it, I think it just means I need to be conscious of every moment, because time is a limited resource.

Speaking of which…

Elephant Adventure 41: Be on Time

Shinnenkai

It’s been almost a year since I started taiko. I went from knowing nothing to learning about equipment, terminology, form, and technique.

I got to know the chu-daiko, and the various ways to strike it: don, do-ko, tsu-ku, ka-ra…

I got to shout, usually “So-re!”

I got to tap my sticks together, often over my head all showy and stuff.

From there we progressed to tossing, twirling, stepping, striking a pose, never missing a beat.

There were many blisters and bruises along the way. At one point, I smacked my fingernail so hard it turned purple and I thought it was going to fall off.

Later in the year, I was introduced to shime-daiko and its completely different technique. I felt a bit like a little monkey playing a drum.

Every year, our group has a recital at the end of January. I was excited when the drum assignments came out; I’d made the front row! At the same time, a little voice in my head yelled, “Holy crap!”

Still, I’d worked really hard to learn our two songs and execute with solid form. I’d cleared my schedule and attended almost every class. It felt good to see that practice and dedication pay off.

Last Sunday was our recital. I was part of the stage crew, and learned a ton about show logistics. I also got to watch our guests perform from backstage, something I’ve never done before. I loved it!

Both songs went well. I didn’t drop my bachi doing the fancy moves and no one noticed my couple little screwups. I’m pretty sure we all screwed up, so no big deal. Overall, our songs sounded like songs. :)

My friend Alissa was kind enough to take video, but for reasons I’m not entirely clear about I’m not supposed to share them with the internet. So here are a couple stills.

This first one’s from our chu-daiko piece, Bondaiko Midareuchi. We’re yelling “So-re!” whilst striking a pose at the start:

And this second one’s from a piece I played shime-daiko on, Agari Yatai, to close out the show:

February is going to be a slow month at class, when we go back to basics for the new students who join. I’m looking forward to it, because it’ll be a chance for me to refine my form.

So-re!