We have been to the moon,
we have charted the depths of the ocean,
and the heart of the atom,
but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves,
because that is where we sense all the contradictions flow together.
About a week ago, I took my first float down a cosmic ocean whose headwaters look like a 1000 lb Easy Bake OvenTM or a lunar escape module. They're called many things-- flotation tanks or sensory deprivation chambers, but the idea is simple-- that by spending time alone, floating in a womb-like chamber of of lukewarm saltwater, in complete darkness, deafness, and stillness, on a cold winter Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, one might come to a radical encounter with themselves, the present moment, the frailty of their beating heart, the meaning of eternity, and the scale of the universe. It could literally drive you crazy if you weren't already.
|Gravity Spa in Dayton has a cool thing going on.|
Maybe I'm pandering here-- trying to justify to my 'merican mind why spending $50 to take a cold bath is a Pareto-efficient investment of a tax refund toward preventative medicine. In fact, for me, it really was great muscle recovery. It was a fantastic stress relief. (Until it wasn't, at about the 84th minute, when my chaffed scrotum felt the volcanic burn of epsom salt and I needed to scratch my eye lid). It brought me a great camaraderie with my bro-in-law-- sipping tea, high-fiving, burrito-munching, exchanging notes, debriefing about how my anticipated roller-coaster rocket shipping of the mind was more like bumper car traffic jamming. Maybe the exercise was practical. Maybe it wasn't.
One of the spin-off insights the tank delivered was about the limited scope of our awareness and the power of our filters. I can see how the mind is like a Magic 8 Ball. Our immediate awareness capturing just a tiny sliver of ALL that's actually going on in our mind, let alone the world around us. If you've ever played with one, you know that inside the plastic ball, there is a small, buoyant icosahedron with affirmative, negative, neutral, or maddening phrases etched in the face of one of its 20 sides.
When this is what happens, IF you're really lucky, you will have an absolutely magical moment IF you can take that magic 8 ball and smash it against the wall and watch the blue dye ooze out and the plastic innards hit the floor. This is kicking the Man in the dick. It's blessed.
In Steven Pressfield's The War of Art, he tells the following story: "Someone once asked the Spartan king Leonidas to identify the supreme warrior virtue from which all others flowed. He replied: Contempt for death." As a modern rendition, I would substitute Leonidis's supreme warrior virtue with contempt for big hairy BS.
Dysfunctional magic 8 ball minds, with their stuck-in-a-rut-ness, qualify as a big hairy BS. They are not to be believed, in their limited awareness. They are to be smashed. If they cannot be smashed, perhaps they are best left on the floor and ignored like an age-inappropriate toy.
When I was in the seminary, I would "meditate" 1.5 to 4.5 hours per day. It sucked. I had the same frustrations through my 20s. I was trapped in the same old awarenesses and same old filters. I know a great many meditation teachers would disagree with me here, but I credit the physical act of running-through-the-woods-meditation with saving my life. Running, they will say, is NOT meditating. But this is a big hairy BS. This is something to kick in the dick. If it's worth its metaphysical muscle, it will not smash to pieces, but may become accessible once I grow up a bit more.
You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility,
because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you
is your own understanding.
- Terence McKenna