Meditation & Binaural Beats

My meditation has been very erratic recently. I’m not able to focus at all. I’ve been practicing my Tai Chi and Qi Gong very well, focusing on all the essences and additional personal corrections Sifu has been giving me. I’m able to focus quite fully during this practice, but once I sit down and assume a meditation pose, I’m unable to clear my mind at all. I’m wondering if this is related in any way to my current sleep patterns. As soon as I drift in to sleep, I begin vividly dreaming. The dreams are never lucid, but I do remember them when I wake up. The point being, that my mind seems incapable of slowing down recently. Now, I’m wondering if this has anything to do with my recent use of binaural beats to help with my insomnia. I’ve been using an app on my iPod that plays these sounds with some other form of relaxation audio in the background, like rain falling. I’ve been playing it in bed and it’s been really helping to get me relaxed enough to fall asleep. However, since I started using it, I’ve had these crazy vivid dreams and my mind has lacked mental focus. I’ve also been obsessed with music, my mind singing constantly to itself when I’m not singing out loud. I’ve been playing the piano more than usual and hearing songs in my head relating to my activities through out the day. It’s all very strange. Anyone know what that’s about?

I was under the impression that using this type of audio aid was supposed to help with getting you in to a deeper meditative state. I’ll have to do some more research on this. I’m not sure if my lack of concentration is a coincidence, or not.

Art for the dojo

First on my list of art projects, are 3 large ink paintings I’m creating for the dojo tea room. All the students get together once a year and clean/decorate the dojo. This year, as resident designer,  I was put in charge of designing the interior for the tea room. 2 students are very successful building contractors, so they were put in charge of rebuilding. We lifted the old tile from the tea room floor and are replacing it with wood. We painted the walls yellow and the doors dark red, to match the tea table we have in there, courtesy of 2 other students. We also revamped the bathroom, painting everything with the same red to match. The builders also removed the treatment room ceiling and are replacing it with new storage space with recessed lighting. It’s going to look great when it’s finished.

But I digress. I’ve been researching what to paint on the 3 parchments I’ve prepared. I’m leaning towards fancy goldfish. I had wanted to do something a little more meditative, but I think the goldfish will give a more relaxed experience, since it’s a tea room, not a mediation room. We visited the Hsi Lai Temple to get inspiration for the paintings. They have a whole gallery of beautiful chinese ink paintings and sculptures of budhas there. I really enjoy visiting. Check it out sometime if you’re ever in Southern California. It’s a marvel. It feels like you’re in China when you’re there.

I’ll post images of my artwork when it’s complete. I may also use these 3 parchments as warm ups for art I’ll create for my new dharmarama site 🙂

Chinese herbs and acupuncture

This week I bought a clay pot to cook my Chinese herbs in, as recommended by Sifu. The herbs tasted disgusting, but I think they calmed my stomach down somewhat. Grace, my acunpuncturist also gave me some herbs in pill form that she said would compliment the herbs Sifu gave me. The problem is remembering when to take them all, since they can’t be taken all at the same time.

For my birthday, which is next week, some of my friends came with me and my sister to Sifu’s aunty’s acupuncture clinic and we got acupuncture facials. It was a really good facial!….and yes, with needles. Apparently, she treats actors with acupuncture to reduce the signs of aging so they can play parts that are younger than their years. She charges a lot too. But we got family discounts since it was my birthday treat.

I’ve decided to start a website called to show and sell art, collectibles and clothes related to Buddhism, Taoism, meditation, Tai Chi and any other related spiritual item that I feel would be of interest to anyone that visits the site. So far, I’ve just registered the name, so I have loads to do. I think it will be a great place to show my fine art, since recently Chinese philosophy and Buddhism have been the major source of my inspiration.

Stay tuned for more on this subject! 🙂

I’ll will never be angry again…..I hope.

The suffering isn’t over. I spent all night last night bent over in pain, felling like I was being stabbed in the stomach repeatedly all night, until about 8am this morning, then it started to simmer down. I kept my boyfriend up all night with my moans and groans. He was so sweet and kept getting up to get me Chinese Medicated Oil to rub on my tummy, and drinks and Maalox chewables. I had been starting to feel better last night, so had cooked some pasta and fish sticks and ate them a couple of hours before going to bed. It was definitely the food that started all the pain again….now I’m scared to eat!

My boyfriend said to me, ‘See what happens when you get angry?’. He’s right. He thinks I probably had some mild food poisoning and a period coming already, but that having the anxiety/anger attack sent my immune system in to a frenzy and it was unable to control what would have ordinarily been a couple of uncomfortable cramps. I’m sure that’s pretty accurate.

Oh why do I let these things happen? !!!  I haven’t worked in days and am now really behind with some huge projects…..not to mention that the house is now a mess since I’ve been too sick to keep it up.

Hopefully I’ll learn something from this, and work a lot harder in the future to not get so wound up about stuff, and to recognize that when I’m getting anxiety, I need to stop what I’m doing and meditate instead of letting the heat and rage fester in to a tornado.

Rage & Anxiety

So, I may not have previously mentioned, that one of the reasons that I am learning Chinese Medicine and Meditation, is to clear my mind of rage and anger. I can get myself extremely worked up over nothing and make myself sick. In fact, I did exactly this, this weekend.

I got myself completely worked up over a stupid piece of software that I’m having technical difficulties with, until I blew up about it, throwing my keyboard across the room in a total rage. I made myself really sick. Either that, or it was an utter coincidence that I got a terrible case of food poisoning right after I had this rage attack. I started vomiting violently, got terrible diarrhea, started a period, developed whiplash and a migraine, and the chills all at once. I felt awful! I spent all day yesterday in and out of bed, feeling dizzy and aching all over. Today, I’m feeling somewhat better, though weak and still dizzy. I’m booked in to spend a few hours with Grace, my acupuncturist this afternoon to try and fix it so I can get on with my week. I’m pretty convinced I did this to myself and that if I were better able to control my anger, I wouldn’t have had to go through all this. I definitely need to meditate more! I can’t quite believe just how sick I made myself.

Nothingness….amongst other things

Monday was my first time teaching a Kick Boxing class in years. Of course, there was no need to have been stressed about it after all… we didn’t already know this, right? It felt good to be teaching again, but I kicked my own butt, as well as every one else’s, since I’m so out of shape. So today, Wednesday, I have 2 day delayed onset of muscle soreness in my butt and calves. I have to teach it again tonight, so hopefully I’ll get through it.

More importantly, during meditation yesterday I had an interesting experience. I felt encouraged that it was a good thing. Usually when I meditate, I try and clear all my thoughts and focus on my breathe…..but the reality is that I spend the whole time trying to ignore all the thoughts that try to manifest, while sometimes paying attention to my breathes. I can count a full 108 breathes up and back down to 1 this way…..with thoughts swimming in to consciousness and my mind trying to ignore them constantly. I’ve also tended to meditate more successfully when there’s lots of outer stimuli. Like on a bumpy airplane decent for landing, opposed to in my tranquil garden where it’s quiet and calming….I talked to Sifu about this and she said it’s because I’m used to multi-tasking my mind and asking it to do just one thing is really hard for it… when there are multiple stimuli trying to get in, my mind finds it easier to work on blocking them out. When it’s quiet and peaceful, my mind relaxes more, and then all the thoughts come pouring in.

Yesterday was like a light bulb for me I think. I actually figured out how to ‘notice’ my breathe instead of just count my breathe…. and what happened next was really cool. When I actually noticed my breathe, I was able to finally clear my mind for a moment and think about nothing. However, I must stress that this happened for maybe 3 seconds….but it happened none the less and I can now work on building it.

Happy Chinese New Year!

It is now 10 minutes in to Valentine’s Day and the start of Chinese New Year celebrations! Yay! We had a party at our dojo with Lion Dancing and demo team performances. I took photos. …since I’ve turned in to the resident photographer, though I’m really quite a terrible photographer.

Sifu is making me teach Kick Boxing at the dojo twice a week starting next week. I had thought I’d be teaching it in the summer, after spending a couple of months preparing, since it’s been a couple of years since I last taught. But didn’t realize the ‘summer’ schedule started next week, and now I’m obliged. I’m quite stressed about it, since I’m in terrible shape and am a white belt at the Kung Fu dojo….. I am however a pretty experienced kick boxer and very good exercise instructor, so she’s  having me do it based on those merits. Regardless, I’m a perfectionist and not being in my best shape when I teach is stressing me out. I’m trying to relax about it. No one else is in great shape and I’ll be getting them fit at the same time as working on myself… it should in theory all be fine.

The dilemma of comfort

How much is too much? We work to make money to provide for ourselves….and some of us lucky ones, like my boyfriend and I, get to do something that we love and enjoy doing every day for a living. We don’t make millions, we make enough to live very comfortably provided we aren’t silly with our income. We have an above average home, but it’s at the expense of having  below average vehicles, and we’re happy with that. We don’t want for anything really and I feel very fortunate for that, especially right now. However, my Sifu doesn’t seem happy with us. She doesn’t like that we spend so much on our home which is also our office, but not our car for some reason. She thinks it should be nothing for me to drop an extra $60/month for Hula classes, and doesn’t understand why I have to think about that extra commitment before agreeing to it. She called me selfish for not wanting to pay that much. I don’t understand why she is questioning why I have to ‘save’ for a new vehicle, and not just go buy a new one when I need it. I’m really confused about this. I think maybe she thinks we have more money than we do. I don’t know. Maybe she wants us to spend everything we have. She once told me that we could live off $2K a month in Los Angeles quite comfortably. I really can’t see how that’s possible when between Kung Fu, Hoola and Belly-dancing, I would be forking out several hundred a month alone. Yes, it’s possible, but I’d have to be ‘selfish’ and not pay for any classes at all in that case.

All I know is, I’m trying hard to build my company because I feel strongly about how important my work is to kids’ education, and I try hard to keep my financial situation in the black, not committing to extra expenses if I can’t afford them, saving for things I want instead of buying them on credit, and always paying my bills on time. With these practices, we’ve come a long way between us, and not being stressed out about how we’re going to pay the bills each month really helps us focus on other things… meditating. Now I realize that meditation is supposed to help you not get stressed out about this kind of stuff, and that if I were enlightened, I wouldn’t even be stressed about it at all….however, I’m just starting out and it’s just not that easy to do. You can’t just drop all your concerns and replace them with contemplations of a higher level. I wish it were that simple. If it were, I would think none of us would need to practice at all…we’d all just be enlightened.

I subscribed to Shambhala Sun recently, and it’s come to my attention that ‘Buddhists’ in America appear to be quite wealthy…at least those subscribing to this magazine. The articles are about successful Buddhists in executive positions, directors, writers and successful artists..all making a lot of money. Even millionaires at Google, setting up mediation classes at work. Companies like TED cater for way above average income individuals who can afford the $6K entry fee to experience lectures and presentations on how other similarly wealthy individuals are finding great new ways to do amazing things technologically, artistically and best of all, altruistically. These people are making a lot of money, but they take it and do wonderful things with it. They help develop syringes that break after one use so that children in India don’t get infected with HIV from reused needles in hospitals. …something that is a common practice…..and there’s so many other projects they come up with that are just amazing.

I don’t want to lose sight of what I could do if I continue building my business to become financially independent. I’m hoping that this doesn’t make me selfish. That it doesn’t mean I have an attachment that is not healthy. I want to be able to help more than just a couple of people in my life, in some way or another. When I see people at TED, it inspires me to think of ways that I can contribute to the well-being of thousands that need help. I haven’t come up with anything ground breaking as of yet, but I think eventually I will figure something out.

But for now, I’m still confused about what my Sifu expects of me at the moment.

The Galileo Project & Dependent Arising

Last night I went with my boyfriend to see ‘The Galileo Project’, a night of Baroque music played on strings, harpsichord and lute, by a Canadian orchestra called Tafelmusic. The night included an actor/narrator who chronicled the discovery in Baroque times that the earth, as well as other planets did in fact revolve around the sun, and consequently how that meant that Earth was not the center of the universe. He recited letters from Galileo describing his excitement about his discovery and also about his life imprisonment for this discovery, since it was heretic.

We’ve been studying Dependent Arising at Kung Fu of late and this seems so relevant here, though I’m not sure I can eloquently describe my meaning. These early astronomers and scientists discovered that we are more connected than anyone had ever anticipated. That our universe is an intricate dance of planets, constellations and much much more, that all relate to one another. Dependent Arising teaches this same principal. That everything is one. That we are all connected. That everything we do has cause and effect. It’s a spiritual concept, but it has scientific basis. The more I study these philosophies, the closer they seem to get to science. Or should I say it another way? Science appears to be discovering new theories that seem to mirror these philosophies. I find that fascinating. But I still don’t know what it all really means in the end.