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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Self-Loathing, Morning Sickness, and Practical Magick

I've always had a problem with my mind. It never really stops. A buddy I used to play poker with once told me that it wasn't until he read my writing that he understood why I ramble they way I sometimes do late in a game, after the joints have burned up; "You've just got all these different ideas flying through your head all the time, all trying to get to the front at the same time." He was right, and it's an element at the root of many of my social inadequacies. Over the years, I've found different ways of managing the constant barrage of thoughts.

Music is one of my old standbys. If I'm humming a song in my head or paying intent attention to what's on the radio, it tends to dominate my thought-stream. Taking it one step further, playing music with a friend becomes an intimate experience, and whatever else is going on in the room melts into the background. Fill that room with people? I've never experienced anything more emotionally fulfilling or peaceful.

But it's a drug like any other. The moments and hours (or sometimes longer) after a show are a lot like the first few nights you spend in a suddenly empty bed. The intimate connection you felt - and more importantly felt reciprocated - to every other being in the room flickers and fades pretty quickly and the darkness on the other side is as neurotic as it is tangible.

It doesn't matter if your band just played better than you ever have before. It doesn't matter if moments ago, people were moving to every note you played, empathizing and groking, together with each other and with you in a vaguely familiar and deeply nourishing way. It doesn't even matter if at that exact moment, between two and seven girls in your immediate vicinity would potentially be willing to blow you.

The thoughts that were until moments before pushed off to the shoulder of your mental freeway are now driving double-wide semis diagonally across all four lanes of both directions with grill-mounted rocket launchers. 

And the shitty thoughts always win.

"Jesus it's hot in here..."
"I can't believe I missed that fill in the middle eight..."
"I'm hungry..."
"Nice to see that girl I like. I'm glad she came to watch me do something awesome..."
"Too bad she came with another dude and they have plans later..."
"I have to be at work in 6 hours..."
"I miss Maggie..."

It's why you hear about rockstars going backstage to mountains of blow and endless buffets of meaningless pussy. The evil shit you can usually ignore by humming a few bars of a Beta Band song is back and it will now have your undivided attention, yielding only to hedonistic overloads of Roman proportions.

The next morning is usually a bit better, but I tend to wake up in a rut anyway.

Another method I used to use, but hadn't for a while is Om Mani Padme Hum. It's a mantra of the most basic nature. It's like the skeleton key to your consciousness. Click the link to read more about the translation and interpretations if you care, but suffice to say it's sort of a way of brainwashing yourself into remembering that everything is everything and The Dude abides.

And for whatever reason this morning, I don't know if it was the oddly familiar sting of a remembered old heartbreak or the recent sleep deprivation, but Om Mani Padme Hum came up. Several minutes left on my break, I said fuck it, and off I went, "Om Mani Padme Hum Om Mani Padme Hum..."
om mani padme hum om mani padme hum ommanipadmehumommanipadmehumommanipadmehum...

A lot of us westerners get stuck on the whole mediation thing because, "I can never do it right." Our minds won't shut up. The thing we forget and have trouble with is that this is the point and it's an unbelievably gradual process. As the victim of a particularly verbose inner monologue, this was certainly one of my longtime hangups.

One of the greatest lessons this phrase eventually taught me is that one of its main lessons is that that's the lesson. It's very cyclical that way. That's the point.

As you sit there, "ommanipadmehum," the thoughts come up one by one, and the point of the whole exercise is to allow them to do so, notice that they did, and then go back to Om Mani Padme Hum.

Okay, so maybe you noticed yourself noticing that you noticed and WHATEVER OMMANIPADMEHUMOMMANIPADMEHUM but isn't that cheating just moving along? ommanipadmehumommanipadmehum

Eventually, everything that comes up just starts to fall back into Om Mani Padme Hum. Unlike the song you hum to yourself and it blocks the bad things out, Om Mani Padme Hum is more like a blank page or an endless pit into which the thoughts, both good and bad fall, and then they're gone. So it doesn't matter if they were good or bad, because they're gone. And all there is is Om Mani Padme Hum.

That just never seemed very comforting in the short run. It helped when I was at my worst, but it's never before been much for a case of The Mondays.
But then this morning I was getting out of my car and walking back to work ommanipadmehumommanipadmehum...
Boy, I'm a little stoned ommanipadmehumommanipadmehum
I wonder if my boss will notice ommanipadmehumommanipadmehum
It's been a while since I've gotten laid ommanipadmehumommanipadmehum
Stupid base brain ommanipadmehum
It's just doing its job ommanipadmehum
Really, though, I just wish I wasn't so lonely all the time ommanipadmehum
I miss Maggie ommanipadmehum
No you don't, it's been years, you just miss that feeling ommanipadmehum ommanipadmehum

But little by little, the all began to fall more and more quickly and readily into Om Mani Padme Hum

the sun is up ommanipadmehum
the clouds are nice ommanipadmehum
that guy's got a funny haircut ommanipadmehum

And about halfway from my car to the store, I started giggling, but I just kept ommanipadmehum. And it got worse, and worse, until I was sitting there on the sidewalk, doubled over, laughing hysterically at nothing at all, with absolutely no idea why...

Om Mani Padme Hum

It's been a weird day. I'm gonna go get some sleep...