States and Stages of being are intimately connected but should never be confused as the same thing. A State of being is a temporary experience which changes perception in certain predictable ways. Drunkeness, sleep, meditation, and anger are all states of being which cause easily recognizable changes in a person’s behavior. States of being not only affect the way one perceives things but also the way one reacts to these stimuli. A happy person reacts differently than a scared person. States come and go frequently and one may experience five or ten different states of being in one day.
Stages of being are also characterized by specific changes in perception and action but these changes become permanent. Once a baby crosses the walking line they have become a toddler and they do not regress back to being a baby. An adolescent does not become as helpless as a child again without damage to the brain. The same way there are specific stages of physical growth, there are also stages of emotional, mental, and spiritual growth. The main organizing principle of stages is that they progress in a linear manner and no one gets to skip any steps although the duration of these stages may vary greatly.
A simple way to understand the relationship between these two categories is that states are an elemental aspect of consciousness itself, where as stages represent permanent changes in how one perceives these states. Higher stages always perceive more of the big picture than lower stages. A teenager understands their environment much better than a child, and a child better than a toddler, etc. Also, learning to control one’s states is one of the most efficient ways to move into a higher stage of being, which is why most spiritual traditions since time immemorial have focused on practices which create specific states of being.
Meditation is by far the most prolific of all techniques for learning to control our states of being and ultimately evolving to higher and higher stages of being. Meditation is about learning to focus and control our experience of the mind. “If we do not control the mind, we will be controlled by it.” When a person is in control of their mind it changes the quality of every experience and makes every action more potent. Meditation actively defragments the mind and resets all physiological processes back to their ground state.
My very first experience with meditation came from a Buddhist anthology I was reading for research and one particular author said, “Do not close your eyes and try to still your mind, because you can’t. Simply close your eyes and watch what happens without judgment or interference.” Even as an ADD insomniac I thought, “Well I can do that.” So I sat down, closed my eyes, and within three minutes I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “Oh my god, I am insane!”
That was six years ago and I have been meditating everyday since. Before this point in my life I had suffered chronically from insomnia, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, regular headaches, and asthma. After two weeks of daily meditation I quickly noticed that all of these problems had magically disappeared! I was sleeping like a baby, my sneezing fits vanished, I wasn’t constipated all day long and nothing made me short of breath. I had not studied mediation enough to know these types of results are common among daily practicioners so the placebo affect could not account for this. Also, there have been a few times when my daily practice has slipped under my minimum requirement of at least 30 minutes a day and the next thing I know I find myself sneezing uncontrollably or sitting on the toilet wondering what I ate.
I did not begin meditating for any esoteric goal or fanciful expectations, but simply as research for a writing project. It has been the tangible affects of this practice which have kept my discipline in place and allowed for a much higher quality of life and this inexplicable inner peace which comes with it. It all came from simple experiment of closing my eyes and watching what my mind did. And now I pass this lesson on to you…
Take three deep breaths in and out and relax the body a little more on each exhale. Now, close your eyes and simply watch what your mind does without any judgment or interference. Notice every movement, every image, every memory and then gently let them go and return to the centered awareness inside of which all of these things occur. Allow yourself to be a witness to the mind. If you find yourself getting dragged along by a thought notice it and gently bring your attention back to this centered state of present awareness. Stay in this space for at least five minutes but feel free to stay longer if you find it pleasing.
When you are ready open your eyes and notice if you feel any different than when you started. Did this experience change your state of being in any way? Does your perception of yourself feel any different in this moment? Tell me about your experience in the comment section below.
Now do your final session for this week by pressing play below and then jump into your assignment with reckless abandon! Do not let your mind create tension or obstacles, have fun with this;)
Assignment: Video Review
Now it is time to shoot yourself doing a simple sequence for review. You might have to scrub through the videos to figure out what each of these moves are, but this will help you learn the names. You will do each of these exercises on each side, then post the video to youtube or some other video portal for review. Do not forget to send me a link! Here is the sequence of exercises: 1. Seated Stall (2 min) 2. Drip Down (10 reps) 3. Sway and Switch (5 reps on each side) 4. Plank Twist (5 on each side) 5. Speed Skater (10 on each side)
Start the video by sitting in close to the camera and tell me what you have enjoyed most so far about this program and then tell me anything you have struggled with. Next tell me anything you would like to share with the BodyJuggling community at large about yourself or the practice. Then do you sequence as best you can and don’t be nervous, you can shoot it again if you need to;)
Finally write your post today about the process of shooting your video and post a link to it. Was is scary, or fun, or liberating? Did you struggle with technology? How does it feel when you watch it?
Good luck jugglers, I can’t wait to see your moves!