WAVES

In life, it’s easy to get stuck on one chapter of your life. In the present moment, it feels like this sensation will last forever. But just like any sensation, it too shall cease to exist one day. So what do you do in moments like this? You just ride the wave.

Riding the wave is a phrase I’ve been utilizing lately to describe my own mantra of dealing with life’s difficult moments. I consider these moments waves because the velocity of the moment is minimal. The wave shall crash and all that will remain is a memory of a small moment in history. In life, I think we get hung up on these waves and believe that it defines us of our true character. Even a person who murders someone wasn’t always a murderer. People aren’t born to be murderers. Our experiences and how we perceive those experiences shape our world-life view.

Every sentient being on this planet experiences some form of trauma. The severity of it changes from person to person but overall it still impacts us in a major way. If we don’t continuously look at ourselves and reflect, then those waves could cause us to pick up unhealthy habits and personality traits that manifest us into creations we do not desire.

True reflection is important is what I’m trying to convey.
Having the conscious energy to reflect on your life and what’s happening is a key ingredient to living a dope lifestyle. Understanding the waves you’ve encountered will give you insight on how to navigate those treacherous waters the next time you encounter hardships.

May you be well and happy as you ride the waves. Metta!

Still Here :-)

Sometimes in life, you need to take a step back and notice just what life is giving you. My walk into 2018 didn’t go gracefully. While battling personal issues and figuring out my next moves, I thought it would be best to recalibrate my attention. So much of life is just trying to put your attention in different places. The most difficult part is feeling like you’re missing out on something because your attention can only be in one place at a time. The unfortunate truth is that you have to be okay with your decision regardless of the outcome.

Striving to be perfect comes at a great cost. You’ll build up resentment for yourself because you’ve fallen short of the goals that you’ve set for yourself. It’s a difficult line to walk. On one end you want to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward in your life, on the other end, you don’t want to kill yourself because you’re falling short of your goals. I wish the answer to this was universal but it’s not. It all depends on what sacrifices you’re comfortable with making. You have to give in order to receive, that’s one universal fact I’m sure of.

I wrote this post knowing that it wouldn’t be perfect. In fact, I’m not even going to edit this. Mostly because I think I needed to make this post for myself than anything else. The hope is that readers will be inspired by my writings, but cleansing my energy is at the top of my to-do list today. Hope your 2018 is off to a great start. Metta!

 

Re-Living Suffering

Suffering is an inevitable process. The mere fact that you are born means that you shall experience suffering. Before you jump to conclusions about this being a Debbie Downer post, just hear me out a bit. The Four Noble Truths teach us that suffering exists; it exists because of cravings and desires; there is a way out of this suffering, and that way is the Noble Eightfold Path. Now that you have the basics, let’s talk about some ways to reduce your suffering without vowing to be a Buddhist.

When you have an unpleasant experience. It’s just that. Unpleasant. This unpleasant experience can take one shot at you, or it can torment and plague you for infinite moments. This mode of thinking ruins any possibility of pleasant and neutral moments to enter your life. Labeling your experiences in this way takes the craving out of desiring more or less out of your life. You’re content with what is happening and not attaching value to it. Pretty simple right?

I can recall watching Dan Harris on the Minimalism documentary. Dan discussed how ruminating over missing your flight is not productive to the situation that you’re involved in. When you’ve missed your flight there is no doubt you’ll experience an unpleasant feeling. You’ll undoubtedly follow the thoughts of what that means to you in that present moment. You’ll be late for this meeting, you have to find a new flight, somebody will be upset with you. etc. etc. Having that experience once makes perfect sense. Those are natural feelings. But to keep re-living that experience when there is nothing that you can do about has no logic at all. If you keep complaining about missing your flight or it being late you’re just traumatizing yourself over and over again. So an unpleasant moment that may have only been a speed bump in your life has now become a mountain. While you’re complaining and stewing, others are enjoying this time to catch up on their favorite blogs and podcasts. They’ve taken an unfortunate event and are utilizing the time productively. So instead of taking a jab to the body, you’ve increased the impact of this blow and it’s taking you down slowly but surely.

To continue to look at problems in your life this way creates inessential stress on yourself. We already have issues. That’s inevitable. Let’s not make life harder than what it already is by wanting and craving for something to change. Actions lead to change. Sure, create a vision for yourself. Just don’t get caught up in the hype of comparison and not being happy with who you are and what you have. Understand while you’re wanting and desiring to be in someone else’s shoes, they are doing the exact same thing. So put an end to that suffering. Stop re-living nightmares. Enjoy life at this moment. Whether you are on the top of the roller coaster or at the bottom. Take in the full encounter because one day this story will be yours to tell, and it will catapult you into the person you’ve always wanted to become. I hope these words create a better understanding of how to deal with difficult situations that arise in your life. Stay blessed and encouraged on your journey. Metta. 🖤

Heir To Your Karma (NEW YEAR POST)

“It’s the quality that makes sure
you’re going to pay close attention to what you’re doing, close attention to your
intentions, close attention to the results of your actions—as in the passage where
the Buddha’s instructing Rahula, his son. Before you do something, he tells
Rahula, ask yourself, “What’s the intention here? Why am I doing this? Is it going
to be an action that leads to suffering or not?” Only if the intention looks good
should you act on it. Then, while you’re acting, you check the results of your
action. After the action is done you check again, because some results are
immediate, other results are long term. So conviction in karma focuses your intention
at the right spot and it gets you asking the right questions. Heedfulness
gives urgency to your investigation. And the two of them together lead to
discernment.”Thanissaro Bhikku

The concept of Karma has been used and misunderstood over the years. It’s simple yet complex in the same breath. Depending on your culture and upbringing, this word can mean different things to you. Most people can agree with the simple notion of what goes around comes around. And I believe that’s a great start to understanding the dynamics of karma.

I grew up with the notion that an all mighty and powerful god was in control. He was omnipotent and had all power in his hands. The key to life was to serve this god and in return, you would be blessed. Simple right? This concept works for a ton of people so there is no doubt that there is merit in it. However, for myself, it started to create some misunderstandings about power, control, and what I actually could do to change the situations in my life.

In the counseling and therapeutic world, we tend to focus on the individual. Believing that the person in the mirror holds all power to change their stars and destiny. It’s not so much of an independent, I can do everything in my own way of thinking. It’s more of you hold power in your perceptions of the world, therefore putting you in the driver seat of your actions. This concept to me is quite powerful. It’s the belief that we are the heirs to our own karma.

When you truly think about it. We don’t own much but our actions and our words. Everything else is subject to the laws of your land. Own a house? The government can take that. Own a car? The bank could take that. You see where I’m going with this? What we truly have control over is our actions. We are the heirs of our karma.

It isn’t much you can do about the karma of a past life. What you should instead focus on is the karma of your life for today. What you do in this present moment determines actions and results for later. It’s not as quick of a turnaround as most people think. Some karma takes years to unfold. With the recent #metoo movement we are seeing some of the chickens coming home to roost with unskillful actions from so-called powerful men who thought they were entitled to women’s bodies and privacy. If anything the results of that karma will aid in people understanding the importance of consent and workplace etiquette. Where women can strive to have a career without the fear of being approached by co-workers or even worse their bosses.

If you learn anything from this post is that in 2018, let’s look to discern our life with what isn’t skillful actions. What are we trying to cultivate? You can’t grow roses by planting seeds of greed, entitlement, and rudeness. Enjoy 2018 and please spread some love and kindness while you’re at it. Happy New Year! Metta. 🖤

A Year Of Growth : Loc Journey 2017

A year ago when I started growing my hair out, I didn’t realize the cultural significance it would play in my life. As you know 2016 was quite the year for most people. A significant change occurred that at first, I saw as God playing a cruel joke on me.  I got a separation from my wife of almost five years, moved into a place where I didn’t know my roommates, took on a new relationship style that I wasn’t sure would work, had my car keyed by a woman who I’m assuming is named “Vickey Fletcher” and our great nation elected a person for a political position with zero experience. So you could say things were looking quite interesting.

Around this time last year, I made the decision to just let my hair grow and to see what happens. Didn’t know what would come of it but I’ve tried growing my hair out before and was pressured by people around me to cut it back to its normal look. Traditionally I would rock the low fade because it was easy to manage. It’s not that I didn’t like the low fade, but I had been rocking it for years. I needed something to show how I wasn’t the same person I used to be anymore. Because to be honest, I wasn’t the same person. My outlook on life had totally changed. No longer was the wool pulled over my eyes. There was an awakening that was happening and I needed to express this cultural experience in a new way.

After doing some research and looking into the truth and my beliefs, I came across an old friend of mine. Bob Marley. His music continues to free me from my troubles and puts me in a trance of understanding and happiness. I began to YouTube Bob and check out some of his interviews. Within that research, I stumbled upon the Rastafarian religion. The process of letting go and allowing your body to be in a natural state hooked me. I learned in the dreadlock community, this was known as Freeform Locs. I was ready to start my journey.

As I decided to join this community, I noticed that I took baby steps in my transformation. I went with what I felt most comfortable with. At a certain length, I stopped combing my hair and started using a curl sponge to style it. The hardest part of growing my hair out was silencing some of the voices of my past. The voices would say, “men don’t have long hair” “cut that nappy stuff” “you look homeless” “act like you got some sense and cut your hair”. Those voices still pop up every once in a while but usually, I’m able to silence them because of my unwavering confidence in who I am.

So far, overcoming that has been the most difficult part about freeforming. Feeling comfortable and confident in your body is something that men and women struggle with. My biggest fear was coming off as unprofessional. That’s when I realized that professionalism isn’t necessarily determined by what you look like, but how you come off to others. Sure, a therapist with freeform locs may confuse you if you’re not used to it, but once I start talking to people they realize that I’m a professional and I have the experience needed to carry out the job. It’s about the confidence, not the style of your hair.

With that, I will end by saying this past year has had it’s highs and lows just like any other year. 2017 isn’t over but I have no regrets about my life. Everything that happened this year was meant to happen for a reason. The universe has placed wonderful people around me, even if they appear has foes and adversaries. You can learn from anyone. Even an unqualified politician. Be confident in who you are and move forward throughout your journey in life. Metta. 🖤

Validation

At what point of your career do you stop looking for validation from others? I don’t actually have a poetic answer for this one, I’m truly stuck. It appears that when you’re a newbie the one thing you look forward to is validation from someone within your craft that will encourage you to continue on with your dreams.

What does that look like for you? What’s your motivation for getting out of bed and saying “alright, let’s try this again.” That question rings in my ears from sunup to sundown. You would think the encouragement of your peers is enough, but somehow more is always needed. Imagining myself in the third person keeps my spirits up. If I were my own friend my thoughts about myself would be of encouragement. You wouldn’t chop the tree of someone you know, you would water that energy until it manifests into whatever it becomes. Currently the words to describe this feeling isn’t coming to me. I do know that without positive encouragement, dreams will die. They will crash and burn and wade around your hometown holding on to high school dreams. This has been what I have set out to avoid since I’ve left home. To live with no regrets.

Living life for yourself seems like a selfish endeavor. But tell me this, if you don’t live for you, who will? Do you wait until you’ve given up all hope? I’ve come to the conclusion that the things that once motivated me no longer serve an interest in my life. The vices that once caught my eye are merely a memory now. Can’t imagine wasting the time and energy on such meaningless tasks. It no longer matters. The clothes I wear, the car I drive, the dwelling I inhabit, all of it. It’s meaningless if I’m unable to do what I love. So far that one thing is writing and making people feel something. Getting wealthy from my pursuits would be great but it’s not important anymore. I am what I am. With the universe’s consent I hope to reach another 30 years one day. It won’t matter what cars I’ve driven or what article of clothing I’ve worn. What’s going to matter is the impact of care and love that is spread. That’s it. Everything else is just extras in the story. I look forward to the growth. Hope you are looking forward to yours. Metta.

Burning Bridges

In life you will come encounter moments where you need to figure out if a relationship is worth saving. It’s difficult to know what needs to stay and what needs to go. Some ties are much stronger than others. The history of your relationship with the individual plays a factor in deciding what’s needed at this moment. Wanting to show your loyalty to someone is of great importance in the African-American male community. But at what cost? Be mindful of the energy that you keep around you.

The most important question I always have to ask myself is “What is this relationship doing for me now?” If the relationship is one that is similar to a host/parasite, then you may want to rethink the closeness of this relationship. Someone draining your energy and not assisting in replenishing yours is a connection that needs some repairs. Or possibly you need to graciously bow out. It doesn’t have to be a nasty and dramatic break, but you should definitely send a message that your time and energy is precious, and you will not be subject to exploitation.

Just like everything in this universe, people are impermanent. That means their actions and behaviors are too. Believe it or not, humans can change. So I would encourage you to not burn the bridge, but maybe put up some road signs that ensures that your energy will be protected. Send blessings and well wishes their way, but have that same compassion for yourself. Metta.

The Issue With “ME”

I wanted to share the sutra from the Charlotte Buddhist Vihara’s meetup this past Saturday. (https://suttacentral.net/en/sn35.241) In our discussion we talked about all of the different ways one could get off track of the middle path towards enlightenment.

One that particularly stuck out was the concept of “ME” or the thinking that “I AM” above or more enlightened than others. Now, of course I’m only a novice Buddhist who relies on the teachings of Rev. Ayya Suddhamma to assist with my understanding so I do apologize if my words come off a bit confusing.

The moral of this particular passage is that we can get too caught up on the concept of self. Believing that we are “The One” or that we are special than every other sentient being in this universe. Humility plays a huge role in assuring our path towards enlightenment isn’t one that feeds the ego to the point we are unable to consult with others. This discourse was designed for monks of the holy life, but it can definitely apply to lay people such as you and I. As you continue to cultivate your dopeness, remember that there was a time when you didn’t have the knowledge that you currently have. Beware of praise because too much can push you off your path. Safe travels down your path of the river Ganges. Metta.

The Power Of Meditation

Brain scientists are only scratching the surface when it comes to how meditation affects the brain. I’ve been a meditator for a few years now and I will say that when you develop a constant practice, you’ll see benefits almost immediately. 10 minutes a day for a month is all you need to start connecting the dots.

Before my current mental health issues I could sit from 30-45 minutes. During this time of my life, everything was so clear and concise. Literally nothing bothered me. Instead of fighting the waves that came towards me, I embraced them and rode them as if I was a California surfer.

What I want you to understand is that life is going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at you. What you must do is learn how to live with it. Learn how to dodge those objects and smile as they leave. I know this isn’t one of my better posts, but considering my current state of mind, it’s not half bad. Take care of yourself and others. Metta.