The Wandering Monk

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What isn’t Meditation?

In martial arts, among many things, we learn that the philosophy of what we learn is all around us.  When we master ourselves, we inherently master our environment, and when we do that, the happy by-product is that we are able to defend ourselves against those who have not mastered themselves.  To that end, we learn the task of centering.  Physical centering, in that we must learn where the center of our bodies are, of balance and of our motions; of how to maintain our center even as we transition and move, fluidly and swiftly. But more than that, we learn about the centering of ourselves.

Finding your center is more than just finding where your center of gravity is.  It’s also above finding the present moment.  When we spend our time in the present moment, our once scattered focus becomes attuned to the now, and seeing the details we would normally miss becomes simple, and even automatic.  It enhances our memory, our productivity, our emotional fortitude, and sheds our regret of the past and our fear of the future.  You could spend your whole life trying to find your true center and it would not be a wasted life.

But what does that mean in practical, every day life?  Consider meditation.  When most hear this word, they think of dedicated monks in temples, chanting mantra and treasuring all life, down to the bug on the ground.  And they would not be wrong with this vision of meditation.  But consider that, at its heart, meditation is simply bringing yourself into the present moment. To that end, meditation is anything that engages you completely, extracts you from your linear, scattered thought processes, and that grounds you in the now.  

I read a book called the Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh in which he describes meditation as being something as simple as washing the dishes, so long as we remain in that moment and focus only on our dishes, not on the future, or the past; not on our day, or what we will do after the dishes, or what we have done even before we began doing those dishes.  Another book, A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation by Rod Meade Sperry, describes meditation as the centering and clearing of the mind.  It further stipulates that the phrase “I will meditate on that” is nonsensical, given the goal is to not think.  

Honestly, sometimes we do need to disconnect from the world around us for a while and push all our lingering thoughts from our minds.  Zen Buddhists call this Zazen and it’s often done by focusing on your breathing.  If you’d like to try it, simply sit in a comfortable sitting position, glance downward at the floor so as not to strain your eyes and focus all of your attention on counting each inhale and exhale, aware of every breath.  As thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them once you notice them and then gently guide your attention back to your breathing.  

This is what is taught by many Buddhist teachers.  But, let’s take a look at what we’re doing when we do this.  Are we emptying our mind?  Or are we withdrawing our awareness to a point that is within each moment, tracked by our every breath?  To me, this is as much a meditation as the dishes; you’re actively bringing yourself to this moment.

In martial arts, we do this as well.  A distracted mind misses details and goes against the flow of a fight.  A mind worrying about the future or the past is not taken by the energy of the present moment and cannot sail those waters safely.  So as we practice our martial arts, we mind our technique and our detail, our center and our stance, our philosophy and our energy, and when we practice, we are meditating.  No other distraction exists while we practice, or else if it does, we are not practicing, we are repeating.  So to find your true center in martial arts, one must find their spiritual and meditative center first.  And to find that, one must be aware of the present moment.  This is mediation.

My mother wakes up every morning and spends an amount of time sitting at her kitchen table nursing a cup of coffee.  She wakes up early so that she is alone, that she has enough time to enjoy it without worrying about her time.  During this time, she sheds her worries of the day before, her expectations of the day today, or the implications of her actions for tomorrow.  During this time, she simply drinks her coffee and enjoys it for what it is; a moment of silence in the present moment.  This is meditation.

Friends of mine are regulars at a local gym and ritually attend every morning at 5:00AM and every evening at 8:00PM.  During this time, their minds are focused on their tasks.  Further, their minds are centered on the specific action they’re performing.  To not be focused on it could mean injury at worst, or poor quality of training at least.  They are not worried about the time before or after their gym experience.  They are not worried about the machine they’ll use next or the exercise they’ll be performing.  They’re in this moment.  This is meditation.

These examples are only a few, but it brings along on a journey where we can arrive at the conclusion that anything we do can be meditation, so long as it brings us to the now, and so long as we are not distracted by the rest of our lives or our worries of the world.  And so we arrive at the title of this article, What isn’t Meditation?

All things can be meditation and all things can not be meditation.  Meditation and its existence is a word that we use to describe anytime we apply our whole self to a task.  So perhaps it isn’t an action at all, but a way of life.  

And by the way, if you took the time to read this post fully, and without distraction, then I thank you for meditating with me.  

Until next time.


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Types of World of Warcraft Players

This is a cross post from a post I did in the World of Warcraft group on Facebook, but I thought it would be worth a post here too.

Dude Players of Warcraft

1. The Dad. The dude that is cool all the time, has every achievement, plays all parts of the game well, and is usually a guild leader. He’s your pal, and he calls you bud. When you hear him on Vent, he sounds like he’s the generic dad voice.

2. The Rager. He’s the guy that gets pissed at everyone for sucking, hates the game because its not what it used to be, and is only chill or silent when things are going his way. He’s usually an awesome DPS, and won’t let you forget it, ever. He played in Vanilla but the story of what he played changes with the argument. He’s always a top pick on raid teams for DPS, but everyone else secretly hates it.

3. The Lonewolf. He’s the guy that’s in your guild and stocks the guild bank without anyone asking him to. His gear is always top notch, but he didn’t get it with the guild, he got it on his own. He’s probably a hunter. He has all the achievements but never invites anyone to get them. He might have friends, or he might just have a lot of accounts that he uses. His alts are referred to as “slaves”.

4. The Baddie. This guy is the guy that pretends to be one of the other types of players, but doesn’t quite hit the mark. His DPS isn’t really that good, he doesn’t do much for the guild other than superficial things, and he’s always the one that stands in the fire. He’s a good dude to talk to, albeit a little slow, and everyone tries to help him because of, like, the spirit of the game, or whatever.

5. The Mascot. This is the player that you’re convinced works for Blizzard. He’s got all the blizzard things from the Blizzard Store. When you say or do something, he’s the first guy to tell you about the End User License Agreement or the Code of Conduct. He has a twitter account that follows Blizzard tweets exclusively (read: religiously), so that he can tell you about the things that Blizzard told you about, that you didn’t read.

6. The Average Joe. He’s the guy that does OK DPS, on good days he’s alright. Some Boss fights are easy and some are difficult. He PVPs sometimes, but its not serious. His gear grows when he feels like. It has some achievements but, like, so what? He has some pets. He never pre-ordered anything, and has the collectors edition of nothing.

7. The Anime Enthusiast. He’s the guy that uses Japanese words in place of American words where the Japanese word would translate. Example: Kawaii. He/she also uses a ton of emotes where a period is the nose (^.^); He things cats are the greatest thing ever. His characters are named after popular names and often include “Sakura”, “Dante”, and some reference to Sailor Moon or DBZ. He can also be one of the other types of players.

8. The D-bag. He’s just around to make your life miserable. He thinks its funny, you think he should die in a car fire. You imagine he’s probably pleasant when he’s not wrapped up in being a total douche. Sometimes the nice part comes out, but its a clever ploy to raise your hopes until he ends your miserable optimism with a verbal bashing. He probably plays a rogue and thinks he’s better at it than every other rogue. He can also be one of the other types of players.

9. The Lol’er. He’s the guy that takes nothing serious, and laughs when you do. Usually a combination of the D-bag, the Anime Enthusiast, the Average Joe, or the Baddie, the Lol’er spends most of his time in Trade Chat, trolling the unsuspecting denizens of the online community. His name is probably a single word that has some vague reference to a chaotic state of mind, a position of failure, or some other obscured reference, perhaps to a phallus. Like “Affected” or “Verpa”.

10. The Old Raiding Vet. He’s the guy that has raided all the old stuff and tells you about it all the time. Sure, he isn’t up to snuff in the new content, but back in the day? He was hot shit.

11. The Vanilla player. He played in Vanilla, didn’t you hear?


Chick Players of Warcraft

1. The G.I.R.L. – This is the perceived female entity that is actually a Guy In Real Life and just wants you to get thirsty and give them stuff. Their justification? “I don’t want to stare at a DUDE’S ass all day!” Because you would, right? wink emoticon

2. The Drama Queen – She shows up in guild chat, and everyone scatters. Much like the Rager, she has a problem with everything and everyone, if they’ve ever done anything, ever, to anything, anywhere. Did you hear about how John needed that shield? It was only 5 iLvls better for him! I should’ve gotten it, it was 7 iLvls for me!

3. The Hot Chick – She’s the girl that is really good looking, plays WoW and posts 500 pictures of her on her Facebook, talkin’ about how much of a mad gamer she is. She’ll pretend-humble the accolades she gets for how good looking she is, and usually her shirts are too small and expose a lot of cleavage. She is usually a halfway decent player, but puts up the front like she’s amazing. And the thirsty dudes will confirm her every claim.

4. The Mom of 3 — She’s that girl player that was probably great at the game before she had kids. Now she’s good at keeping professions up, having a decent iLvl, and pops in to chat for a few minutes in Guild chat. When she does, she’s telling you about the Mom stuff she’s doing and how she feels about it. Every once in a while, she gets a night to raid and she lavishes it and doesn’t care about wipes, loot, DKP, or anything, because if she gets pissed she might wake the baby.

5. Free Spirit Girl – This is that hippie girl that has a lot of wolf T-shirts and thinks Eagles are majestic. She is usually awesome at being a social mediator and often raid leads that one chill group that you loved raiding with in Wrath. You’d expect her to play a Druid, but she plays, like, a Warlock or some shit.

6. Flirty Girl – You know who this is. She’s that girl that speaks in innuendo and makes you kinda think she’s hinting at stuff your man mind takes to the gutter. You probably whiteknight her or hit on her with the same undertones. But bring it up to her, and she’ll tell you all about how she doesn’t know what you mean and that she was just being herself. Damn it.

7. Hunter Chick – Like the Lonewolf, she’s that girl that’s doing all the game stuff. She don’t need no guild/man/iLvl. She’s hunting rares and going for ‘chivos. She uses all caps “LOL” and “LMAO” way more than you feel is appropriate.

8. The Stealth Girl – Shes a girl gamer whos name is some non-gender specific word, or could go either way, and that you assume is a dude. She’s a pretty decent player and she does her best in everything. She’s also that chick that gets on vent for the first time and all the other people in vent are like “Omg you’re a girl?” … And then she never logs on Vent again and /gquits (Ok, maybe not).

9. Cosplay Girl – She’s probably also an Anime Enthusiast, but she looks damn good in that corset so no one cares. She can be any type of player, but usually she’s that helpful, friendly person that, when on vent, has an unexpectedly high octave voice that translates into you simultaneously thinking she’s cute and that raiding with her might be tough to stomach if she’s yelling at you. Hopefully she doesn’t yell at you.