He had taken things to a new level. Quite literally.
Rising above thought, doing the impossible.
As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.
On June 11, 1963, Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức sat down in the middle of an intersection, had gasoline poured over and burned himself to death.
I didn’t plan to go out in style, but couldn’t deny the power of meditation anymore. It doesn’t just work, but does so in very powerful and life-changing ways. Real changes occurring during meditation – the ability to maintain crystal clear focus and calmness even in the face of extreme situations.
Most problems are mind-made and becoming more present to the moment became my way of tackling them.
Lunch Break At The Mall
It’s not hard to figure out what people must have thought. After all, I had sat there staring straight ahead, not even flinching once. 20 minutes – as if I were in another world.
People started looking. I was the weird guy.
Spending my lunch break in the mall had become a daily meditation practice. Comfortable sofas and away from work, I sat down in an effort to becoming more present. Not the best environment, but a challenge to my willpower.
Open-eye meditation – staring right through the entrance of a clothing store – had become my preferred style. With a bit of practice, I was able to have people walk through my field of vision without getting distracted.
This ability become more solid over time, where I would rarely feel tempted to tilt left or right. If I did, it was for some really hot piece of ass. The real challenge was looking as little psycho as possible, so that staff wouldn’t inform security and get me kicked out.
Closing my eyes – something I had never tried.
While visual distractions were never much of an issue, I had a hard time focusing on my breathing. I decided to close my eyes and focus on my body. That became easier, but also to drift off. Too easy.
In fact, I had to change things again because losing myself in thoughts became the norm.
Time to ditch the stopwatch.
I had started out using a timer for exactly 20 minutes each session. When I switched to counting breaths, focus rose to another level. Instead of sitting still for a certain period, the goal became counting to 250 breaths – while not losing count of the number. This was a great way of focusing on breathing.
Occasionally, I would even do challenges to see how far I could take things. The records is at 3,000 breaths, which must have taken me at least an hour to reach.
The Real Benefits
Whatever I was doing, it was easier and quicker to get into the flow state. Daily meditation didn’t magically solve all my problems, but it has made me significantly calmer – especially in pressure situations.
Rising above thinking and becoming aware of my own reactions happened naturally more often, but still took effort.
Once immersed in a difficult situation, it was easier dealing with it, but stepping out of my comfort zone – that first step – was just as hard. Before starting the practice, my expectation was to be able to see through the illusions of fear and anxiety, and proceed with easy.
Maybe I haven’t practiced long enough, but I certainly wasn’t even close to having these abilities.
Nowadays, I don’t move around nervously as most people do. I will sit still, breathe and experience my body. The real challenge is not cracking up when I see other people flinch or constantly shift posture.