Rodney Owen, 3

Interview with Rodney Owen

Rodney:

The thing about breathing is typical for all forms of meditation for me. The deeper I go into the meditative state, the shallower my breathing becomes. I am sure that there is some breathing going on, else it would be difficult to function. But the sensation is that it becomes so shallow that it is imperceptible. To get to this stage of meditation one must not focus on or think about any one thing too much. Attachment is attachment, whatever the discipline.

So sitting here in my analytical world of too much thinking, it would be hard to say what really is happening in that world. But my awareness is that little or no breathing is happening. It has always been my experience that some of that "bliss" from the meditative state creeps into my analytical, everyday world. For standing meditation that is even more so because it is a healing exercise as well. It works to integrate mind-body awareness. One of the things we try to be aware of while standing is physical stress and/or Qi blockages.

These are addressed through relaxation and attention to structural alignment. It is perceptible when these stresses are relieved, when the blockages are opened. This results in a new relationship with our bodies, much like we feel after a really good night's sleep or a chiropractic alignment. This new physical feeling stays with me. But there is also an atypical sense of mind/body awareness or maybe mind/body agreement that occurs because of this experience. That sense of agreement will also break into my normal day-to-day world at unexpected moments. It is a jolt of Qi; kind of like an unexpected runner's high, without the running.

MP:

I really only have one last question, and that is due to my posing the questions have you felt that the questions have directed you "away from" or "toward" what is your own personal reason or value achieved through meditation. To whatever degree this is the case, I'd like you to relate those areas that we were not able to cover due to this. In connection with this, do you have any personal goals connected with your meditative practices that are something clear enough to share?

Rodney:

OK, I'll give this one a shot: When I first started meditating, some twenty two or so years ago I basically wanted to clear up the confusion– the confusion that sets in as soon as we leave the womb and start breathing air, and that is further stirred up as the people around us explain to us what life is and what it isn't. I am a son of the South, born and raised in the Bible belt and subjected to all the philosophy that entails. But I'm curious and an individualist. I question everything. So meditation was a tool to help understand the spiritual side of life and to break through conditioning and see the world differently. After a while I met with unexpected success.

Two decades later and I'm still seeking, but I feel I'm better grounded, not so influenced by the mass mythology. What I look for now is reassurance of that same success I experienced years ago. To use religious language I want to minimize the effect of Samsara; I want to realize the Tao; to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit; to step over into the Nagual; become one with the Universe; continue to heal my physical body and my spirit (which includes memories, conditioning, the effects of Karma, mental health, past hurts and mistakes). So, yes answering your questions has helped me to focus on my goals.

I am a writer. Writing is one of my best tools for learning. Explaining my practices helps me to put together in my head all the disparate pieces so that there is at least some method to the madness. And being a curious individualist I'm typically not satisfied with anyone else's explanations, philosophies, theologies. It seems I'm doomed to do everything my own way. And right now I consider spiritual growth to include the physical body. So Qigong is as equally important as meditation. In fact I consider it the same thing. I often just sit. But I would consider a 1-1/2 hour Taiji session to be a religious practice. My Taiji form is moving meditation. And some Qigong forms are spiritually moving in a way that I have never experienced with sitting meditation.

So, explicating standing meditation has helped me to better understand my practice. But the unexpected aspect of this interview was our discussion of Quaker practice. Perhaps because of the religious underpinning and the social taboo of discussing religion, I am generally very hesitant to discuss these things. And that is kind of odd for me, because I don't compartmentalize any of my spiritual practices. I believe the Divine is everywhere, everything is Divine. So taking out the trash is as sacramental as anything else for me. It has been reassuring for me to remind myself how important all my practices are, and the philosophies behind them.

I would say my present personal goals are non-attachment, simplicity, exceptional health, inner peace, transcendence, and the ability to share these as I attain them. I will approach these through the practices we discussed, plus listening– to others, to the Universe, to that small voice within, to wise words. I hope this last answer isn't too long and rambling. Sometimes it just keeps on coming.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to do this. This has been very rewarding for me. I hope I have been helpful to you. Feel free to reply with any follow-up, questions or concerns.

MP:

Your answer is not at all too long. Your passion is beautiful. You have got me excited about giving some of these body-oriented meditation practices a try. I wanted to point out a few things I noticed. One is the phrase you just used in reference to your writing and that is "sometimes it just keeps on coming". This is paradoxically beautiful and made me laugh. The second thing I would like to mention– and it is related to the first– is that although we are both quite passionate about the spiritual goodies on our "to do list" there are countless parables and wise sayings that insist we have all of these things now.

So my last question concerns this paradoxical problem of motive versus non-doing, passion versus acceptance, and believing we have work to do on ourselves when that work may be in truth as simple as letting go of the will and recognizing we are already where we think we want to be– that our efforts are the only thing that stand in our way. After all "sometimes is just keeps on coming".

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