Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Becoming Fearless

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
- Master Yoda

The words above were spoken by Master Yoda to a very young Anakin Skywalker. I think about them often when I feel negative emotions. I find that I can often trace the root of negativity to my own fear.
Fear of others-
I am by nature an introvert. To this day I struggle to make small talk, shy away from public gatherings, and feel awkward with my relationships.
I don't know if I fear the people themselves or their impressions of me. What I do know is that I've had to go to extreme measures to overcome this. I joined the drama club in high school with the purpose of fighting this fear. Thanks to the great friendships I formed there, the rewards were enough to reinforce social interaction for me.
I'm seeking to find the fear in myself for others that has been implanted by society. I look at the ridiculous paranoia that we have for our neighbors. We allow statistical anomalies to paint our communities with criminals and strangers. We grow more isolated and alienated as we retreat into ourselves. Fearing had become a way of life and it saddens me.
We fear people different than ourselves because of how they look and think. We inoculate ourselves against other points of view and keep a wall against contrary ideals.
Compassion and knowledge are pillars of the Jedi way and fear is the enemy of mental and spiritual enlightenment.

Fear of loss-
This is the most personal fear that we hold. We are hard-wired to desperately cling to possessions, the past, relationships. We resist change, though change is the natural order. We refuse to accept change by creating shields of denial and delusion.
We cannot conquer change, so it doesn't make sense to resist it. We must accept discomfort and unfamiliarity and learn to adapt. We should welcome newness and embrace the entropy.
We won't know what the end result will be, and we have to be okay with the uncertainty. This is what it means to be successful in life. Recognizing when to control and when to submit to change has to be an ingredient to happiness.

May the Force be with you!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Jedi Code

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
—The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)

I recently took up yoga to help stretch my aging joints and muscles. I had anticipated the joys of newfound flexibility and relaxation, not the pleasure derived from learning meditative strategies.
While the other yogis focus on their auras or chi, I myself find comfort in the Jedi code.
There is no emotion, there is peace. 
    I find myself releasing the emotions I've collected over the day with the opening line. Frustration, embarrassment and self-doubt melt away as I straighten my spine and elongate my neck.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
  I look within and visualize the blood pumping through my heart, out to my extremities, back through my veins towards my lungs and kidneys to be refreshed again and again. The chemical energy from am earlier meal is converted to electrical energy which travels through my nerves to end as motion energy when I move through my positions. Yoga has given me an increased awareness regarding the functions of my body and the world around me.

There is no passion, there is serenity.
  This tenet echoes the first, but with new emphasis. It allows me to reconsider the things that I take too seriously. Is that argument really important? What's the most likely outcome if x or y event really happens? What's really important?

There is no chaos, there is harmony.
  Focus on reestablishing homeostasis within myself. How do I work to maintain balance between work and home? What can I do to minimize my impact on our natural world? How do I maintain my relationships?

There is no death, there is the Force.
  I find comfort in the knowledge that when I pass, my matter and energy will recycle into the universe. My organs may help those in need. My energy will move again through the earth, and my matter will make up future humans, animals, plants and minerals.

Well, I'm off to Wednesday night yoga. May the Force be with you.