My friend Nara and I went to Blue Light Floatation today to float for an hour in a sensory deprivation (float) tank. This is a large, bath tub like pool of water housed in a completely dark enclosure. The water is heated to skin temperature and has 1,000 pounds of epsom salt dissolved in it. The effect is that you float, free from touching anything other than the water, which, because of the temperature, is hard to distinguish from your skin. Your ears rest just below the water and the room is silent. It is pitch black, so there was literally no difference if my eyes were open or closed. There is nothing to smell other than a bit of ozone in the room and assuming my mouth is clean and closed, not much to taste either. They haven’t come up with a way to deprive the idea sensing organ (brain) quite yet.
Upon entering this quite nice facility (actually owner Sam Zeiger’s home) we were sat down and given a brief orientation to the facility and how to use it. Before entering the tank we showered and immediately upon exiting we showered again. Other than that, and how to turn off the light once in the tank, there wasn’t much to learn. The tank is nice in that it has very high ceilings. From what I can tell most tanks require you to climb through a door into a box about 4 feet high. This was very spacious.
Once in the room with the tank I got naked, entered the tank and laid down…….and floated, for one hour. It is an interesting feeling to be free from the senses, to feel the body relax, or not relax, as it attempts to maintain tension or posture when it is so obviously not needed. Much of my time was spent feeling and hearing my body. I could hear/feel my heart beating in my ears. I followed my breath as it moved in through my mouth, down my throat and filled up different areas of my lungs; stomach, chest, back etc.
——–Edited per Nigel’s comments to include what is below—–
The weird thing was about 10-15 minutes into the float I suddenly knew that Sam (owner/operator) knew Sylvia, the woman who ran the ayahuasca retreat in Brazil where Nara and I met. It wasn’t an idea, or a hunch, it was a knowing. When I came out of the the tank (which was virtually sound proof I remind you) Nara said “Sam knows Sylvia!”. I responded something along the lines of ‘I know, where you guys talking about it about ten minutes after I went in?’ They had been. It turns out that Sam’s shelves were full of books about consciousness expansion and psychedelics. Nara had quickly gravitated towards a book about Sekhmet, an egyptian warrior goddess whose presences she had felt while in Brazil.
What is it about drug users noticing more synchronicity in life? Terrence McKenna talks about psychedelics (and marijuana’s) ability to break down barriers that we have constructed in our mind. The idea being that we divide reality into neat little categories, subjects and objects, us and them, and assume that there is nothing arbitrary about these divisions. We assume that the dividing lines are ‘real’. That they are absolute and that there is a need to then find connections between things. The truth may be closer to the mystic idea that all is one and any attempt to create connections assumes boundaries that are simply constructs of the perspective we choose to take on a given situation.
Sure the boundaries serve us, make the world easier to navigate and understand. I wouldn’t be typing this to you without them. But should we allow room for the paradox that they also confine us? Confuse us?
Perhaps Rupert Sheldrake is on to something when he talks about morphic resonance and morphogentic fields and describes the brain as more of a radio than anything with it’s own content or shows to transmit. He postulates that information, memory, exists in a field that our body/minds can attune themselves to and we are thus informed. This fits nicely with the Buddhist notion of the brain as another sensory organ, one that senses ideas. I mentioned a meditation experience earlier where I was able to take my awareness and tune, or not tune, into the brain and it’s neurotic ramblings. Obviously (to me) awareness, consciousness, is something other than the thinking mind. It is something that is aware of the thinking mind. Is it so odd to think that there are other, more subtle means of transmitting information that consciousness is also aware of if/when we relax the artificial boundaries that we have created between what is a valid means of knowing and what is ‘metaphysical nonsense’?
Or have I just done too many drugs?
If that explanation is more comfortable to you then by all means stay closed to other possibilities, but if you are aware of information entering your awareness through means other than rational understanding of the five senses, then perhaps we should start developing other senses as well. Do you know why you are attracted to someone? Why you fall in love? Their ideas? Pheromones? Scent? (is there a difference?) Is there some other transmission of information that happens here? You can explore quantum entanglement if that’s your bent. I’d recommend mixing such things with some open minded explorations of your direct experience.
I was in a dream at an Integral Salon and we were discussing the difference between rational understanding and ‘knowing’ when these cries of “Budhha” came crashing through and woke me up. Turns out it was Talia, at all of 21 months old, screaming from the other room. I asked Candi if I was hearing her right and she said, ‘yeah, sometimes she says that’.
I’m in Boston this weekend. I drove up with my sister and brother-in-law yesterday. I dropped them off and went to David and Candi’s house to work on our music and hang out with their daughter Talia. Tonight I am going to see my parents in Ashland and then we are taking my mother out to the Top of the Hub for dinner to celebrate her retirement after over 25 years of teaching. I don’t think she’s done yet. She has much left to give in ESL (English as a Second Language)
David and I have been writing songs and preparing to record them this summer. We are going into the studio next weekend to do a preliminary acoustic recording to help us hear what the full production versions of the songs may sound like and also to hand out to other musicians we are going to invite to play on it. Our working title for the project has been Witness (no more DaVerse), but it looks like we are going to end up calling ourselves The Emergence. Here is a list of songs that we are working on/considering for the album. Some of them are working titles.
Stuck in the Middle
It is I
Torn by the Highs
Wake the Dawn
I Before Abraham
One Great Sea
Lost in Place
To die by these Kisses
dum dum beat
This past Monday John Mackey came to our NYC FLOW meeting at Susan’s home. A group of 15-20 of us sat down with John to discuss the state of conscious capitalism in the world and our potential to be the change we feel is needed.
For a while now I have been attending FLOW meetings (//www.flowidealism.org). FLOW is a group that was started by John Mackey (CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods) and innovative educator Michael Strong. FLOW’s goal is ‘liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good’. The idea here, as I understand it, is that we are changing the world with our businesses. Often times business is seen as the enemy. I would call this a short sited and potentially disastrous stance to take. At the very least this view is partial. The FLOW perspectice recognizes the impact that business has on the world as a potential for good, all that is needed is a desire to increase the degree of consciousness in our actions. Small steps are better than no steps, and the number of steps that some have already taken is heartening to say the least.
At this meeting there was a woman who is a ‘joyologist’, her Buddhist monk turned Objectivist husband, Frankie, who is starting surf camps in third world countries, Adam, the ideation guru I spoke of earlier, Amy, a music therapist, Zak, co-founder of Kripali Organics (sold at Whole Foods), educators, Integral geeks, Keith our resident Futurist and a number of other brilliant and caring people. (I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing there too)
If we are going to turn this great ship around it seems apparent to me that those with power must have our best interests at heart and also that those with our best interests at heart should have some power. I see myself as part of the well intentioned who is trying to figure out his influence on this hunk of rock. Part of what I am looking for in FLOW is inspiration through example from the people I have mentioned above, especially John.
John is a surprisingly beautiful human being. He spoke often of the need for each of us to ‘follow our heart song’ and said that he is not special other than perhaps for the fact that he is good at seeing the beauty in others. He struck me as a deeply spiritual man who truly holds the worlds best interest in his heart and mind as often as possible. He spoke briefly about thost who criticize him (and Whole Foods) for not doing enough to save the world. He said that he some times feels as if he is out in the jungle, swinging a machete, creating a road one chop at a time when from behind someone comes driving up in their SUV with the AC blasting saying ‘What? That’s it? That’s as far as the road goes?!” It reminded me of people beating up on Bono for his efforts. Sure, there’s more to do and there are things that they do wrong, but what the hell am I doing? Why aren’t people picking on me more?
John said at the end of the night that he would like to schedule his future trips to NYC around our FLOW meetings. He said quite clearly that he is not a leader of this movement (FLOW), he is a co-creator. He also made it quite clear at a number of times throughout the night that he had no interest in telling us how to create change in the world as FLOW. He seemed to have an unwavering confidence in us to be the change that any given situation calls for. I beginning to feel that way myself.