11 April, 2015

K.I.S.S. The Process of Keeping It Stupidly Simple

It’s no secret that I spent the last decade focused on personal development in the aftermath of my mother’s passing.  Her death triggered the surfacing of deep rooted layers of anger, resentment, and shame that I’ve accumulated throughout my then 35 years of existence.  I then pursued relentlessly my quest for a “comfortable” career in the arts and entertainment field, specifically in acting. 

From 2011 to now, the drive to pursue acting slowly dwindled.  Though I still have my agent in San Francisco, I volunteered to attend auditions for features filmed locally in the Bay Area which means the auditions are pretty non-existent.  That enabled me to focus on my job at the California Judicial Council. 

Also from 2011, specifically May of 2011, I decided to move away from the mainstream Christian theological paradigm.  I could no longer reconcile the lessons that Jesus taught to the overall “us versus them” mentality perpetuated in all the mainstream Christian churches.  Just as I was about the walk away from church life altogether and just focus on what I learned from all the personal development courses I’ve taken from 2007 to 2011, New Thought theology came to my awareness.  That alone reconciled my aforementioned issue as well as my belief in God to my personal development experience. 

So from 2011 to 2014, I became this spiritual acolyte junkie.  I invested every extra cash on every possible book or home course from every possible New Thought “guru.” 

And I got absolutely nowhere.  Not, “NOW HERE,” but “NO WHERE.”

It didn’t matter which meditation course I purchased that month or how fresh the coffee I made at Sunday church service, or which book I’m currently reading.  I got absolutely nowhere.  During my spare time, I could be found at the lounge of Philz Coffee reading my latest book on prayer, attitude, goal setting, and Universal Spiritual laws. 

And I still got nowhere.

So from 2011 to 2015 I read different books, took different courses, and supported different ministries yet got nowhere.  So perhaps what I was taking the time to learn wasn’t legit?  Or I had to cope with the fact that it simply doesn’t work.  Or I was going about this all wrong.

I’ve practiced traditional Chinese martial arts, lion and dragon dancing off and on for over 25 years.  Awhile ago my Sifu (“master” or “teacher”) was observing my practice session and pulled me aside to tell me something.

You know so many sets, but you haven't learned one move!

An explanation to the comment: a “set” or a “form” are choreographed set of movements for the martial artist. Each “set” has an emphasis on a specific technique.  Our “sets” are considered “short,” compared to other martial arts styles, meaning the typical “set” or "form" of ours has about 24-28 movements max.  Some sets from other styles have up to 108 different movements per set.  Even our “long sets” can be broken down in sections of subsets, which is like 16-24 movements per subset, placed together in sequence to create one "long set."  

It’s true, over the course of 25 years I’ve learned about 12-18 different hand and weapon forms from this organization, and at the most, I probably remember the movements of 8 forms at the max.  Even at the drop-off of quantity, that’s the least of my master’s concern.  His concern was the fact that I have yet to learn a single specific technique to the point of mastery.  By that definition of “mastery,” he means that the body parts required to perform the specific technique are developed and conditioned, (not to mentioned that my entire body should be that) that the fluidity and strength is effortless, that I can be able to naturally discover and apply 8-12 different variations from that specific technical move, and to be able to discover other supplemental movement that can proceed and follow afterwards naturally. 

So what does this have to do with my spiritual journey from 2011 to now? 

You mean you can’t see the connection here? 

I’ve taken the time to read so many books, but haven’t truly studied ONE author.  I’ve collected an extensive list of affirmations, but memorized NONE.  I’ve learned the PSI relaxation cycles, Silva Mind technique, The Children of the Light Wholeness Meditation and Blessing, Oneness Meditation, and The Quantum Jumping technique on meditation.  (Not to mention the Ch’i Kung meditation my Sifu taught me)  Yet, I don’t sit still and relax quietly for more than 12 minutes per day, if that. Side note: for those of you who are familiar with Silva or any other types of guided meditations, how can the “Mirror of the Mind,” “Case Working,” or “Workshop” be effective for us if we haven’t even learned to be consistent with the basic “relaxation cycle?” 

It wasn’t like I wasn’t familiar with this concept of taking the time to learn one thing at a time.  After all, I was pursuing acting for more than 18 years.   I’ve came across so many fellow actors who would jump from one acting class to another, one voice training program to another, one dance/movement class to another, and then they wonder why their performance wasn’t up to snuff either on set or on stage, or why they were “so heady," and not "in the moment."

And that’s the thing about certain specific well-known, recognizable actors we see on film and television: on one hand, we actors and even some public audience members would often criticize them for being too “one dimensional” or “hitting the same note over and over,” or “lacking a wide versatile acting range.”  On the flip side, who are we to criticize their work, after-all they ARE working as actors.  They've “mastered” a single move, so to speak and are being compensated accordingly.

So what was the “payoff” for being “busy” with all the materials purchased, consumed and processed from 2011 to now? 

That was it, the state of remaining “busy.”  It wasn’t the payoff of spiritual enlightenment or mastering the art of manifestation.  I mean, that’s what I told myself and that’s what I told others back then, except that results don’t lie. 

So the comment my Sifu made was taken to heart.  It was a gut check.  On top of that, about the same time he made that comment, I completed a prayer chaplain curriculum, and with this new found title as prayer chaplain, I felt simply lost. 

So I packed up all my books into a box, and took out just three books.  Two of them are in my possession at all times.  I put away all the CDs and audio downloads to simply listen to just the Silva guided relaxation or the short version Silva relaxation.  Eventually I learned to just shut my eyes, shut my mouth, sit, relax and breathe.  All I did was study one of the three books, and listened to one of the relaxation tracks on a regular basis.  In other words, I simplified things.  I’ve been practicing just one of the sets on a regular basis only. 

Slowly but surely, the results began to improve: the tax refunds, the regular work, the trip to Manila, the much improved relationship, the redone kitchen and bathroom, (that wasn't really asked for, I just put on a notepad about "getting the bathroom and kitchen working better," and I came home one day to a new shower area, toilet, fixed kitchen sink, and new stove) the speaking opportunities. 

Most importantly, I discovered myself lashing out less and becoming more comfortable in my own skin.  Yes, I still get irritated and still lash out at times, but those time period between the lashing out episodes have gotten longer and longer.  Yes, sometimes I wish I were somewhere else or even someone else, but that too is less frequent than a year, two years ago.  Even problems and/or challenges that do come up tend to lead to a solution much quicker. 

All because I went back to the basics and focused on one thing at a time, or at least fewer things at a time. 

Oh, so you want to know the three books I’ve focused on since September of last year?

That’ll be shared on my next entry…

21. "It is not whoever says to me, 'My Lord, my Lord,'
who enters the Kingdom of Heaven,
except whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven.
22. "Many will say to me on that day,
'My Lord, my Lord, did we not prophesy in your name
and in your name cast out demons
and in your name perform great powers?'
23. "And then I will declare to them that, I never knew you,
go away from me, workers of abomination.
Matthew 7:21-24 Aramaic Bible to English Version

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