The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, January 15, 2007

Oprah and other thoughts...

Read quite a few bits of praise and criticism of Oprah's school for girls in South Africa. Much of the controversy seemed to center around the supposed opulence. I just wanted to throw my two cents in. My thoughts are this:
1) its her money.
2) The woman is (financially, at least) inarguably the most successful and powerful black woman in American history. She just may know a thing or two about the mental and emotional foundations for success.
3) And success is the key word. This is specifically a school for leaders. She's not trying to create middle-class girls, or a secretarial pool. Leaders.
4) All over the world, when successful people have children, they spoil them. I suspect that, while this tendency can lead to excess, it also works in terms of creating an expectation. And that expectation drives them the rest of their lives.
5) Poverty isn't ennobling. Been there, done that. The reason we love stories of people who rise from poverty to great wealth is that they are so rare. Africa has been trying poverty for a long time. Let's try something else, shall we?
So…this morning I hit a very nice level in my meditations, and I think it was because of what I did last night going to sleep. I’m under considerable stress (moving to a new house while in crunch mode on a project. Ouch.) and three nights ago I could barely sleep. So I used a Tim Piering modification of a zen meditation technique, and with each breath repeated silently to myself “I am.”

That worked nicely, so last night I combined it with the breath and heart work I’ve been doing: heartbeat meditation at the same time that I do a subtle Be Breathed pattern (just feeling the abdominal muscles contract with each breath, and slightly pulsing the anal sphincter).

Now, when I did this at the same time as the “I am” exercise, some interesting things started happening. I found that, rather than being overwhelmed, my mind seemed to deepen, and I had additional attention left over even as my body became heavier, warmer, and unmistakably began to sink toward sleep.

So I visualized a triangle at my third eye, and concentrated the “I am” sense there. A visualization of myself, sitting in full lotus, appeared (even though I was lying down at the time) in the center of the triangle. I felt myself pulled into the triangle in the IMAGE’S head. Falling through into another “me,” each one nested in the middle of the previous one’s triangle. Strange.

And then it was like a flow, rather than a series of discrete images, and I felt the flow moving both forward from the level of my eyes, and “up” along my spine simultaneously. About this time, when I slightly contracted my anus and pelvic floor, I felt something open beneath me, and light shot up. Not the most powerful experience of this that I’ve had, but the only time its ever seemed in direct relationship to specific visualizations or efforts on my part.

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