Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for October, 2014


A real treat from Toyota 1

Posted on October 30, 2014 by jimparedes

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For music buffs, especially those who wish to savor really fine music that can move you to ecstacy, read below.

Toyota is once again offering a treat. No, it is not a new car model. Toyota is once again bringing the Toyota Classics music tour to their Southeast Asia stakeholders and customers as they have been doing for the past 25 years. This is concert showcasing the best of classical and contemporary orchestra music in line with its commitment to help specific charitable institutions across the region through its ticket sales.

Since 1990, Toyota has promoted classical music to support charities across Asia, hosting 175 concerts through the years.

This year, Toyota will be featuring the crème de la crème players of the Royal Opera House Orchestra of London. They are the Covent Garden Soloists, Pamela Tan Nicholson and Vasko Vassilev. And as if that wasn’t enough, extremely talented local artists/performers Bituin Escalante and Tenor Dondi Ong will be singing with them.

I have seen Bituin Escalante a few times and each time it was always been an awesome experience. And I must say that with Doni Ong and all these great foreign artists, it will be like attending a Master Class session.

If you like great movie themes and music from the likes of Phantom of the Opera, this show is NOT to be missed. I highly recommend this.

The show will be on Novemeber 6 2014, 8PM at the CCP Main Theater.

“Be part of a musical extravaganza that touches lives far beyond the stage with music that lives and moves people”

That’s quite a promise!

All proceeds go to Plan International in their efforts to rebuild schools destroyed by Yolanda.

Tickets are available through TicketWorld at 891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph/toyotaclassics/online

The song never remains the same 0

Posted on October 25, 2014 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 26, 2014 – 12:00am

I am doing a new solo album, which will include new stuff I’ve written and some songs I wrote and recorded with the APO many decades ago. It’s a strange feeling revisiting our old songs and dressing them up with new treatments and arrangements.

Raw musical creations, even if they seem bare and incomplete, are bona fide living things. As such, they should be given the proper attention, understanding, care and treatment so that they can blossom into what they can become. I therefore toss a song around in my head for a while, play it on guitar over and over, before I can begin to find the best approach and interpretation and start recording it.

But what about the old songs? In our youth, we were perhaps much too excited to write and share our songs with our fans, or too inexperienced, so we made decisions quickly and recorded them without much thought. Today, decades later, I listen to them and I see how they could be improved, reinterpreted, rearranged and re-delivered. Or maybe it’s just that everything really seems less than perfect in hindsight.

I am redoing three songs in English that I wrote many years ago. As with many songs in English I wrote in the past, I now sense some triteness and vagueness in the lyrics. I am more eloquent in Pilipino now when it comes to songwriting, so I chose to rewrite two of them in Pilipino.

In doing so, I felt new life breathing into the songs as if they had reincarnated into whole new works. It also helped that they were reworked, musically.

Revisiting anything — a place, a piece of work, an experience, or even old relationships — can bring out a lot of feelings. Whether what you revisit was a happy experience or not, you are bound to learn something about yourself and about life.

In my case, going back to something I have already left behind or even outgrown, gives me an idea of how much I have grown and moved on. I also see how much of me has hardly changed.

When I revisit an old neighborhood, memories of my youth come rushing back. Once, my siblings and I went to visit the house we grew up in which is now owned by another family. We rang the doorbell and asked if we could go inside the house. The present owners, who were aware that we were the builders and first owners of the property, readily obliged.

A tsunami of memories hit all of us. I could recall specific feelings I had as a young boy when I entered the different rooms, the kitchen, the garden, and the little corners where I used to play and hide stuff. It all came back and it was real.

But after a while, when I got my bearings back and returned to the present, I realized how much smaller the house actually is, compared to how I experienced it when I was a boy.

Some people I know who, by complete chance, have run into their old girlfriends again, told me how surprised they were at how much they could still connect as they did when they were still together and in love. Often, the feeling was mutual. But after some conversation, the feeling began to vanish when they realized that what they actually missed was their youth and how simple life was then.

A woman once told me that she just had to see her old flame of many years past one last time before she accepted her current boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Some may say that she was courting temptation, but to rephrase something I heard in an episode of Sex in the City, the past is like an anchor you must cut loose from so you can move on and become who you can be.

Some memories are meant to fade away. But some places, experiences and memories can be revisited and given a fresh meaning altogether. As adults, we can experience them again, but with the wisdom, experience and compassion of mature grownups.

I once attended a workshop called “Reparenting the Child Within,” which helps participants work out their childhood traumas and issues by revisiting them. But you may ask, why should we even revisit old traumas? Shouldn’t we just leave them in the past and move on?

Some traumas we experience as children continue to hurt us, even as grownups. When we went through them as kids, they may have been too painful to understand then and so we never gave them any names, much less processed them. We merely hid them by burying them inside us, hoping we would never have to deal with them ever again.

But when the painful emotions we experienced are not processed, they keep coming back and hurting us and the people we love. The RCW workshop guides you as you revisit the feelings and emotions you felt as a child, and learn to teach the adult in you to process them and finally let them go. It is a very powerful experience. You feel your pain being released and you can finally move on.

In the case of songs I have written, I have learned to know when I should give them new interpretations or just leave them alone as we recorded them then. If a song was a big hit and still continues to connect to my audience even after many decades, more often than not, I leave it as it is.

Paul McCartney once explained that he never changes the arrangements of the songs he recorded in the past when he sings them in concert. He said people want to hear them in their original form just as they remember them, and it gets them to sing along more.

I hold a slightly different view. I like to rearrange some of my songs sometimes to hopefully delight and surprise my audience and, yes, myself. I want to take the songs, the audience and myself to a new fresh place.

I have continued to grow through the years, and I want my songs to grow with me as well.

She’s home 2

Posted on October 18, 2014 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2014 – 12:00am

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Illustration by REY RIVERA

After three and a half months of being in Sydney, Lydia came home today, breaking the dullness of my solitary existence.

I must confess that in many ways, I had kind of gotten used to living in our new house by myself. We moved in just four months ago and she had to leave for Sydney after just a few days. Except for the maids who cook my meals and tidy up the bed and clean and the few visitors who come here, I am very much alone here.

It can take a few weeks but one can get used to it.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. We have been separated on a few occasions living in different places. But this one lasted almost four months — one of our longest breaks.

Living alone can be fun. You are the undisputed boss. You take charge of the entire house and you can pretty much get your way all the time. You have your quiet time and you can do as you please — exercise, read a book, go online, or go out. You don’t have to plan on scheduling the use of the car. You can also watch a movie, eat out anytime without having to ask if your partner feels like it.

On the other hand, living alone can get pretty lonely, too. Eating three meals a day alone for weeks can get depressing. There is no one to share any conversation with. One tends to hurry eating. You only eat for sustenance and because your body tells you it is time to. Sometimes, it feels like a chore.

The loneliness can really get to me. I end up cocooned in my room with Facebook, Twitter and other social media as company. Sometimes, I even just end up staying in bed without being online and just reading a book.

Loneliness can become inertia, too. Inertia is some sort of closing in, or turning out the lights on one’s life, figuratively speaking. Things I enjoy, such as going to the gym or exercise, can suddenly seem like a chore. And even when you know you will feel better once you exercise, you still can’t seem to get yourself to do it. Inertia is the downsizing of one’s life’s source. Too much of it can lead to depression.

I also hardly listen to music. It can seem too disruptive or engaging. I just like to be alone doing nothing.

It takes great effort to fight off the tendency to just lie in bed and vegetate. I can feel like my world and life has shrunk into my room. Luckily, my sister Lory who lives nearby calls me from time to time to ask how I am, or invites me out for lunch or dinner.

When Lydia and I had dinner a while ago after months of being separated, the beautiful but lonely kitchen sparkled with her presence. The food was delicious and I noticed that I relished and enjoyed the taste. I did not feel it was something that I just needed to consume for bodily sustenance. The food was a comfort just like her being there was. It was great to have conversation again while eating.

After dinner, we moved and sat in the sala/dining area where I like staying and resting after meals. I noticed that to my surprise, I felt good just being in the room in a way I had not enjoyed for some time. She was there. The empty space I felt was filled up by her presence. She animated everything.

I had forgotten the many nuances one feels that go along with missing someone, as I reminded myself silently to be more aware when loved ones are around.

Now that she is home, there is again the sound of extra footsteps around the house, the running water in the shower, the familiar and welcome laughter and conversation.

Before she arrived, it was the wind, the creaking of wood in the house, the breeze and the distant barking of dogs in the neighborhood. Tonight as she lies beside me, I hear the turning of the pages of a book she is reading, and the sound of sheets being pulled up. She has fallen asleep just now, tired from the trip from Sydney. I hear her breathing softly.

When you are separated from someone for a time, the other becomes some sort of a semi-fixed image, almost like a memory or vague concept. And the longer the other is away, the more the image becomes set. I can imagine how it is with OFW couples who meet again after years of being separated. Too many birthdays, anniversaries and important occasions not shared can produce the discomfort of unfamiliarity. Often, it can lead to the feeling of alienation. The kids have practically grown up not having experienced one parent’s presence at home. It can seem like Dad or Mom are just Skype figures that appear onscreen occasionally and sends money back home.

Their sudden return and presence can totally shake everything up in many ways. The missing parent tries to make up for lost time even if the other members of the family have established routines that they are not part of anymore. It is a sad situation for everyone and it will take a while before things settle back to normal, if they ever do.

Luckily, we have not been separated that long. I must admit though that there is this faint feeling of strangeness of someone else being in the house where I have been living alone the past months. But thank God, it is a welcome feeling.

Jamming with Jim Paredes in his universe 0

Posted on October 07, 2014 by jimparedes

By Ching M. Alano (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 5, 2014 – 12:00am
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MANILA, Philippines – With his now snow white hair giving him a more dignified aura, Jim Paredes still bears visible traces of the guy the English-speaking colegialas swooned over back in his young Apo days with Buboy Garovillo and Danny Javier. Beneath his warm smile that’s disarmingly charming, you unravel the many facets of his personality, his passions, his compassion, and the fire in his belly that has remained undiminished by time.

KNOCK ON WOOD — LOTS OF IT!

On a muggy afternoon, Jim welcomes us into his house in Quezon City — a home he and his wife Lydia built with lots of old wood and glass, and tons of love and laughter. “We saw this mansion and they were making a new building so we offered to buy the wood, glass, and everything,” Jim tells me as I sit across him at the long wooden dining table that can seat 20 persons. “I love the whole idea of wood. Nung bago pa lang kaming lipat, somebody came here and told me, ‘Dun pa lang sa labas, Jim, I could already smell the wood.’ When people come here, they think they’re in the province or para kang nasa Bali.”

But he quickly points out, “Nakamura nga kami sa wood pero ang mahal naman ng carpentry.”

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If you’re looking for the living room, well, this is it. There’s just one big sofa on which sit six throw pillows with drawings of the occupants of the house — Dad Jim, Mom Lydia, daughters Erica and Ala, son Mio, and granddaughter Ananda.

The long wooden table is the centerpiece of the living room — so massive that it took a lot of people to bring it in and it will be hard to move it from where it is now. Talk about an unmovable feast!
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Speaking of feasts, the perfect quote for this perfect dining setting is written on a cornice: The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.

“It’s a very dramatic dining table, you really feel you have an appointment with food, which is really important as you just don’t eat for sustenance — you taste the food, you appreciate it,” says Jim. “That date with yourself is so special.”

Wife Lydia is the hostess with the mostest; she loves preparing elaborate dishes — salad, fish, pork, beef. “She likes laksa,” Jim shares.

There was so much spare wood left that Jim decided to make a bahay kubo for his apo, daughter of his daughter Erica who’s a single parent. “I love them both, they’re a blessing to my family,” says this cool dad/granddad who confesses he could be “too cool.”

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In this Balinese-inspired little house, Jim says he can also get a massage or do some writing. Jim wears a lot of hats now: “I’m a writer, teacher (at Ateneo, his alma mater), and speaker. I do a lot of things. I still do concerts by myself. The Apo split up four years ago after being together for 41 years. It was time, but I still like to perform and do concerts here and there. Sometimes, I do it with Buboy; si Danny ayaw na talagang kumanta.”

WALA NAPO SILA

Jim misses the Apo (originally called the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society which began during their days at Ateneo de Manila High School) tours abroad as well as the sold-out concerts. How can he forget the Apo’s well-applauded performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall where the Apo was the first Filipino group to perform in that world-famous concert venue? He also remembers the Apo’s concert in Saudi Arabia, having been the first foreign group to be allowed to perform there.

Jim wrote love songs from an angle that had not been fully explored, like “Mahirap magmahal ng syota ng iba.” He wrote songs that commented on the day’s social issues. His unforgettable offering to Filipinos is his Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo, the anthem of the Edsa Revolution in 1986. This active street parliamentarian continues to publicly support progressive causes.

In 1998, when Joseph Estrada was elected President, Jim decided to leave the country and migrate to Australia with his whole family out of sheer disappointment. “I just wanted to get out and my wife was also recovering from cancer. It was a good time.”

It’s been 10 years since his wife Lydia was diagnosed with breast cancer. “That’s one of our biggest challenges — I didn’t want to think she was facing cancer, I always believed we were facing cancer, the two of us had cancer,” says Jim. “Doctors always suggest a mastectomy, but my wife went to a young female doctor. If you were educated before a certain year, mastectomy was it. After a certain year, they found that lumpectomy works just as well, as long as it’s done properly. That’s what we did. And when we moved to Australia, we got an Australian doctor who’s a world cancer expert. Two years ago, the doctor told her, ‘Stop seeing me. You’re cancer-free.’”

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NEW HOUSE, NEW LIFE

Jim adds, “Basically, I am living a new phase in my life now and buying this new house was the right thing to do.”

He recalls with a shudder, “I was really scared when we transferred here three months ago. At the height of typhoon Glenda, I was living here alone and I thought the glass walls would be shaking. But no, they’re sturdy.”

Aside from this new house, what else is new with Jim? He’s doing his second solo album since the Apo disbanded. “I had all the strings of my guitar changed because I wanted to write new stuff and everything,” he explains. “I have six songs already lined up.”

What inspires him when he writes his songs? “Anything — a phrase I hear, something I read about, a thought that comes to me, a deadline, just like writing,” he shares his random thoughts.

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Jim relaxes in his favorite family corner: “Yes, I’m a cool dad sometimes too cool!”

Fact is, so Jim discloses, he didn’t know he could write until “nag midlife ako. My definition of midlifing is you really feel that the software you’ve been working on is inadequate. There are new questions in your life. Sabi nga ni Carl Jung, ‘What was true in the morning is no longer true in the afternoon of life.’ With that, I gained so many insights about my own life and life itself. So, I started writing them down.”

ADVICE TO TODAY’S YOUTH

Aside from the Edsa Revolution, Jim says he reached the turning point (no turning back now) in his life “in my early 40s, when I really told myself that more of just this — singing, being overpaid as a performer, and having fans — is not gonna do it for me. I wanted to do more inner work so I started writing, doing workshops for creativity. I really felt the crisis of the times — when people have lost their ability to get enchanted and to get inspired. They’ve lost it. Everybody’s practical now. I tell even the young kids I teach at Ateneo, ‘You know, your parents are more rebellious than you. You’re all so conformist. You want that good job and you really think that everything just falls into place when there’s money. No. The duty of a young person is to be reckless.”

For Jim, the ’60s and ’70s were probably the best years. “When we started to question everything and we really thought the world would change. It did change, but money made a comeback.”

Jim is home alone now, with his wife and kids in Australia. “My two kids like it there, they’re already dual citizens. My wife can be a citizen if she wants. Me, I’m just a permanent resident, I go in and out.”

The house-proud Jim gives us a tour of his home. Before this house, Jim had his recording studio and office here. “This house was 99 years old when we got it three months ago,” says our instant tour guide. “It was already run-down when we saw it, somebody fixed it for us; we don’t know the owners of the house. The main doors are church doors, which are so huge you can actually enter the house riding a horse. All these doors are made of narra, which you can’t find anymore.”

The doors leading to the living room have handles which Jim and Lydia bought in a medieval market in Kathmandu. “We pick up a lot of pieces from our travels, my wife especially; she’s a collector,” says Jim.

Jim gave Lydia the freedom to do what she wanted with the house. “I told her, ‘Ikaw na ang bahala since you complain the most.’ I only worry about the expenses — magkano na naman yan? My wife is alive and animated when she does things for the house. And it’s a good thing that we had a husband-and-wife (Edwin and Divina Mallari) team of architects. So, the wife knows what my wife likes while the husband makes sure the house is structurally sound. Ang galing ng combination nila.”

A huge tree trunk holds the first floor and goes all the way to the second floor. The stairs are lighted so it won’t be hard for the couple to go up when they’re much older.

SOLAR-POWERED HOUSE

The beauty of it all is that the house runs on solar power and uses more efficient and energy-saving LED lights. Everything is mood lighting, but if the dining area, for instance, needs to be lit up for conversation, there’s central lighting. Believe it or not, for a house as big as this, Jim’s monthly electric bill is no more than P4,000. Sensing our disbelief, Jim offers to show us last month’s bill. No need, we tell Jim, as we cool ourselves under a ceiling fan. “We do have an aircon, but it’s the inverter type so it’s really matipid and meant for long use.”

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All the walls in the master’s bedroom have ventanillas or capiz windows and iron grills, “so it’s really maaliwalas,” says Jim.

Jim takes us for a peek into the glass-roofed shower room that’s got a view of the outdoors. “It’s surreal, but of course, we made it higher than the rest of the house so di ka masisilipan when you’re taking a bath.”

Back in his bedroom, Jim picks up his beloved guitar sitting pretty on a wooden chair. And then he retreats into a little nook, which he calls his meditation corner where he does his Zen. “It’s like emptying your mind, it calms you.”

Jim is a prayerful person. “Most of the time, I pray for acceptance. I pray that cynical people, people who cannot see good in things, can awaken to who they truly are because I think the moment you awaken, there’s no other mode to be in except gratefulness, gratitude. Kung tulog ka and feeling mo there are no portals of enchantment in life, wala, it’s a miserable life. I pray that people awaken to the best part of who they are. They have it, but they don’t know it. So I pray that they discover it.”

JIM THE TRAVEL BUG

Jim likes staying home, but he also likes a change of scenery all the time, that’s why he loves to travel, travel, travel. “I just want to disappear in a city with a camera (Jim has an eye for photography). I just want to hang around with old friends from way back prep school. Through the years, pakonti na kami ng pakonti. But while they’re there, enjoy them.”

He enumerates what’s on his bucket list, “We want to do the Santiago de Compostela walk (a pilgrim’s journey of over a hundred kilometers). I want to do more diving and devote my time to causes that really improve things. Ayaw ko na ng anything na mababaw, because I think on the face of the earth where you stand and live, you light the light so that others may be affected.”

It there’s anything Jim regrets in life, it is that “I should have done things younger. And I should have been more reckless. Parang masyado pa rin akong nakaplano. Parang gusto ko to just take off, decide things on the spot. I kinda like those things. But my wife, if she likes to travel, she plans it two months ahead. Ako, it’s like let’s leave in a few days. My wife takes long to pack. Me, whatever I forget and don’t have, I buy. And I can stay under any accommodations. I’m really not a picky guy. That’s why when this house was built, I said just give me my little corner and a place to sleep, and I’m good.”

NO TO POLITICS

We couldn’t resist asking Jim, “Do you plan to run for public office?”

“I thought of that,” comes the quick reply. “But I can’t afford to be a politician in the sense that I can’t live on the salary of a politician and I’m not gonna steal. I have little resources which will go to my wife because she’s a cancer survivor and it may suddenly reappear. If I use that to maintain a career in politics, I won’t last. At one time, I was thinking of a Cabinet position because I was asked to submit my resume. So, I think as an artist who just expresses himself, I might be doing the service I should be doing.”

Jim not only makes songs that stir our little universe, and make it a little kinder. He now also makes a lot of noise in social media. He has over 700,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook.

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“I’d like to leave a whole repertoire of songs that people will sing for another 50 years,” Jim muses. “And as a teacher now, I’d like to invest my time in affecting the lives of young people. May they pursue their heroes’ journey. I think every life is a hero’s journey. With the proper decisions that you make, you live a life full of passion and compassion. My view is if you have a passion, you have compassion. If you’re just living for a day-to-day existence, wala kang pakialam, wala kang compassion. Joseph Campbell says that when you find your passion, you find your bliss, and doors that were closed for others will open for you.”

Having seen nearly every nook and cranny of his house — and found out a little of what’s in the chambers of his heart — we walk out the door as the rain starts to pour. Indeed, pumapatak na naman ang ulan sa bubong ng bahay.

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Eternal sunshine of the Teflon mind 0

Posted on October 07, 2014 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 28, 2014 – 12:00am

Do you control your mind or does your mind control you?”

I read this question some 20 years ago in a Zen book and it actually scared me. It did because I knew the answer and it was that my mind controlled me.

I knew it did because often, my mind would get so hyperactive that I couldn’t relax. When I was worried about something, my mind would go overboard thinking of the worst possible scenarios that could happen. I was always thinking. When I was curious, my mind would get too focused on something and I couldn’t let it go. My mind did not know how to rest.

My mind can seem like it is an entity that is separate from the rest of my being. It may sound funny to say it but my mind seems to have a mind of its own. It can lead me to different states and I often catch myself surprised at how I got there.

It was about the same time in my life when I read the quote above that I wanted to explore my own relationship with God, the nature of life, truth and the meaning of everything.

I was deep into my “midlifing” and I did not know it. I was looking for answers to life questions. I was looking for peace of mind.
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I knew that to have that, I had to change some things in my life. I needed to do new things and one of them was to have some sort of control over my own thoughts. This included knowing consciously when I was over-thinking, obsessing, or falling into familiar negative “scenario-making” patterns that gave me no peace.

I tried to detach from them at first with little success. I would always fall back into hearing voices in my mind pitching in the same negative opinions, fears anxieties about so many things.

One weekday when my wife was shopping in our neighborhood supermarket, she saw an old acquaintance whom she knew was involved with a Zen group in Marikina. After some chitchat, she asked about the Zen stuff and the woman said that they were open for new members to join that coming Saturday. There would be an orientation and an introductory session for potential members to give them a feel of what Zen meditation was all about.

I went that Saturday. I was in a group of about 10 people. We were asked why we were there. I think I mentioned that I was curious to find out what it was all about. At that stage in my life, I was also undergoing what I can only describe as a great “spiritual shift.” I had a great longing to find new answers to spiritual questions that had been bothering me, which the religion I was born into could not adequately answer. I wanted direct answers to my questions which dogma could not give me.

I remember one person in the newbie batch who was incessantly talking about practically everything. It seemed like he almost could not stop. I laughed inside as I observed how loud and noisy his mind was.

The teacher explained to us that Zen meditation was all about just sitting and quieting the mind. He said Zen was not for everyone. He did not talk much about anything else. I just remembered he said rather cryptically that just by sitting quietly on our Zen mats and pillows, we were somehow instrumental in saving the world. I secretly rolled my eyes at how “new age” that sounded. He then gave us instructions to sit daily at home facing a wall for 10 minutes and to come back the following Sunday.

Not only did I do the home sits, I went to the meditation sessions every Sunday morning for the next 10 weeks.

At the zendo (the place where we would meet and sit), everyone, old and new members, would sit for 25 minutes at a time in total silence. There was no talking at all except for the Sensei (teacher) who would give a teisho (talk) after a few rounds of meditations. Except for a few bells that rang and the sound of wooden blocks that would tell us when to begin to sit on the mats, end, stand up and do kinhin (walking slowly at the pace of the person ahead of you), everything was quiet.

No verbal instructions were given. The newbies had to observe and simply do what we were supposed to do. In this case, it was mostly to just sit quietly in proper Zen position.

The next few weeks, months, and years, I joined as often as I could. I diligently did 25-minute meditations daily, for weeks, without missing a day.

I gradually noticed a quieting in my thoughts. They were still there but I felt I had the power to withdraw involvement and merely watch them come and go. It was astounding how all this felt so liberating. The battlefield that was my mind had become a place of spaciousness. I felt like I had transferred from a cramped suffocating house into a bigger home with lots of fresh air.

It was the first time in years that I felt a “peace of mind.” I was hardly caught up in anything. While I continued with my personal concerns, commitments, advocacies, I did not feel trapped in them. I felt I was in control of the switches that could turn them on and off when I wanted to.

I also felt a lightness of being where everything was clear to me in both shallow and profound ways. In my mind, I felt there was nothing to keep and nothing to throw away. Everything was just within reach when I needed it. And I found that I was needing less and less of any particular thing.

I cannot say that I am free of all anxieties and negativity. I still do get pushed and pulled by many concerns and it can still mildly drive me crazy. But I know that I have tools that I can use now so I do not get “hooked” too much. I can detach, and come back to them when I feel like.

I use the imagery of Teflon to describe what my mind feels like now. While it may host a number of thoughts and opinions, it does not feel the need to keep them. Whatever negative thoughts find their way into my mind eventually leave. Nothing sticks. There is hardly anyone home. It is free and open like the clear blue sky.


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