Posts Tagged 'Meditation for men; manful meditation'

Chapter 50. Run Motherf….er. Run.

Chapter 50.

Run Motherfucker. Run.

‘They call the wind Mariah’.

The only way to run a marathon without dying is to train for it.  Then, when you think that you are ready, you train some more until running distance becomes second nature.  Well, I had been training long and hard for my manful mediation marathon and was more than ready for a mental run to far side.  A quick lunch burrito being gone and the dishes put away, big foot white dog would have to wait; there would be no walk today. Meditation was calling. I headed back to the mancave, sat down on the cushun’ and closed my eyes once again psyched to hit the ground running.

The task at hand that afternoon was to uncover a treasure trove of new manful subjects to meditate about so I could get them out of the way before starting to work again next week.  I was down to my last days at home and I knew that I was running out of time to do so. I could feel inside that things would soon be different, for the better I hoped, but different no matter what.  It was time to tie up some loose ends and seek some closure beforehand.

Instead, I plunged into the cool waters of a very calm and relaxed state of peace that seemed to last forever even though only a short time passed, no more than 20 minutes.  It was a classic meditation, the kind I couldn’t have dreamed in the past (what me sit still?).  When it was over I didn’t feel peaceful, I felt frustrated. I had failed. Where were those manful subjects that I wanted to cover in the now anticipated mediation marathon?  That list of great man stuff I wanted to deal with so I could move back into to a working man’s life without feeling guilty about what I hadn’t been able to accomplish while hanging out at home.

So I sat there. Waited some more.  Still nothing came.  Was this some kind of final cosmic joke?  A message on the inner machine that there was nothing left to meditate about, so why not just get on with life and move on.  Was that all there was?  Was MM over?

I sat up straight.  This just couldn’t be. There had to be more ground to cover.  The show couldn’t end here.  So I sat there some more and waited for any kind of inspiration to show up.  As I waited none came.  I began to wonder about the whole mishegas.  For starts, why had I even chosen to meditate in the first place?  I was never exposed to anything resembling Eastern thought growing up, except for that one group of guys in high school who heard you could chant for a new car (they didn’t get one) and the saffron robed Krishna’s dancing dancing down the streets.  I could have cared less about Eastern thoughts, having enough trouble dealing with Jewish ones.

Where had this desire come from? How did this Eastern stuff seep into my life?  Did it begin the first time I heard Coltrane blow India or Africa or a Love Supreme?  When I saw John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana take the stage filled with candles at the Kabuki, all dressed in white. So blissed out and blessed out by Sri Chimnoy as they wailed on their electric guitars. Listening to Miles play Bitches Brew live at the Hollywood Bowl or the opening chords of that weird Beatles song on Revolver? The first smell of jasmine incense?  The first sound of the tabla drum?  And when did the trance become real, that unusual rhythmic beat that had beckoned me for long, how did it become an integral part of my life?

No doubt I became really curious about meditation after witnessing first-hand what it did to see who does not relax except when she is asleep and maybe she isn’t relaxing then either.  I had never seen her calm (remember that quiet is not calm) in the first 15 years of our marriage until she began meditating.  It evoked a huge change in her. There she would sit in our bedroom, headphones on blissed out and so happy when she finished. It looked great.

What held me back from embracing it years ago? Simple.  The complete lack of male energy in her meditation process. By no means is male energy a prerequisite for me to learn a skill. I have no trouble sewing a button on my coat (it needs fixing and waiting for help is hopeless and hapless).  I love gardening, cooking and other allegedly feminine activities.  But the whole meditation scene around her was dominated by pastel colors, roses that contained your inner fears, burnt sage and steeped deeply in the zeitgeist of women’s issues and feminist philosophy.  Let me be clear, I am not criticizing their style.  It just had no appeal to me and it wouldn’t to any regular guy.    And to be perfectly honest, as a result I didn’t trust it.  It was just too foreign to embrace.

Only when a good dose of masculine energy seeped into my quest did these Eastern concepts gain traction in my soul.  I still have trouble believing that a series of events that began as a ruse on my wife to get her off of my back as I sat stuck on my couch unable to overcome the inertia of living without a career set me careening down this road less traveled. That out of nowhere I heard an inner man Buddha speak to me and a journey began that continues to this day down this out of the ordinary path that I came to call manful meditation.

It wasn’t easy to find help or guidance.  There certainly was no map to follow for guys like me. I suffered through poor teachers and bad instructors. When that failed, I figured that there might be some reference on the internet or something to meditating with a male emphasis.  Nothing.  I was on my own and lucky that I found the way over time. I thank the stars for that.

There were other more personal reasons why it was hard. Early on it became clear that while I yearned for a powerful inner peace within, I knew damn well that I couldn’t calm myself down using traditional methods.  I needed help and not just the usual prescription. I needed guidance with male view that spoke to me.

I searched for books about Eastern thought by male authors who might make sense.  They were wonderful writers but completely neutral in tone, virtually asexual in nature and some downright creepy, replacing the power of the rose with the shape of a pine needle.  For a man who grew up with Vin Scully and Chick Hearn as his primary motivators, their mellow approach did not anything to help me overcome the long-standing persistence of my hyperactive Jewish/western mind. Nor were their instructions to practice and practice until it came good enough either. I stood on the other side of this dance floor afraid to step across just looking and looking waiting for an opening that was already there.

Eventually the mediations began to take hold.  I’m the kind of guy that has trouble reading a manual about how to work something and would rather poke at until it does.  Meditation was no different. I just kept at it until it worked. I learned over that first year that the problem with meditation for me and maybe for many others it that it is passive and we aren’t.  As I began to practice Manful meditation regularly, I replaced the traditional emphasis of meditation on emptying your mind with a focused and controlled set of thoughts that were appealing.  It helped me concentrate to pick a specific subject and then to focus on it.  That, in turn, made it easier for me to relax which helped my mind to calm down and over time it trained me to do so easily.  Oh, and it was fun.  That’s right, fun.

My manful meditations started with simple easy subjects that made me happy and held my attention.  Easy things to focus on. Stuff that reflects the glue that binds us, the male html code that builds manfullness.  Good healthy things like beer, baseball, hamburgers and wine.  Hey, I didn’t know what I was doing.  I was just thinking about what seemed to come naturally and easily.

Then over time as my power of concentration increased, the mediations grew in complexity.  As my studies intensified and fall blended into early winter something else happened that was unexpected.  I calmed down and I believe that as a direct result, she who is my wife loved me more than before. I meditated about manful subjects that I could understand and love and focus upon with an open heart and lots of joy. I could spend hours lost in manly bliss and equally powerful marital harmony.  No wonder I was attracted to it.

With equal parts concentration and confidence, I covered some serious issues in my life via mediations. Taught myself to forgive, never my strong suit.  Then forgave my parents.  Learned how not to be as overwhelmed by the complexities of living with someone as complex as someone who would even think of living with me. Learned to embrace the pains and struggles and to let go of what I cannot control. Learned the new mantras that guide me now, how often do I hear the voice within that steers me away from anger, resentment and corrosive thought towards joy, giving and strength.

As I continued down the path of manful meditation I discovered something else. I believe that I learned what Manfullness really is.  A deep understanding of Manfullness that is grounded in the belief that the world that we know as men is truly a holy place.  That every waking moment that is spent in a manful state of harmony can be a blessed one.  A perfectly balanced state of mind and body, something to be revered and celebrated as healthy happy males.*

(* a brief side note: As women have staked out their roles as equals in his world, the concept of manfullness has taken quite a beating in the past 20 years.  And let’s face it; many of our brothers have done a shit job by polluting manfullness with stupidity and abuse.  Do not fall into the trap of blaming women for this. Our goal is to honor being a man by living a better life and that honor extends to respecting those around you.  And a note to those self-righteous women who continue to condemn the mass of men for the sins of those who came before us, do not throw stones in the bedroom when you live.  It pisses us off and makes us want to leave.)

I had embraced the gentle part of the word gentleman, something so many men have forgotten.  It felt good.

Manful Meditation created an additional benefit that I grasped as another incidental pleasure of the practice. A sweet real treat, a sort of mental biscuit waiting for me at the end the road. Here is one of the most important and liberating lessons of the practice of manful meditation.

No woman, including she would not want to be called ‘my woman’, will ever challenge time spent in a manful meditation practice if you repeat the blessed chant of the meditating manful man to her:

“Honey, I need a few more minutes, I am in here meditating.”

Oh, and toss this one in if you really want to be left alone.  ‘I am really into it.”

Or this one:  “It’s a really tough one.”

She will embrace you.  I guarantee it.

The first time that these words came spilling off my lips they worked so well that I laughed out loud, reveling it their power, it was that good. I used it on her after watching a brutal 49er loss one Sunday afternoon (it was the early game). Not wanting to see a soul afterwards, I retired to the mancave where I went to console myself with several cold ones, a corned beef sandwich and some SCTV videos.  Sometime during the afternoon she knocked on the door and asked how I was doing.  I turned down the volume and told her I was meditating. After my reply she walked away from that door saying not to worry and talk to her as soon as I was ready.  When I emerged later that afternoon she could not have been more sympathetic (and affectionate too!). Do you really think she cared about how pitifully the secondary handled itself that afternoon (please just turn the fuck around and look at the ball) or that she would have reacted as well if she found me on the couch in the living room in the same scenario?

Over the course of my growing meditation practice, I imagined how this teaching could help my brothers in arms out there.  Think about this. Repeat that line about needing time to meditate to yourself a few times and imagine how that would play with your partner.  Go on, imagine the scene.  She has just walked into the room.  You are sitting up on the couch.  You might be thinking about how your favorite ball club gave it up last night in the 9th inning and worse yet, how much money you lost on the game.  You hear her walk in.  Now close your eyes quick. What do you tell her when you look up?  You tell her that you are meditating.  That’s right.  Mediating.  You are bettering yourself.  The result? You are golden.  She loves you. She walks away feeling whole.  The entire scene has changed. Done a 180. But the truth? You could have been falling asleep.  You probably were asleep.  You might have been thinking about a blessed cold one or a slice of pizza. Your mind could be anywhere.  Period.  You could be thinking about anything, anything at all.  You can and it will work.  But I digress.

Manful Mediation taught me lessons that I will always treasure. It brought me joy where there was pain, slack where there was tension.  It acts as the coder pins of a balanced manful experience, the silicon lube that frees the internal rusty mental hinges. Teachings as clear as the power of a strike at the bowling alley.   A journey with the integrity of Sean Connery and the consistency of Tom Brady.

I had found my roadmap, a manual, a guidebook to living life fully and completely in the moment. Free from boundaries and loved by those around you.

How is this even possible?  I just relaxed, released and practiced grasshopper. And please don’t think too much about how Carradine died. Wow that was weird.

As was the case on so many afternoons I started to think about dinner.  Maybe Rack of lamb.  Real Mashed potatoes.  Cumin scented  Carrots.  A dry white for her and a big red for me.  Suddenly I felt excessive, it was only Thursday.  But wasn’t there a rack still in the freezer just waiting to be defrosted?  Time to thaw.  Time to thaw.

Rack of Lamb.  Is there an easier way to show off?  I don’t think so.


1 Rack of Lamb, about 8 to 10 little chops for 2 persons.

Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil.

Option 1.  Mustard, Bread Crumbs.

Heat your oven to 450.

Put a flat baking sheet in the oven as it heats.

While waiting, toss the rack with salt, pepper and a small amount of olive oil.          If cooking option 1, combine all other ingredients and coat the rack.

When oven reaches cooking temperature, remove the baking sheet.  Place rack fat side down.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Should be brown when you turn over. Bake 7 more minutes. Lamb should be brown but still pink in the middle of the chop.

Real Mashed Potatoes.

For small portion.  3 russet and 3 Yukon potatoes.

Milk/Half and Half.




Boil the potatoes in salted water.  Cool.  Peel.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl.  If lazy use a hand masher, if pure, a ricer.   Pour in ½ cup of milk or half and half depending upon health vs. pleasure concerns.  Add butter.  Mash.  Add salt to taste.  Add liquid until the texture looks right, you know what they should look like. Chop parley and sprinkle on top.  Place a pat of butter in the middle and let it melt.

Early meditation music before I knew what it was.

John Coltrane, India, Africa and/or A Love Supreme.

Ravi Shankar

The Beatles, Within and Without You, Revolver.

The Kinks, See My Friends, Kinkdom.

Miles Davis, Shhh/Peaceful, In A Silent Way.


Chapter 1. Mantras For The Modern Man.

sayulita morning

Sayulita Morning, Boys Playing Soccer 2008

Welcome to Manful Meditation.  This is a blog taken from the book I have been writing, “Meditating Hung Over”.

Flying in the face of thousands of years of Eastern thought, I have created a guide to a new form of meditation, designed by and for that under-meditated group, American men.

Today’s blog looks at the beginning of the author’s path to Manful Meditation.  As the holy holy prophet Jackie Gleason said so many times:  “And away we go”.

Chapter 1.

Mantras for the modern man

Last year I lost my job, my hair, my wife and my dog died although not necessarily in that order.

Well that is not exactly the truth.  In fact, it isn’t even close. But I always wanted to write a country western song and I never got the chance to do so. This is as close as I will get to that moment so bear with me.  Simple pleasures are at a premium these days.

The truth is that my wife loves me, my dog loves me too and my hair is still hanging in there quite well thank you.  I did lose my job on the other hand.  That is where this often strange and completely unexpected journey begins.

Somewhere along the unnatural path of personal unemployment and global recession combined with the gentle but very firm urging of many others around me, I reluctantly began a personal quest to find myself, to bring peace, contentment and spiritual fulfillment to my every waking moment.  Something that was the antithesis of what I had always believed was the nature of my being.

My journey into this world began one afternoon when my wife came home from work early and found me on the couch watching ESPN and tossing buddy biscuits to our dog Kelly.  I was commanding her to “go deep”, hoping that she could one day run a proper post pattern.  The dog was actually was making progress but my wife was not impressed or amused by this scene.  Her look said it all and I knew that after an uncomfortable silence there would be trouble.  I didn’t even offer up a feeble “hi honey.”  I knew it looked bad.

Realistically I could see this coming for weeks now.  As she looked at me with a tightly drawn expression that could only mean trouble I smiled.  She didn’t.

After an uncomfortable silence we exchanged a perfunctory greeting. Then, after launching into another discussion about my lack of progress in finding work she bluntly asked me when I was going to get my ass off of the couch and leave the house.  I didn’t have much of an answer to give her. She told me that if I wasn’t going to make any progress in the outside world maybe I should try working on the inside one. Maybe I should try yoga or meditating.  To do something.

I reacted to her suggestion in the way that many intelligent men might. I laughed.  Not an A move. Without another word she walked out of the living room and slammed the door.  Not good at all.

Later that afternoon, as I watched a rerun of the 49er’s Redskins 1989 NFC playoff and cried again over that phantom interference call on Ronnie Lott, I began to think about what she said that afternoon.  Whether it was the injustice of that call or the way she said what she said to me, or both, for the first time it all sort of hit home.

Sitting there I realized that I really didn’t have much to do any more. Most days just sort of passed from one into another, and not only was this a first time experience for me, it was a big big problem.

I knew from years of personal experience that inactivity and boredom had always been as toxic as runoff from Chernobyl to me.  I had always relied upon the businesses of my career to keep the boredom demons at bay. Now I had a 64 oz. big gulp of both inactivity and boredom to cope with.  A supersize helping of trouble.

Whether I wanted to deal with my problems or not, inside of me I knew that I needed a change.  So I thought, why not try something new.  At a minimum it would get her off of my case and give me an excuse to help fill the time.  Hey, I thought, this meditation stuff had been around for thousands of years.  Maybe it might work for me.  Best of all, it was her idea and she couldn’t fault me for trying.

So the next day I began to look over the unread books that she had lying around her side of the bedroom about relaxation and breathing while studiously avoiding the self help titles, (btw, what an industry they had, the only persons they were helping were themselves and most of them were never read).

Eventually I found a book that seemed to make sense. The tile was “Wherever you are you are there.”  Well that made sense and kind of reminded me of the title of an old Firesign Theatre album. Maybe that was a sign that this wouldn’t be so bad.

So I sat down and began to read. As I read the book the first thing that I learned that I didn’t know how to breathe.  Funny, I thought I had been breathing for over 50 years but now I was told that I was wrong. I thought this must be bullshit. It was all downhill from there. In under 20 pages I became thoroughly bored with the book and promptly fell asleep.

Where was the story line?  Where was the narrative?  How much crap about looking inward could I possibly deal with?  I dind’t enjoy the laundry.  I didn’t enjoy going to the bank. After I woke up a few minutes later I went quietly (but happily) back to the living room couch where Kelly was waiting for me, tail waging and ready to play. After all it was Wednesday and that meant a day game even if the Giants were playing the Pirates.

That evening when my wife came home she found me as usual on the couch (for those who care the Giants were losing 4-1).  She asked me about my day.  I turned down the volume on the TV and told her that I had been reading about breathing and meditation.  But before I could tell her how miserably it had gone and how I couldn’t stand it, I saw something in her I hadn’t seen much of since the grim job reaper visited me last year, a smile.  And then she walked over to me and hugged me. I clammed up and didn’t say a word about the game or more importantly how I had put down the book.

It got better. She told her that she was so proud of me that she was going to cook dinner.  As she walked out of the room I was stunned.  And although I really didn’t get what was going on, I knew that this inner work thing seemed to be yielding immediate dividends.  Maybe this meditation stuff was worth looking at.  I certainly had to give it an effort, it was already helping our relationship.

So I tried hard to get into it. And failed.  Eventually I told her about my battles and to my very pleasant surprise she didn’t react badly.  Instead she suggested that I find an instructor to help me.

So I did!  I found a personal coach to help me on the ways of the East.  A real zen master who had studied Buddhism for decades.  He taught me about personal freedom, something we are all after.  I liked that. He was a good guy and even cursed sometimes during our sessions.  That helped me a lot.  He told me that meditation was tough and he was right.

I went to my classes and read about buddhas and bodhisattvas and dharma and chakras.  I learned to focus my breath until I counted to a thousand inhales and exhales and I sat on my ass till it hurt.  Then I sat again. I sat still for hours waiting for some kind of enlightenment.  Some kind of inner peace. And then I waited some more.

And nothing happened.  The coach told me that was supposed to be the point.  Nothing was supposed to be OK, some kind of perfect state of balance.  I didn’t get it.  I was supposed to let my gaze go free, to look at the sky, the birds the wind and not to judge.  But try as I might I couldn’t stop thinking about other things.  Something was wrong. Something was missing from this new found journey into a spiritual life and without it I couldn’t make any progress.

So at wife’s urging I tried yoga.  Lots of different kinds of yoga.  I never knew there were so many kinds of yoga all with names that could not be pronounced. I stretched and grabbed my ankles.  They hurt.  I thought I would pull all of the muscles in my body at once.  I twisted myself into pretzel shapes and even tried to stand on my head. I fell over.  Instead of fining inner peace I found inner soreness and a new found love of ibuprofen.

Then I went to a Bikram Yoga class that was the equivalent of taking an intense cardio-workout inside of a boiling pressure cooker.  After class I nearly passed out driving home and almost wrecked the car.

But if anything I am not a quitter.  So I kept trying. I sat.  I waited.  I meditated.  I breathed.  I controlled.  I stretched. Still nothing.  And I wanted to quit, I was sick of the nothingness of it all. But as I got more frustrated my wife was more encouraging than ever. “You are doing great” she would say. “Yes dear, I would answer, “you are right.” Even though I knew that I wasn’t.  And she was so happy about this!  Happier than I was! So I kept going every day to classes and instructors and readings.

But something was still missing.  Something was wrong. Where was that damn moment of inner peace?  Why was this so hard for me?  As much as I tried to enjoy those empty moments of meditation and relaxation for me they were simply and unalterably boring.

Within a few moments of sitting down and breathing my mind would wander off quickly and then permanently. Despite all the teachings that I read and instructions that I received that you were supposed to embrace these wandering thoughts and that this was really OK my mind would never wander back to emptiness and instead stuck somewhere between the dismal state of the GS Warriors and last nights episode of Family Guy.  My thoughts remained as random as my web research looking for a job.  This was getting me nowhere.  And I couldn’t tell my wife about my struggles.

But whether I liked it or not, inside of me things were changing and I didn’t even know it.  As I pushed on I felt the beginning of a shift happening that I could not put my finger on.  I felt that a change was going to come.  I found myself playing that beautiful haunting Sam Cooke song on the Ipod over and over those days without knowing why. A change is gonna’ come.  And then without warning it did.

To be continued

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other followers

Comments about MHO

juleskragen on Chapter 54. It Ends?
Janet Barton on Chapter 54. It Ends?
Janet Barton on Chapter 45. Rest Is Not P…