“Meditation is not sitting with closed eyes. Meditation is: whatever you are doing, you are doing.” —Yogi Bhajan
Over the weekend I became an uncle. My niece Charlotte, who we call Charlie, was born on Saturday night after 18 hours of labor. Then on Sunday I celebrated at the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood. Gay Uncle Brian, I like the sound of that. I have been steadily gazing either each morning or each night for all the days contained in the tenth minute, except for one due to morning and evening clouds. Each gazing session feels more substantial now, I think because it’s always longer than ten minutes. Ten minutes, a block of time. A chunk of life. A consequential section of my day reserved to gaze at the ball of fire, in direct contradiction to one of our culture’s most deeply held beliefs: looking at the sun can make you blind. While there is no conclusive scientific data to suggest you can go blind from looking at the sun, because it’s so goddamn bright, we don’t question that you can. It’s logical, it would seem, because if you try to stare at the sun at high noon it hurts, a lot. You do feel like you are going to go blind. So this belief has lasted centuries, virtually unchecked.
Even the data that suggests it might be unsafe specifically mentions UV light as the main cause for concern. During the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset the UV index is zero which means that in all likelihood it actually is safe to look at it during those times. Whether it can give me super powers like some of the ancient claims suggest remains to be seen. After almost ten weeks of gazing, though, I feel pretty confident saying it’s not harmful to the eyes. I can see better, both the visible world and the invisible world, and both are beautiful, and both are real. As the sunlight continues to cultivate peace inside me, and make tranquility blossom I find myself enjoying the moments of my life more. And not just the big moments, like becoming an uncle, but all moments. I find wisdom as I watch birds. I find joy feeling warm grass on my back. I feel happiness from, in each moment, feeling okay. This is the invisible world mingling with the visible world, creating a cocktail of holy wine which makes me drunk with pleasure.
The visible: birds, the invisible: wisdom. The visible: grass, the invisible: joy. This new awareness of my external surroundings brings with it a new awareness of the invisible fortress surrounding my heart. And with awareness comes freedom. As I become aware of my inner walls, so illuminated by sunlight I begin to understand my patterns even more clearly. This awareness transforms behaviors that were once habits into choices. Once you are aware of something you do it becomes a conscious choice. Even if you still continue to do it you can no longer call it habitual, it is chosen. This empowers me to choose something else. This change in my demeanor and my disposition puzzles me. There has always been grass and there have always been birds, so what’s the big deal about ‘em now? The big deal is that I wasn’t present before. Sure, I walked on grass and I knew there were birds, but I didn’t care. My attention was distracted on my personal importance, on the story I tell myself about my own life. What was I going to achieve in life? What was I going to do today? Why can’t I find a lover who challenges my mind, fills my heart, and fires up my groin (not from STD’s but from passion) all at the same time? Now, as the sunlight burns through my inner smoke, I see that jumble of muddled thoughts for what it truly is: imagination, fantasy, invisible. And I start to live again, unbeknownst to even myself at first, in the present moment.
I hear birds singing at least twice a day now. They always sang and I usually turned up the volume on my television. Now they sing and they capture me, they speak to me. The sun is the unifying energy hanging high above our planet making everything grow. It is the one thing that all of life has in common. Whether you are a plant or an animal, a flakey employee or a cheating husband, a weather pattern or a thought pattern, it is because of the sun that you are able to be what you are. So as I drink in more sunlight it seems to be tuning me to a common base frequency that all of life shares. I am daily reminded of our oneness again. Through the influence of the solar energy I truly feel the connection again between me and every single other thing in the universe. I seem to have a new and striking rapport with animals. They come to me and seek me out, I think to encourage me to continue on the quest, or maybe they can simply smell the sunlight on me; and they love that smell. My life is becoming a meditation because for the first time in a long time, I am doing what I am doing. I am present.
SIDE EFFECTS: None
BENEFITS: I am living more mindfully and deliberately in the present moment, with only the tiniest cooperative effort on my part. I am going with the flow, finally, and when you do that you are basically carried down the river of life.