6/09/2021

unshakable awareness

 

do you remember the post on my (quite unsuccessful) experience with mindfulness meditation? well, i still suck at it but i am not a quitter and i don't give up. when something does not work in the way it's supposed to, i do what i can to find another approach to reach my goal. so i decided to have a look at some other method of meditation.
thus, looking for a book on the matter, i came across Richard L. Haigh's “unshakable awareness”. the author is an expert of samurai martial arts and japanese techniques of meditation. the form of meditation explained in this book is called total embodiment method (TEM) and its purpose is to maintain a state of meditative awareness through our daily life, whatever we're doing and wherever we are. a sort of dynamic version of the traditional meditative approach that usually requires a silent place and sitting with your eyes closed and legs crossed in eastern fashion poses. TEM should be something dedicated to active and busy people without any interest in the mystical or spiritual side of things. so i thought that it could fit my needs better and decided to give it a try. at the end of the day when it comes to meditation my main goal is rewilding my mind (making my brain work more in the way a non-human primate brain works) to manage better my mental resources, and not becoming a meditative ascetic.
the book contains a brief explication of what awareness is and of the ways our mind works, plus some examples and exercises on how to train our brain and our senses to maintain a state of constant awareness. the main concept of TEM is quite similar to the one of mindfulness meditation (being more aware of what's going on) but while mindfulness is mainly an introspective practice (focusing on our inner world, be it the rhythm of the breath or the flowing of thoughts and feelings), TEM requires expanding our attention to the outside, focusing our senses on what happens around us. the author explains this state as the condition that allowed samurais to survive all the dangers and the menaces they had to face during their duty. well, i've been surprised by the fact that some of the techniques described in the book are something that i already do and have done since childhood without any teaching... i'm talking about some easy mental games as looking for alternative exits while in a confined space or training all senses (and not only the eyes) to perceive someone approaching you from all directions. if these tricks can be considered meditative activities, then maybe i'm not that bad at them.
all in all i can say that i found this reading quite enjoyable, the biggest downside of the book is its length and its redundancies. i mean, in my opinion the same concepts could be well explained in 50 or 60 pages, and the emphasis with which the author recommends some practices (as cold showers) becomes a bit repetitive and over the top. maybe the book could be condensed in a chapter or two of the other book that Richard L. Haight wrote on a similar subject, “the warrior meditation”. but still, the excessive length and redundancy of some parts don't make it a bad book. on the contrary, i really appreciate the method and the approach proposed by the author, so Richard L. Haight's other book, “the warrior meditation”, is already on my wish list.