METTA MIND JOURNAL: PAUL MASVIDAL’S MEDITATIONS FROM COPENHAGEN AND HAMBURG
Cynic’s Paul Masvidal has been chronicling the band’s U.S. and European Carbon-Based Anatomy tour as part of his Metta Mind Journal column here on MetalSucks over the past few days. Check out previous entries here. Today’s meditations come from the band’s tour stops in Copenhagen and Hamburg.
Meditation location #29 – CBA tour – Lyngsby / Copenhagen, Denmark – Sold out show! The most interesting part of my day was photographing these white berries I saw on a small barren tree just outside the venue. From afar they looked like glowing little alien pods in this dark patch of foliage. In one of my photographs, a sprite appeared as one of the pods; it was a centipede-like nymph with the face of a baby dove seal.
I meditated on the emergency ladder, at rooftop height and listened to the freeway on my left, as I quieted the mind and took refuge in stillness. What a gift it truly is to have meditation in life.
I had one person ask me post-show what ‘karmic thread’ means. He was referring to the song “Carbon-Based Anatomy.” I told him that I understood it to be that we’re all accumulating karma on a daily basis by our actions, and there’s a ‘thread’ we’re connected to (according to certain spiritual traditions, this would include past lives), that ultimately ripens. It appears in a more obvious way during the ‘dramatic periods’ of our life. The connective tissue of the karmic thread is always there, so as we accumulate merit with our ability to surrender/love or do the opposite, like going backwards, this thread essentially holds the energetic imprint of our soul. It’s who we’ve always been, mapped out like a universal grid ready to manifest as needed based on personal and collective energy.
In the context of the song, I ask if one would have the awareness to see the ‘karmic thread’ of their life story woven into their current behavorial pattern. It’s a question of the person willing to take responsibility for their own violence, instead of blaming the world again and again for being ‘wronged’, or matters not unfolding as they had preferred.
It’s crazy funny how mad we’ll drive ourselves when we argue with reality (with what is). We never win. We don’t necessarily have to like ‘what is’, but we sure don’t need to beat ourselves up about why it is. It seems real courage is being able to look at any life experience with a fresh, open, unbiased face. No judgement. To let life happen and completely trust in it without our fussing, like a curious baby, unfixed without the underlying commentary. Courage then appears as a fierce gentleness.
The show was rocking! …again the attentive type, although I had a guy in front of me who was gesturing hand and body movements throughout the set, as though conducting to the dynamics of Cynic’s music. He was really good at it and knew our tunes inside out. He became this ball of energy in my peripheral vision which helped keep the energy up. Good stuff. Thanks for showing up Denmark. We will certainly be back!
Meditation location #30 – CBA tour – Hamburg – I sat on the edge of the Elbe river and felt as though I was floating over the water. Under me, dark waves undulating. A surge of fear and anxiety arose within a few minutes of getting situated. I looked at my hand and it was trembling. I felt like the black sea below would swallow me whole.
I’ve become quite intimate with fear over the years — unearthing my own darkness — which has happened during longer meditations periods, but this time it felt like it came out of nowhere. As each wave swelled, a surge of fear would arise in my body. It was as though the water and I were in synch as one organism. I rode it out and breathed deep each time the anxiety rose from my body to the surface of my mind. I felt like I could taste death, that it was just below me, a breath away.
At the end of the 30 minute sit, I sat in contemplation for a few more minutes to let dissipate the tense energy that arose. It seemed the entire meditation was working through an unaddressed fear lodged somewhere in my body. Exact location, still unknown.
The third bell rang on my meditation timer and I noticed a plastic bag floating in the water below. It was bright X-mas red, and I was able to make out the words ‘Alles Gute’ printed in bold along the front piercing the surface of the water. I translated it later and read that it meant something like ‘good wishes’ in German. What a fantastic synchronicity. I took it as the universe instructing me to watch the mind and the negative thoughts that are occasionally percolating in waking reality. Our world as we know it is the product of thought. Our lives are the invention of thought melting into a co-creative cesspool of living matter. We see what we think. So, thank you floating red bag for the reminder to be mindful of the thought matter floating in my brain.
Thoughts arise regardless, like the trains going by. Question is, am I going to entertain the thought parade with my own unconscious garbage? Might as well keep those thoughts on the up and up, right? Especially if you’re gonna actually give them attention. Again, who wants to carry hell in a handbasket when it’s just a thought away? I’m not talking about self-deception in order to create a bullshit positive reality. I’m talking about being mindful and aware of the muck, while at the same time being gentle enough with myself to know the difference between sabotage and surrender. Sakyong Mipham says ‘it’s the difference between experiencing the stability and joy of our mind rather than the less appealing aspect of listening to our mental chatter.’
There’s a saying that goes “we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
Another one of my favorite teachers, Pema Chodron, puts it this way: “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” Haha. I love that.
The show was killer! Pure punk rock mayhem. I was a bit under the weather of the previous night’s libations in combination with having gotten something lodged in my esophagus just before show time… scratchy, itchy, yuck…ugh. I tried everything from ferociously force coughing, to head stands, to sipping boiling hot water combined with biting into a raw lemon. Nothing worked. Show time appeared, so I gave up and hurled myself into the discomfort, which lead to a completely raw and imperfectly liberated performance. Due to the throat weirdness, I lost much of my high register, and developed a good rasp. On a marathon tour like this, I’m quickly reminded what a fragile situation it is to have a human voice. Such a delicate instrument. With all this terror in mind, the night completely flowed. The vocal stress pushed me into a more deliberate guitar attack.
I made some new friends post show and drank more. It was one of those nights. Hamburg: thanks for co-creating a killer vibe in the room. You guys were brilliant co-conspirators in our nutty celebration of rock abandon gone Cynic style. Much love.
– Paul Masvidal / Cynic