16841Re: The Art of Defying Death/ The scream didn't hurt
- Oct 19, 2009The scream was her "abracadabra".
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Papajeff" <jeff@...> wrote:
> Thanks, Bob. This story is
> as provocative as it is
> Reports of pure awareness
> and Samadhi are typically
> the result, as least in part,
> of entering a silence, a
> stilling of internal chatter
> an absolute surrender of
> linear thought, and an open
> embrace of whatever will come.
> At first digestion, this
> account of an attack and how
> it was handled doesn't seem
> to fit - when the author tries
> to compare her experience to
> yogic attainment of awakening
> to pure awareness or, but...
> after reading it a second
> time, a recollection of a
> conversation with my wife
> (at the time) came to mind.
> A close if not precise quote
> from her went like this:
> "If someone were to swing
> a baseball bat at you, it
> would stop in mid-air...
> because the idea that anyone
> would do that to you is
> something you would not allow
> into your consciousness."
> When that came to mind, the
> parallel popped up. The author
> of the story stopped the
> attacker in mid-air by refusing
> to allow another blow to be
> struck (in the same way she
> stopped the elevator in her
> dream) by slipping into a pure
> awareness of her own construct.
> She completely surrendered the
> linear rational world to a
> mystical one in which her
> siddhis (mystical powers) came
> to the fore.
> Chill. Very cool, even.
> --- In email@example.com, medit8ionsociety <no_reply@> wrote:
> > The Art of Defying Death
> > By Elizabeth Kadetsky
> > From theNew York Times 10/18/09
> > On a misty spring night in 2005, I approached my
> > apartment, on a tony block on the Upper West
> > Side facing the Hudson. I felt relaxed and calm.
> > Earlier that day I had attended a yoga workshop
> > with a guru from India, then completed a writing
> > assignment for a health and spirituality magazine
> > about, as it happened, instinct or antar-jñana,
> > inner knowledge. I opened the outer door to my
> > vestibule, then crossed through its inner door
> > and into my lobby, leaving my back to the entrance.
> > I got a prickly feeling, I don't know why. I turned.
> > There I saw, pushing open the inner door, an
> > ink-black, gloved hand, exaggeratedly large,
> > controlled and deliberate. It charged toward me.
> > It was trailed by a body, the picture of death.
> > It is difficult for me to render the horror of
> > the image of that man entering my building lobby
> > that night, so great is the disparity between
> > its emotional charge for me now and the stereotypical,
> > almost comical picture he presented. He was a
> > figment from a nightmare. I guessed his height
> > and weight at 6'3" and 230 pounds, with the
> > physicality of a boxer. The cops later told me
> > that was right. His clothes were dark and
> > innocuous clean black jeans, black sneakers,
> > a midnight-blue hoodie as if chosen to leave no
> > impression whatsoever. In contrast, on his face
> > was a neoprene thermal ski mask, the type that
> > tents in front to create a ridge and thus evokes
> > to most anyone who's heard of him Darth Vader.
> > I later discovered while searching on Google that
> > this type of mask is favored by shoppers also
> > enamored of vigilante-style military clothing
> > and toy AK-47s in other words it is meant to
> > provoke a reaction. Of the figure's actual face
> > I saw only slit-shaped, yellowed eyes and a
> > broad, acned, coal-black forehead.
> > This image seared in my mind, and somehow,
> > thinking without thinking, I reminded myself
> > to keep hold of it. Yoga's mental training,
> > it is said, enables the yogi to "act at once
> > not stopping to think." I felt superhuman,
> > unburdened by the back-and-forth of everyday
> > deliberation, in possession of ekagra
> > single-pointed concentration.
> > In a half-second, I seemed to recall everything
> > important I had learned in 20 years of practicing
> > yoga. I remembered the feeling of command of
> > flexibility and control. I remembered the words
> > of a writer on instinct I'd cited in the article
> > I'd just written, Malcolm Gladwell: "Take charge
> > of the first two seconds." And I remembered a
> > women's self-defense course I took in college
> > 20 years before, and practice we'd done screaming
> > with every bit of might in our bodies. This was a physical scream, performed with the same degree of exertion that, as it happened, we held our yoga poses.
> > But in truth, unfortunately, I was not so
> > formidable as I'd have liked. The man's weight
> > was more than twice mine. My heightened awareness,
> > my attuned and trained amanaskata intellectual
> > clarity was sufficiently developed to give me
> > merely the certainty that this man could, and would,
> > kill me. Alas, I had not yet acquired those other
> > metaphysical powers supposedly at ready call to
> > the ancient yogi, or siddhis to make myself minute
> > as an atom, or bulky as an elephant, or isatva:
> > supreme over all. I knew only, with crystalline
> > sureness, that I had to marshal every bit of force
> > in my body and spirit if I wished to survive.
> > Then, that palm became a fist, and met my face.
> > I heard a loud crack. I was unconscious.
> > I came to consciousness on the ground. The man was
> > lunging toward me with fists. None of my knowledge
> > left me. He intended to kill me. I remembered a
> > dream I'd had once in which I'd been in an elevator
> > that was plunging to the ground, its cable severed.
> > In the dream, I held my breath and clenched
> > everywhere, and then stared, hard, at the ceiling.
> > I willed the elevator to stop plummeting, and it
> > did. The dream felt mystical, more like a vision
> > a premonition, perhaps. Now, I created the same
> > sensation in my body as when I stopped the elevator.
> > And I executed the scream.
> > What happened to me next in that lobby seemed no
> > less numinous an experience than the single pointed
> > mind-state described by the adepts as Samadhi.
> > This is sometimes characterized as "pure awareness."
> > The thrill of it is said to be a manifestation
> > of spiritual, mental and physical harmony which
> > may be why the medievals called yoga "the art of
> > defying death." Tennyson described Samadhi as
> > "the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the
> > surest, the weirdest of the weirdest, utterly beyond
> > words." I was in possession of no less miraculous
> > a power than what stopped the elevator in that dream.
> > The man paused, mid-punch. As if in reverse motion,
> > he then coiled backwards, slowly, his center of
> > gravity solid and low. Assured, with graceful
> > footsteps, he loped back out that door, and then
> > disappeared into the black night.
> > I was bloodied, my cheekbone was broken, and
> > I was in a state of shock. Eventually the cops,
> > and a friend, came, and I learned that an attacker
> > by this same description had sent another woman
> > for an extended hospital stay, with multiple
> > broken ribs and other injuries. She'd taken longer
> > before she screamed, they said. The cops
> > not-so-helpfully also explained that the man was
> > "an animal," his motive violence. He'd been
> > stalking women of a certain physical type.
> > They never caught him. I moved out from that
> > apartment, and moved on, but suffered significant
> > emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
> > I do believe that yoga, and other things, gave me
> > the mental clarity that saved my life in that moment.
> > And I also believe that my training helped me survive
> > in other ways, in the aftermath.
> > That night, I finally got to bed around 5 a.m.,
> > my friend bunkered on my sofa. I survived, I thought,
> > over and over, lying in bed. But when I closed
> > my eyes, I saw three things in succession that
> > drove home to me how nearly I hadn't: the ink-black
> > hand on the door, the neoprene ski mask, and my
> > face in the mirror bruised, cut and bloodied. I opened
> > my eyes and watched the sky turn rosy pink. I closed
> > them, and saw the same three images.
> > This pattern continued, with lessening frequency,
> > for month upon month. They were a natural, limbic
> > response, I learned later: flashbacks. Flashbacks,
> > like the Samadhi described by Tennyson, exist
> > outside the realm of language and cognition. This,
> > say trauma therapists, explains why survivors
> > often manifest unresolved memories of trauma in
> > non-verbal ways for instance as inexplicable
> > pains in the body or through a dissociative escape
> > reflex. Samadhi is mimicked in "moments of spiritual
> > or material emergency," wrote Geraldine Coster,
> > an influential British yogi and psychotherapist,
> > in 1944. Contemporary therapists have noted a tendency
> > for survivors to enter that state of "pure awareness"
> > so celebrated by the yogis during, and then
> > repeatedly after, a trauma. This, they say, can
> > become a bad habit. I learned this when, eventually,
> > I did go in for counseling for P.T.S.D.
> > This paradox has been acknowledged elsewhere.
> > A "survivor who used dissociation to cope with
> > terror" may eventually learn to use a "trance
> > capability" towards otherwise enriching ends, allows
> > Judith Herman, a pioneer psychologist in the study
> > of trauma, in her seminal book "Trauma and Recovery."
> > Before I sought the wisdom of the professionals,
> > though, I did jury-rig my own program for managing
> > those flashbacks, using techniques of "mental mastery,"
> > as it were, that I'd learned in yoga. For instance,
> > I tried to recast the images playing in my head,
> > sometimes imagining they were moving around physically
> > to different parts of my brain. I also inserted into
> > the sequence of flashbacks the image of the man's
> > miraculous turning and fleeing, and my mystical
> > feeling of omnipotence in that moment.
> > My therapist later gave these methods a stamp
> > of approval. Being able to re-conceive the meaning
> > of an assault to one of empowerment versus
> > self-blame proves a deciding factor in overcoming
> > trauma. "You didn't almost get yourself killed,"
> > she said to me. "You saved your life." Recreating
> > a narrative also helps a survivor overcome a
> > fragmenting of memory that is typical in trauma.
> > "It is difficult to see more than a few fragments
> > of the picture at one time," writes Herman, "to
> > retain all the pieces and to fit them together."
> > The sufferer struggles to reconnect disjointed
> > visceral and rational memories of the trauma.
> > Healing, writes Herman, "involves the active exercise
> > of imagination and fantasy." The psychologist Mary
> > Harvey includes in her seven-point checklist for the
> > resolution of trauma simply to gain "authority"
> > over the memories.
> > Perhaps every survivor overcomes trauma differently,
> > and at a different speed. My flashbacks continued.
> > Nightmares catapulting me directly back to that
> > horrific episode lasted for years. The dreams
> > were often a feeling, of prickly dread, or they
> > were more literal, about being trailed on a dark
> > street or ambushed in an enclosed space.
> > I charted my recovery through the evolution of
> > those dreams. Eventually that feeling of palpable
> > terror subsided. Once, around the time it did,
> > the black figure appeared as a comical-looking,
> > blob-like character in a black body-costume; he
> > was like one of those actors dressed as a piece
> > of licorice in a movie trailer. I told him he
> > could remain in my dream as long as he stayed in
> > the background and didn't hurt me. He agreed.
> > In a dream several months later, the man with
> > the mask was sitting in my hallway waiting for
> > me to come home, holding the mask in his hand.
> > At first when I saw him, I was scared, but when
> > I saw his face I also saw that he was human. He
> > told me he was struggling with guilt over having
> > hurt someone. I tried to imagine if I could
> > forgive him.
> > ---------------------------------------------------
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