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Re: The Art of Defying Death/ The scream didn't hurt

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  • Papajeff
    The scream was her abracadabra .
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 19, 2009
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      The scream was her "abracadabra".

      --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, "Papajeff" <jeff@...> wrote:
      >
      > Thanks, Bob. This story is
      > as provocative as it is
      > many-layered
      >
      > 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.
      >
      > Jeff
      >
      > --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.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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