Training Diary, Week 5 – Do I just have a crazy goal so I’ll workout every day?

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I’m weak in a multitude of ways.

Like all humans I guess.

But I just don’t feel like I have the mental strength to workout every day unless I have some goal to commit to. And when I say workout, I mean something that gets that heart rate up, a sweat going, and some muscular stress. Even if it’s just for 15 mins. Hopefully more like 30-45.

Every day.

I don’t think I’d do it in a way that keeps me honest and true unless I had a goal to keep my lazy ass motivated. Because really, when I think about it, laziness and the need for relaxation is a critical baseline from which humanity operates from. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we work the week to enjoy the weekend, we labor in order to enjoy the fruits of relaxation after, we sweat so we may later rehydrate with a crisp honey lager.

We struggle so we may feel joy in all its glory.

So then why can’t I workout every day just for the sake of feeling those endorphins and post-workout treats? Why this goal of becoming a pro fighter?

I really can’t say. What I do know is that unless I have a genuinely hard athletic goal in front of me (that also doubles up as a spiritual quest to figure out this toxic masculinity shit), I’m gonna get lazy with my workouts. And I haven’t exactly gotten the healthiest grip on all the pleasurable poisons I indulge in to help me with the struggles of life.

So I have to keep imagining a beast wanting to beat the shit out of me to get a good sweat in.

After all, we must dance with our demons to defeat the devil inside.

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God bless the Tibbetts family

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It is easy in this day and age to fall prey to the baser compulsions of nationalism and parochialism. Especially for folks from majoritarian communities in a demographically fluid country. In America, for the most part, baser nationalist instincts often find a home with insecure, fearful white communities.

It can be particularly tempting to consolidate this fearfulness when faced with the bottomless anger and sadness that comes with the loss of a young loved one. I know this feeling well.

It is a testament to the Tibbetts family that not only have they valiantly resisted such baser instincts but have come out swinging against xenophobia and racism. I don’t know anyone with a heart who could read theĀ  column written by Rob Tibbetts in the Des Moines Register and not be brought to tears. This is a dad I hope to emulate.

As a father to an angel of a daughter, a father who lives every day in mortal fear of something bad happening to her, I cannot fathom this pain. To stride beyond it and extend one’s arms to the Latino community that faces backlash over the tragic death of his daughter is a testament to the gorgeous humanity in the Tibbetts family.

I ain’t a believer in any patriarchal religion, but as a proud immigrant and in honor of this amazing, beautiful group of humans who have made the choice to face their tragedy in the bravest, most honorable way possible, I say this…

God bless the Tibbetts family.

To love and nurture without attachment?

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Off late I’ve been trying to mull over the Buddhist notion of attachment being at the root of suffering. It’s a concept that’s easy enough to grasp at a cerebral level, but remarkably hard to put into practice as a way of finding inner peace and all that other soulful shit.

For starters, the thought of attachment being at the root of all suffering is just that, a thought. It’s a ridiculously simple, and thus enormously complicated, concept that is in desperate need of actionable, day-to-day living suggestions.

It makes sense to figure it out. Who the fuck wants suffering in this world after all?

The hardest part for me in figuring out this suffering-laden-attachment is the deep, painful love I feel for my soulmate Sus and our daughter Daya.

I say painful because I can’t personally think of a greater suffering than the loss of one’s greatest loves. Indeed, the fear of that loss is a whole other realm of suffering altogether, the slow burning kind.

When you are lucky enough to experience a love so profoundly integrated into your spiritual being, it comes naturally with the flip side of crippling fear and anxiety.

I don’t like that fear and anxiety.

I think it makes me a shittier spouse and father.

It makes it harder to love with a true nurturing spirit. Because it ultimately draws back into that corrupted masculine need for control, for power to influence the lives of others.

And when I connect that to attachment, occasionally my eyes open a crack.

I’m attached to the security my loved ones bring me.

I’m attached to being needed by beautiful souls.

I’m attached to feeling like a self-righteous prick because I try in vain to fulfill all those needs.

I’m attached to the natural inter-dependency of family.

I’m attached to the health and longevity of my loved ones.

I’m attached to social norms, with nominal rebelliousness, of what perfect families ought to be like.

I’m attached to others seeing my loved ones as awesome people.

I’m attached to the easy sense of meaning and fulfillment that comes from being a committed spouse and father.

I’m attached to the respect I get from being a “family man”.

I’m attached to being able to say to the world and myself that I have real love in my life.

I’m attached to the envy it generates in people who aren’t as lucky.

I don’t know…

Maybe trying to love and nurture without attachment might just make me a less selfish asshole who can stay the fuck in the present, and be grateful for the love without getting his undies in a twist.

Training Diary, Week 1 – What is it about combat sports and athletic endeavors for me?

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Sunday.

Rest day.

After grunting my way through two-a-days for 6 days, I’m happy for a rest day. The body is sore, and the mind is figuring out how to get motivated to repeat the 12 workout-goal for the week ahead, starting with maybe some roadwork and shadow boxing Monday morning.

I’m trying to lead the life of a legitimate athlete right now. I’ve set myself some fairly difficult athletic goals to keep myself motivated because it’s hard as fuck and I don’t know why I’m trying to put my body through this. I work full time and have the most amazing family to care for. I could just exercise a little bit every day to stay fit and call it a day.

But there is something in me that I’m trying to find in the athletic grind. It’s a pain-filled journey that calls to me. A lactic-acid-flooded path I must navigate.

Right now, its boxing, which I hope to expand to other endeavors as well. I’ve had a love for combat sports as long as I can remember. I think there’s a rawness to the competition that makes it unique. Yeah, two white dudes can grunt for four hours tapping a ball back and forth across a net and call it competition, but everyone knows that the fear of getting legitimately hurt in a fist fight adds an edge to things in a way that just can’t be replicated in other athletic endeavors.

In all likelihood, my own inexplicable predilection for combat sports has something to do with toxic masculinity and getting the ever loving shit kicked out of me as a kid. In my current situation as an immigrant man of color married to a white woman and nurturing an inter-racial family in alt-right-influenced America, I guess it’s also a way of blowing off some steam.

The endorphins you get from the training sessions are pretty cool too.

So, I’ve decided to dive headlong into it for a bit.

The last time I lived like a part-time athlete was over two decades ago, when I was 15-16, training for the 400-800 like someone possessed. Two-a-day workouts. Competition. Dreams of Olympic stardom. The works.

Then I had to throw it all away to focus on my studies. I guess I’m happy I did so. A decent, fulfilling career in health and social services. A condo in Toronto. A house in Minneapolis. Both nice, progressive cities with diverse populations. Family fairly well set. Easy, fulfilling job now. Pretty sweet life with loved ones, friends, beer, and weed.

What more could a man ask for at the age of 38?

That’s where unrequited childhood dreams of athletic glory come in to keep one from going soft.

And week 1 was successfully, albeit painfully, completed.

Whoop dee fucking doo for soreness.

Honorable MMA training buddies wanted in Twin Cities area

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This is an earnest call out for honorable MMA training buddies in the Twin Cities area.

I’m a 38 year old, lifelong martial artist who honors the core values of love, freedom, and humanity – an educator and counselor by profession, who’s obsessed with mixed martial arts.

I’m of the belief that fighting – as in unarmed fighting – is in our DNA. We come out of the womb punching, kicking, and screaming, covered in blood, shit, and goo.

Fighting with our bare hands has been present as a sport with every culture on earth, through the ages. (My own goes back to Adithada and Mustiyuddha from millennia gone by).

MMA, despite its myriad limitations and drawbacks, is the closest we’ve gotten in sporting terms to unarmed combat in this current modern epoch.

Indeed, I believe part of the reason for my own obsession with MMA is because it’s the sport that comes closest to unarmed combat today. Like many reading this, I have faced violence in my past and was drawn to martial arts as a kid for both the right and wrong reasons. I’m trying very hard now to walk the path of an honorable warrior who puts his best foot forward for his family, community of loved ones, and the earth we live in.

One of the things I do to achieve that is a daily dose of conditioning tailored for MMA. I train for a half hour every day (in addition to watching what I eat, participating in activities that feed my soul, and trying to develop a sharp mind).

My half hour of conditioning work usually consists of fairly intense shadow boxing, sprawls, squats, lunges, monkey hops, striking combos (punches, elbows, knees, kicks), constant foot movement, and core/back work, while focusing on breathing, balance, and volume. In addition, and as often as I can, I bike, walk, do pushups/squats, dance with my kid, and occasionally workout on a long bag or a ground n pound bag. I’m fit, athletic, and quite strong; 5 feet 10 inches tall, walking around at ~155 pounds. I think conditioning is the most important physical, mental, and spiritual part of being a fighter. I also believe it should should be the first step for any martial artist and conducted lifelong as a daily grind with endorphin yummies for reward.

I’ve been to gyms before and have trained/sparred, but currently cannot commit to one. I’m a working man and my first commitment is my family, thus all the money we make goes towards the mortgage and family needs. In other words, I don’t currently have the resources to join a proper MMA gym.

Instead I was hoping to find some training buddies in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area who might want to meet once or twice a week, or more, to workout together and, eventually, spar together (ensuring proper safety, rules, intensity levels, and honor bound codes of conduct, of course).

Initially, I’m imagining just doing conditioning workouts together, discussing sparring ideas, and ways to lead honorable lives as warriors (no jokes, I think that shit’s important to growing as a martial artist). My ultimate plan is to get a good conditioning workout for a half hour and then maybe a few rounds of sparring for a half hour, with protective gear and low to medium intensity…so no crazy haymakers and then gassing in a minute and a half…I’m learning from past mistakes šŸ˜‰

I’m seeking a symbiotic, supportive relationship to get better as fighters and live more honorable lives as warriors. It is thus absolutely vital that my training buddies also honor the deeper core values I’ve mentioned above of love, freedom, and humanity. The relationships we build are more important than our relative fighting skills or lack thereof. Martial arts, and MMA in particular, unfortunately attracts a lot of alpha-male-type assholes drowning in toxic masculinity. If you are sexist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, or an intolerant bigot in any way, I do not want to hear from you as you are not a true martial artist and have strayed far from the path of the honorable warrior (no matter how awesome a fighter you might be). However, if you smiled at that last sentence, please do get in touch.

It’s easier for me to get my ass kicked in workouts and sparring by a fellow warrior whom I respect and care for and I’m hoping it’s the same for you. I also wish to emphasize that you don’t need to have prior martial arts experience – like i said, I truly believe fighting is in our DNA (and we’ve all fought or had our butts wupped in real life). All we need is a willingness to sweat, learn, and help one another get better at life. Maybe we can even document our ongoing success and failures on forums like this.

Finally, I’m also keen on exploring other warrior arts and skills apart from just combat sports – shit that might come in increasing use as our societies crumble for better or worse. You know, shit like hunting, sustainable living, bartering cooperatives, and organic permaculture. I just think doing strength and conditioning work for combat sports and sparring together is a great way to start. My ultimate (pipe) dream is to see this grow magically into a non hierarchical, anti-oppressive, warrior society based on love, freedom, and humanity.

Whatever…costs nothing to smoke up and dream after a workout.

Seriously though, if what you just read spoke to you, and you live in and around the Twin Cities, I’d love to hear from you. Text or email me please and we can chat.

kind regards and much peace,

Shree Varuna

612-636-9895

forthematriarchy@gmail.com

 

Towards a healthy engagement with monotony

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Life truly is a series of standout moments. Many of them in fact – all floating inĀ a sea of monotonous reproduction in between.

I think we live in a culture that is consumed by an unquenchable desire, and thus unquestioning laboring, for the highlightable moments in life. Our pop culture is replete with neatly packaged moments – good, bad and everything else – that we are told constitute a life we ought to lead.

But we’re not culturally attuned to figuring out the monotony in between. (For starters, it would make for really, really boring television.)

The very fact that I call it monotony – as opposed to, say, journey, which I’ve been told might be a healthier way of looking at it – is a bit of an indicator already. Monotony means repetition, and repetition is a surefire path to boredom in this world of ours, dominated as it is by pop culture soundbites.

I’m not great with monotony for this reason. It’s the reason that one of my greatest life endeavors has been to entertain myself during the monotonous tasks often required for the sustenance of life and love – the monotony of taking care of business so to speak. I do believe this somewhat unhealthy relationship with monotony has been one of the reasons I have struggled in the past with alcohol and cigarettes as coping measures.

Monotony reminds us of the moments that constitute our life across the multiverse and the myriad timelines we exist in – good and bad. It is in getting mindful during the vast spaces of monotony in one’s life that I believe I might get a healthier engagement with those unforgettable moments – timeless joy from the good and endless strength from the bad.

Thus, in an effort to understand life better I am realizing the need to engage with the monotony of life just as much as I seek glorious mile markers.Ā For it is indeed the boring and non-scintillating activities that are necessary for the sustenance and nurturing of loved ones who make those moments of true joy possible.

I believe a major factor in getting to a state of mental, emotional, and spiritualĀ flow – not delirious joy and happiness but rather a baseline state of fairly mundane satisfaction – is a healthy engagement with monotony and boring activities.

Among other things I can think of that help in this regard is understanding the hiddenĀ good side to monotonous life activities (apart from any plant-based intoxicants that serve as reward that is).

And here’s what I think that good side is:

It’s safe to say that if one is engaged in these activities then it likely means there isn’t acute stress or pain in one’s life at that very moment. This might change in the future (or you might access pain from your past), but when your life is at a state where you are regularly engaging in day-to-day boring-ass shit, it is a likely indicator that your life isn’t in any immediate danger and that a relative amount of safety is present.

It’s a good thing to remember in this dance with our demons…

 

Love is loss…beautiful, gut-wrenching loss

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Is love possible without the inevitability of loss?

Can true bliss ever be appreciated without pain?

Are we doomed (or blessed?) to forever navigate our lives suspended between joy and suffering?

These are rhetorical questions of course. We know the answers, but we often choose to be blind to vast portions of truth that throb in our hearts and minds. We want infinite love and never-ending joy while succumbing to the linearity of time. We want the happily-ever-after, but without the inevitable ending and regeneration of this earthly life.

They are the demons we fear.

He was out roaming the streets, free and happy. Roaming around the neighborhood and community we all loved, visiting his friends, knowing there was a loving home that would always wait for him.

That fateful night his body was taken away from him by a speeding car, a symbol of humanity’s callousness for the earthen life that sustains us all. That night was when we as a family faced our first (but certainly not last) devastating blow. That night, pain became our eternal companion.

And the questions started pouring in as we held each other, drenched in one another’s tears:

How can life be so cruel?

Why did he have to be taken away from us so soon?

What did we do wrong?

Hell, what’s the bloody point of it all?

The questions are a pitiful exercise in pain management I suppose. The dance with the demons we’re all invited to join, that nobody seeks.

Aye, but here’s the rub…

Deep down, we – his loved ones – don’t want that pain to go away.

For that’s the point of love. It is in pain and loss that love achieves its ultimate realization. It is the gut-wrenching beauty of love. We need those demons. They look fearsome but in reality they are our truest and dearest confidantes.

So all we ask now is that he stay free and happy.

Cos the demons tell me he’ll always be with us…

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[Rumi poozy, I love you more than life itself and I always will. My brother and best friend – you’ve given me more joy than I could ever repay. I got some things to take care of in this life – you know love needs nurturing – but I can’t wait to roam this universe with you and Vaddu. Stay awesome.]