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.

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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 😉

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 in 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. 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 spiritual 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 hidden 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.]

 

 

Engaging in a relationship with death and suffering

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I’ve been publishing and running this blog since March 2014. I think I’m beginning to understand why. Partly it’s because I have this compulsion, ever so often, to write and be read – doesn’t really matter by how many. And like many others, I want a platform that is singularly in my control, where people can bear witness to as much of me as I care to reveal. Barring my partner, our daughter, and our two cats, I don’t really reveal much of myself to anyone, mostly because I prefer building community with others at arms length distance.

(I’m a family man and misanthropic humanist rolled into one. This blog is sounding board, friend, and counsel.)

I realize I also want to leave a written legacy for my daughter for her to skim through in her own time.

This makes me fear death a lot less because there’s an authentic part of me, with these random streams of consciousness, that will always be left behind in this universe. If all goes well, I will die while Sus and Daya are both alive and well, but not before having helped establish a nurturing, secure foundation of love and community for them to continue thriving in. That is all I dream off and desire from this life. (Beyond, you know, the whole nirvana ideal of freedom from attachment and desire etc…for now, I’m just taking it step by step.)

It’s funny. I used to care a lot less about death in my teens and twenties.

But ever since the blooming of our amazing family, reflections on death (as well as more morbid, fearful thoughts around suffering, grief, trauma, and more…) have been an ever-present hum in my brain.

Try as I might I am unable to get rid of them.

On the surface it’s easy to see why. I lost my younger brother nearly fourteen years ago – three weeks before his 18th birthday – to a swimming accident. Our relationship has continued to grow and thrive in other realms, but I sure do miss him in this one. Issues with loss, and fear of the same, are likely to be lifelong companions. I have also seen a lot of suffering and trauma as a result of past work and activism. I know shit can get really, really bad, really, really fast, pretty much anywhere on earth.

Furthermore, I have never experienced as deep and spiritual a love as I have for Sus and Daya. Being a nurturer and parent is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Never have I feared losing two human beings more than these two. It is a fear so deep, so raw, that I can barely put it into words.

But I think another reason for those ever-present mental segues into death and suffering is because the universe is telling me to engage with those thoughts.

Instead of avoiding them, or rationalizing them, or getting tied down by them, I need to have a judgment-free, fearless relationship with them.

I don’t know what that might look like. Like any relationship, I suppose it will go through its ebbs and flows.

But I do know it’s a relationship that can get healthier only when I let go of my need to control it. I can’t really control when or how any of us is going to die. Nor am I, try as I might, going to be able to protect my loved ones from all the ills of the world. I know they are stronger than me and certainly strong enough to handle whatever life throws at them.

The only thing I do, in fact, know with certainty is that we are all going to die and we are all likely going to encounter some suffering in our lives.

Why not have a healthier relationship with that which is the only true certainty in this life of ours?

(You know, until we figure out the whole non-linearity of time thingy…a whole other mindfuck I can’t comprehend.)

Is a nurturing nihilism possible?

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I must confess that while I have occasionally thought about the concept, I have never really been drawn to nihilism either as a philosophical construct to explore or adopt in an intimate manner. I often end up approaching and thinking about nihilism in roundabout ways.

Vicarious trauma.

Anger at injustice.

Fear.

When pondering about the multiverse and the non-linearity of time (and the infinite nature of the same).

That last one especially has me come face to face with the possibility that life is indeed devoid of any intrinsic meaning or value. Once you go infinity, that shit just fucks you up, because it means all the good, the evil, our biggest fears, our wildest dreams, everything, has happened, is happening, will happen.

This provides me both peace of mind and depression, occasionally leading to the masochistic comfort of a little nihilism here and there.

While I’ve always felt that nihilism tends to be a convenient escape from dealing with different forms of oppression in and around us, it also has the capacity to provide a bit of a temporary balm to help deal with trauma and suffering. And I believe it will always be temporary because, if past readings and experiences serve me right, distinctly contra-nihilist spiritualities and faiths – of different hues and levels of authoritarianism – eventually tend to take root among folks who’ve encountered high levels of trauma.

A touch of nihilism can nonetheless help in making sense of the senselessness of oppression, even if it is incomplete in and of itself to find peace and happiness unless matched up with other life philosophies in a hearty soul stew.

(Yes, I realize the bucketloads of contradictions in that above sentence – that’s the idea.)

Is a nurturing nihilism then possible?

Adding even greater detail for myself and my own understanding of a world that privileges whiteness, maleness, ableness, heteronormativity, and a host of other socio-cultural constructs…

Is a loving, caring, truly anti-oppressive nihilism possible?

Is it the growth and development of meaning inside us, despite or even because of our possibly meaningless lives?

Meh, UFC is on, I’ll think about this later…

Quelling the virus…

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bell hooks got it spot on with her brilliant and exquisite savaging of “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

Us denizens of America and the West, New and Old of the so-called First World, do indeed live in societies that more or less conform to this horror.

I believe that a good majority of these people don’t actually want to live in such societies, and would rather live in egalitarian, diverse, open-bordered matriarchies.

Unfortunately a good majority of people living in these societies also reap some kind of benefit or the other from the abomination that is WSCP.

Especially dudes.

And white folk.

And citizens.

And people with means and access (and let’s face it, the western world consumes so goddamn much that even those of us in the laboring classes, materially speaking, have more than the vast majority of the rest of humanity.)

This will change of course. Them borders, militaries, and inequitable consumption rates can only hold out for so long before balance sets in. When balance starts setting in, it can get violent, or it can be a caring, nurturing, even fun-filled chaos.

The latter requires coming past WSCP.

Which means actually living against the grain of WSCP, whether out of choice or compulsion.

It means quelling the virus.

The virus of toxic masculinity above all.

For it does seem quite evident that it’s what lies at the heart of WSCP. We wouldn’t have an endless supply of rapists and misogynists occupying positions of power and authority otherwise.

If us dudes continue to fail in this all-important battle for our souls; if we shirk our duties as nurturers and community members; if we continue to stay away from the kitchen, the laundry, and the household; if we fail to scorch this cancer stemming from patriarchal manhood, then this cesspool of power and violence the world over will never disappear.

It is in us to quell this virus. I refuse to believe that all men across the globe are of a cruel and selfish spirit. I refuse to submit to the notion that men have no choice but to be clueless, abusive assholes. I refuse to accept this nonsense that manhood needs to be in any way violent, sexist, or power-ridden.

I truly do believe that the vast majority of my brothers want happiness and peace of mind – the kind that can only come from taking on the never-ending struggle to quell the virus.

And when faltering or failing (indeed as a general fucking rule) I adhere to a very simple credo:

Heed the wisdom of goddesses.

I’m happier for it.