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 Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills

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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Thu May 10, 2012 5:19 am

Hi friends,

I don't post here very often, though I do lurk fairly regularly. But now I have something that maybe some of you can help with.

As you may know, I'm a helicopter pilot and I earn at least some of my living writing for aviation magazines. The new editor of an Australian magazine, HeliNews, found out that I used to be at Shasta and Throssel (long story) and asked for a first person article on the uses of meditation for flying...ie dealing with difficulties, keeping calm, multi-tasking, and so on. The problem I have, I said, was that I've been meditating for so long, and long before I learned to fly; so I have no idea what flying would be like without it. OK, she said, could I find some flying students, teach them to meditate, and come back a month later and ask them how much it's helped with their flying. Hmmm... I couldn't see that being feasible, or even working over that short a time period, for all sorts of reasons. So I told her I'd think about it.

Then I thought...where do I know a whole community of people, many of whom meditate? The OBCC! So, I have an idea... I think if I can write generally from my own experience about the use of meditation in daily life, with also a few quotes from people about how it's helped them in any difficult situation involving a practical skill, that might well do...I can then relate all that to the aviation environment. So I just wondered if anyone has an example, a story, something they've learned more easily, some way they feel meditation might have helped them relating to a practical or learned skill. I know at least one of you has a pilot's licence, so maybe you can even relate it to flying, but driving, sailing, rock climbing, new crafts...there are all sorts of things which have some similarities.

If you have anything which maybe I could use, please post here, or if you prefer, send me a private message. Give me some indication of how private it is - eg can I quote you by name, do you want your name changed, do you want all references to place etc changed? I can fit around whatever you want; I'm a writer, I do that.

I'm going on holiday on Sunday for two weeks and may not have internet access, but I'll take a look when I get back and see if I have enough to put together to make an article. And thanks a million in advance.

Jimyo
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Thu May 10, 2012 1:49 pm

Jimyo, I do have some thoughts to share on this - will collect my wits and post soon - and I know of another person who will be checking in via PM probably. Great topic for an article -
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Fri May 11, 2012 1:52 pm

Thanks Lise, that's great. I'll look forward to receiving something from you and hopefully the other person too. Maybe some more of you can think of something; it doesn't have to be anything earthshattering; just how meditation has maybe helped with something in ordinary life which you learned, or improved something you did earlier before you started meditating, or...anything similar. I have a general idea of what to write, but quotes really help a lot; they don't have to be very long.
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Fri May 11, 2012 2:15 pm

Jimyo,
Great question. Just adding one most critical element that meditation in daily life has taught me. Meditation in daily life, deepened and grounded in formal sitting practice, brings the capacity to see thoughts and feelings as passing phenomena and give us the freedom to detach from them, not identify with them, hence keep awareness focused on the task at hand, whatever it might be. So we can remain settled and centered in that task, and fear, anxiety, anger, the thoughts and associated emotional charge, have no compelling hold on us, and we can choose therefore to not react, and just be with what is before us. I should imagine that would be quiet relevant to the tasks of aviation. Non-reactivity and mindful presence.
Bill
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Fri May 11, 2012 3:38 pm

Bill, thank you, and I entirely agree. But what my editor would like is someone who can say that they ended up in a certain situation where meditation helped them because it enabled them to....etc etc. Editors! I realise just how hard this is to pin down, and I can't come up with any concrete examples from my own life. but maybe someone can....
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Fri May 11, 2012 5:14 pm

Jimyo wrote:
Bill, thank you, and I entirely agree. But what my editor would like is someone who can say that they ended up in a certain situation where meditation helped them because it enabled them to....etc etc. Editors! I realise just how hard this is to pin down, and I can't come up with any concrete examples from my own life. but maybe someone can....

Yes, for non-practitioners it's probably hard to picture how this actually works. My career was in the field of mental health counseling so my examples in a work setting might not be particularly pertinent.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Fri May 11, 2012 10:51 pm

Hey Jimyo

I'll skip my small plane and powered hang gliding stories before someone thinks meditation trumps the need for a pilots training & licence.

A couple of obvious ways that meditation is helpful in my job as a natural gas tech.

Meditation teaches one how to fully experience life's phenomena instead of following our usual tendencies to shut off those parts that make us feel uncomfortable or chase after those that we like. This allows a meditator to experience a much wider range of possibilities that our previous natural conditioning might have otherwise limited.

As a gas technician who enters people's homes to deal with natural gas heating problems, meditation can allow me to approach each human interaction with a more present and unconditioned attitude. When dealing with my customers from such a meditative attitude, they notably act as if they recognize they've been fully seen & heard. Adversarial attitudes find little room for fruition. Everyone gets to experience some shared validation of our inherent worth in the exchange.

When dealing with mechanical problems with a meditative attitude, problem solving evolves from a broader view that is un hindered by preconceived notions and history. The logical sequential steps of analysis are neither skipped or compromised by one's expectations or fears. The narrow focus of ones mechanical needs also include the often ignored but pertinent wider field they fit within. Hand/eye co ordination needs are not just manifesting as an isolated action but are also experienced for their real time participation in the larger picture.

This is really how the equanimity that arises from a meditative practise can help with the social and personal needs presented by my job.

A gas technicians short version of "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance".

Cheers

H
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Sat May 12, 2012 5:00 am

Thank you Howard. Interesting, and can be easily compared (I hope) to the social and human issues encountered in the cockpit - dealing with passengers, co-pilots etc. Great! But I would like to hear your flying stories too!!!

Anyone else? First person preferred for quotes if possible, ie I did this and when that happened I found that....etc. Just makes it more immediate in a magazine article; nothing wrong with other ways. I can change it of course, but I do pride myself on not changing people's words!
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Mia



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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Sat May 12, 2012 8:04 am

As a fellow writer I can sympathise Jimyo! Feel free to use any of this and edit/quote as you see fit. PM if you need any further personal details. You may wish to delete the clay pigeon bit Very Happy
____

My shooting and crazy golf skills have improved immeasurably since starting to meditate regularly :-) I am one with the clay pigeon Very Happy Learning to ignore the inevitable self-doubt or egotism, and getting on with the task at hand, is like training a muscle. It's what we practice in meditation, and that mental practice turned out to have a direct effect on physical co-ordination. This isn't hugely surprising if you consider that the body and mind are not separate.

When I'm shooting, for example, it feels like I'm locking into the target. Everything else fades away and even at a far distance it's become much easier to make a connection with the target. Other meditation "side effects" that help this happen are that even when the environment is in flux, I've learned to tune into a calm centre somewhere inside. The heart rate slows, and therefore the hand and eye is steadier and more confident. It's almost as if they drive themselves once you get your ego out of the way. I'm certainly not claiming to be ego-less! Rather that it's possible to be aware of it and yet disregard it, if only for a short period of time.

Meditation has also helped me in confrontational situations and sports. Previously I'd be terrified and had all sorts of avoidance tactics lined up. But in meditation you learn to sit with some very uncomfortable things, and to face up to your situation whatever it may be. Turning away is not an option. This mental state has directly translated to 'meeting' difficult or sudden situations and people. I was surprised to find that meeting things head on had a very positive effect. Turning away was the far more frightening and complicated option.
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Sat May 12, 2012 11:04 am

Great stuff Mia; I can definitely use some of that!

Any more gratefully received. As I said, I'll be away from early tomorrow so don't expect any comments, but I'll definitely be looking in on my return in two weeks or so.
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Sat May 12, 2012 11:41 am

Jimyo,

One example that might be pertinent is derived from when I worked as a crisis intervention and psychiatric commitment specialist for a public mental health agency. In that capacity I handled psychiatric emergencies where in some cases the client was presenting with behaviors that were dangerous to others or to him/herself. It was my job to intervene, sometimes working with police, to prevent injury and to arrange for a client/patient to be hospitalized. In such cases I might easily be flooded with anxiety about critical outcomes of death or injury, and for my own safety. My meditation practice helped me let anxious thoughts and feelings go on by while my attention focused on being present to the present moment and move with the task at hand and the patient in crisis, to facilitate and calm the situation, and bring it to resolution. I should think making quick assessments, facing danger, centering in calm in the midst of anxious thoughts and emotions, and focusing on tasks to bring resolution, are all pertinent to aviation or many occupations.
Bill
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Sat May 12, 2012 12:22 pm

Hi Jimyo,

I will ditto Bill. There are some very emotionally volatile and sometimes physically threatening events in a residential facility for troubled teens. There is no doubt that meditation practice has allowed me to navigate those troubled waters in a much more centered manner. Like you, I think I don't even see much of what happens in those instances as "meditation." It has just become more natural because of meditation to not be thrown off center as easily in those circumstances. They are just things that arise and pass and I guess we've learned to some extent over the years through practice that they are just that.
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Sat May 12, 2012 4:02 pm

Henry wrote:
Hi Jimyo,

They are just things that arise and pass and I guess we've learned to some extent over the years through practice that they are just that.

Precisely.. and those of us who have learned to bring our practice into life, may take it for granted, because it is something we don't have to think about. But the formation in formal practice and integrating it into life is something I have come to be grateful for these many years, in my professional work, in my relationships, being present to the present moment, being able to keep attention to the central intention of each moment, may have become habitual and ceaseless. What, in fact, we may find most jarring, is when we are not doing our practice, and with it the disturbance that arises from being thrown and off balance, captivated by thoughts and emotions.

Perhaps like me, you may have found that the mental health/therapeutic profession is a most excellent venue to bring contemplative practice.
Bill
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:56 am

Greetings again, and sorry to have 'disappeared' for so long. In the last month or so I've been to St Petersburg, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Brussels, and....Hay-on-Wye. Now finally catching up on work, and just wrote the article which prompted this thread, "Helicopter Flying and Meditation". Thanks again to everyone who contributed. It made things a lot easier, and I've quoted some of you at length. The ones I haven't quoted were simply because they didn't happen to fit perfectly into what I wanted to say, but thanks to them too.

I can't put the article on here as it hasn't been published yet and I think HeliNews would be most upset! But if anyone who contributed (or indeed anyone else) wants to read it, drop me a message with an email address and I'll send it to you. It's pretty basic, mind, don't expect to learn anything new!

Otherwise you can hopefully read it in the magazine around...August I think. But it's a subscription only Australian mag, so asking me might be easier.
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:06 am

Got an email from the editor this morning saying the article was "Perfect" and will be in the next issue. So well done everyone!
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:26 pm

This article has now been published, and my copy has made its way over from Australia, which usually takes about a month. I quoted some of you, and it actually reads rather well (though I say it myself), so many thanks to you all. If anyone wants to get hold of a copy, it's an Australian magazine called "HeliNews"; I can find an address for them if anyone is interested. It's subscription only, but I'm sure you could buy one copy if you wanted to.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:51 am

Congratulations on your publication!
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:31 am

Jimyo -- I wonder if your article could run in other publications like Tricycle or Shambhala Sun? Whether you could sell it or share it with any other publication or HeliNews could license it to another magazine? I can put you in touch with the editors of both American magazines if this is something that you and or HeliNews might be interested in. Both Tricycle and Shambhala Sun are non-profit publications, but they might be able to pay a fee for an article like this. Also, Shambhala Sun is launching a new magazine called MINDFUL. This might work for that also. Something to consider.
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Help requested for article on meditation and practical skills   Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:11 am

Josh, thanks for the thought, but this article is too aviation orientated as it is for any other market. I could adapt it, but it would involve almost a total re-write, which right now I don't have time to do.

In any case, HeliNews has exclusive use for a year (though I suspect they wouldn't object to a totally non-competing market). After that, as with all my other articles, it'll probably go to at least one of the other aviation publications I write for. Most of my stuff gets published two or even three times; then I often put them in an ebook as a collection too! I write regularly for four magazines and occasionally for others, so I do a lot of this sort of recycling.

So...I don't think it would work. Still...a new version is something to be considered.... Thank you for thinking of me, no thanks for now, but if I think of a way I'll certainly be in touch.
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