After walking away from martial arts in my early twenties, I experienced a ten-year blur of steady disillusionment and gradually lost focus.
My body changed, and I put on weight.
Eventually, my life seemed to swing so far out from any semblance of balance or control that I saw no way back. I unconsciously resolved to just live with the dissatisfaction and disharmony I felt.
It was from that lowly state that moving meditation seemed to sprout and branch, all on its own, from long-dormant elements of my previous martial arts experience.
I can think of three defining events that paved the way.
The first occurred when I was thirteen.
Back then, I’d inhale Kung Fu movies. Narrative wasn’t such a priority.
I remember watching a fairly typical Kung Fu movie one day in the living room. Near the end, I leaped to my feet and started making up all these random Kung-Fu-esque moves.
Glancing at my reflection in a nearby mirror, it seemed to me that whatever my body was intuitively coming up was about the same (or just as good) as what I saw onscreen.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of fight-scene elements used in Kung Fu films are completely made up on the spot. The same could be true of katas or forms in traditional martial arts, since many of the formal moves are never taught as techniques to practice or use.
The second defining moment occurred when I was seventeen.
Staying at a friend’s house one night, I tried marijuana for the first time.
Something I can still clearly remember from that first high experience was this amazing physical sensation . . . sort of like a pulse or surge that flowed rhythmically throughout my entire body. It felt like each part of me was attached to the connected, moving components of some invisible, transcendent machine.
The third defining moment happened when I was thirty.
I’d long since given up on martial arts, health, fitness, balance, myself…
Then I was prescribed medical marijuana for a breathing problem.
After using some marijuana one night, I began to feel that same rhythmic, all-encompassing physical texture surging through my body. Letting myself go with each pulse and vibration, I felt like an inflatable-tube man in a car lot being pushed about by blowing air.
Then something clicked.
Suddenly, it was as though the very core or spirit of all my previous martial arts experience was flashing out through my body once again. In some ways, what had been rigidly, formally ingrained now felt limitless and free.
Ten years after having given up on martial arts, it was as though something else was using my body to bring me back.
A few months later, I was alone at work one night. After setting up my phone in the branches of a nearby leafy office plant, I used some marijuana and started moving.
The next day, I showed my wife the video I’d made. We had a good laugh. But I was amazed by how it had felt in the moment.
Here’s a blurry picture from that first video:
About a year later, I was home from work one day. I vaporized some marijuana and made a little video on my laptop of myself moving in the kitchen.
The camera also caught the huge smile on my face when I was done. That was when I knew that this could actually be something.
I immediately pulled out all the little notebooks and emails to myself where I’d jotted down thoughts about what moving meditation could be. I started putting all those thoughts together, and they eventually became this book.
I kept making little videos here and there.
By June, 2014, I was ready to share my experience. Since I didn’t want how I was moving to be affected by anything, I bought a selection of colorful masks to wear while making videos. I share more about that mindset (wanting complete freedom) in the last section, A mask.
So, I’ve been asked if I’m high when I practice moving meditation.
Many say that marijuana can enhance experiences and creative abilities. Perhaps it can help us to appreciate those sorts of things, but I don’t believe marijuana is needed to enjoy the same experiences or to create the same way.
That conviction only grows stronger as more time goes by.
Still, I’m truly thankful for marijuana as an initial source of inspiration. It helped me to appreciate the experience of moving meditation enough to pursue and even share it, which is what we’ll be looking at next.