such an organization exists

Notes for a young character designer

Dear E. 

Thanks for your email.

I don’t work at Cartoon Network any more. But I’m going to give you a very quick portfolio review in hopes that you find it helpful! Here are some things I noticed when looking at your stuff - lessons I learned from brilliant people while working on AT for two years: 

 1) AVOID SYMMETRY. Humans are organic, randomly shaped animals. Perfect symmetry rarely exists in nature and if it does, it’s conspicuous - it’s the exception rather than the rule. Find interesting ways to throw your characters off-balance. 

Don’t repeat objects in twos - (buttons or rips or whatever) - it feels prescribed - cluster things in threes or fives if necessary. 

 2) AVOID CONCAVITY - I don’t know what else to call this. But it’s those lines that go “in” rather than “out”. You are using inward sloping lines to describe many of your characters. As an exercise, try using outward, rounded, voluminous lines to draw EVERYTHING. Humans are fleshy lumps connected together by other fleshy lumps. Each mass is either in front of or behind other masses and as a designer, it’s your job to tell the animator where it is. As a designer, you are providing a technical blueprint for the location of masses. 

Only occasionally allow a concavity to connect two convexities. Look at the work of Robert Ryan Cory (spongebob), Tom Herpich (Adventure Time) or Phil Rynda (AT / Gravity Falls) - master character designers - for examples of this. If you need to, trace a couple of their drawings and you will see what I mean. 

 3) AVOID GRAPHIC DETAILS - Some shows use a graphic style; it’s very appealing and looks clever when done right. But in animation, everything needs to move in space - so if you use a graphic element - it needs to correspond with an actual 3D thing that can move. Therefore it is better to start with a voluminous style and then revert to graphic elements where appropriate. Art directors will look for this. Do not jump straight to graphic representation if you do not yet know what you are representing.

Look at the work of Tiffany Ford and Jasmin Lai for amazing examples of volume expressed graphically.

 4) STUDY JAMES MCMULLEN - To truly understand volume, and fully respect your subject, you should read very carefully High Focus Figure Drawing by James McMullen. Slow down and think about drawing “around” your subjects. It’s a truly meditative experience when you get there. Think about the weight and mass that your characters, props and effects are experiencing. Many students from SVA - Tomer Hanuka, Becky Cloonan, Rebecca Sugar, James Jean - studied under McMullen’s philosophy and you can see this common richness in their work. 

Jeffrey Smith, a top student of McMullen’s now teaches life drawing at Art Center. These are two of the best illustration schools in North America - anyone who is interested in drawing living things, should probably read his book. Also look at the work of Andy Ristaino or Danny Hynes - two other character designers’ whose work is seething with volume. 

I hope this is useful and I hope you have a wonderful career. 

Warmest,

Matt

2

The complete list of American cities where neo-Nazis are known to operate

  • The number of neo-Nazi and other radical right-wing hate groups increased during Trump’s ascent to power, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • From 2015 to 2016, the number of hate groups rose from 892 to 917, as fringe groups worked their way into the mainstream through Trump, whom white nationalists see as an ally to their cause.
  • Of those 917 hate groups, 99 of them are classified as neo-Nazi organizations, according to the SPLC’s Hate Map. 
  • They exist all across the country, and cities both big and small have experienced neo-Nazi and white nationalist activity.

Here is a complete list of cities home to neo-Nazi groups, according to the SPLC:

  • Alabama
    • Cullman
  • Arizona
    • Phoenix
    • Tucson
  • California
    • Los Angeles
    • Mountain View
    • Santa Cruz
    • Santa Monica
  • Colorado
    • Denver
  • Florida
    • Brandon
    • Orlando
  • Georgia
    • Villa Rica
  • Illinois
    • Bloomington
    • Canton
    • Lyons
    • Taylorville
    • Wood River
  • Indiana
    • Indianapolis
    • Warsaw
  • Iowa
    • Amana
  • Kentucky
    • Louisville
  • Louisiana
    • Converse
  • Maryland
    • Baltimore
  • Massachusetts
    • Cambridge
    • Lowell
  • Michigan
    • Detroit
    • Grand Rapids
    • Westland
    • Wyandotte
  • Missouri
    • Grovespring
    • St. Louis
  • Nebraska
    • Fairbury
    • Lincoln
  • Nevada
    • Carson City
    • Las Vegas
  • New York
    • Astoria
    • New York City
  • North Carolina
    • Asheville
    • Charlotte
    • Raleigh
  • Ohio
    • Columbus
    • Worthington
  • Pennsylvania
    • Philadelphia
    • Pittsburgh
  • South Dakota
    • Rapid City
  • Tennessee
    • Laurel Bloomery
    • Nashville
  • Texas
    • Austin
    • Dallas
    • San Antonio
    • Wichita Falls
  • Vermont
    • Burlington
  • Washington
    • Seattle
    • Spokane
  • West Virginia
    • Hillsboro
  • Wisconsin
    • Milwaukee
  • There are also a number of statewide neo-Nazi groups that are not affiliated with a specific city. In addition to the states listed above, there are statewide groups based in Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. Read more (2/27/17 2:12 PM)

anonymous asked:

I'm sorry for asking this and I feel really ignorant, but why do you suggest volunteering at soup kitchens as part of political action? I mean obviously it's a good thing to do but I guess I don't really see how it connects to political progress, maybe because I'm new to politics. Sorry to bother you 😬

Mutual Aid, or Dual Power, has long been a major (and underrated) aspect of radicalism.  By focusing on the needs of the working class at a time when the government is ignoring them, radicals show people that they don’t need to rely on the charity of the government, on the well wishings of the rich, that the working class can help itself.  In a time when the welfare state is being destroyed, coming together and feeding each other, clothing each other, helping each other not out of guilt but out of solidarity is not only deeply necessary, to prevent people from being hurt, from dying, from going without food, is desperately important.

But, organizationally and internally to the left, mutual aid is also very important because it keeps us grounded in day to day issues.  A protest comes, happens, and disappears the next day, and it might have succeeded it might have failed but the complete focus on these actions can lead to self serving organizational perspectives that center just on these actions.  Replace “actions” with “elections” and you have the perspective of political parties.  Getting really organized requires a day to day interaction between people in our alienated society.  You look at the history of syndicalism (radical unionism, related to anarchism) and you’ll see in the background of most of these organizations the existence of a massive network of mutual aid organizations.

Beyond this, historically dual-power and mutual aid, in showing that the working class can help itself, shows the possibility of a world based not on capitalist accumulation but on people serving each other’s needs.

What we mean when we talk about autism acceptance

There are two fundamental ways of viewing disability in relation to society: the social model of disability and the medical model of disability. Supporters of the medical model of disability says “autistic people don’t fit into our society, so we must fix autistic people” while supporters of the social model of disability says “autistic people don’t fit into our society, so we must fix society.” People who advocate for autism acceptance support the social model of disability.

The two models of disability comes down to one basic question - do we need to change individual people so that they can fit into our current society, or do we need to change society so that it becomes inclusive of and available to the many neurodivergent and disabled people who are currently left on the sidelines? It’s not enough to be aware of autism if you still see autistic people as mistakes to be fixed, which is why we support autism acceptance instead of autism awareness. Most people in the western world are aware that autism exists - but what does it matter that we’re aware of the existence of autism if we don’t use that awareness to accept and include autistic people for who they are?

We object to the idea that autistic brains are “wrong” and “bad”. We object to the idea that having an autistic brain is inherently negative. We object to the idea that autistic brains should be fixed. We support neurodiversity - the idea that autism and other developmental disorders and neurodivergences aren’t mistakes, but that they are natural variations of human neurology which should be embraced and accepted and acknowledged for their unique contributions. Neurodiversity is the belief that neurodivergent brains don’t need to be fixed or corrected, but that they’re a natural and important part of human diversity.

We object to the idea that autism should be cured. Instead of focusing on fixing and curing individual autistic people, we should dedicate our money and our activism and our energy to changing society so that autistic people can get the support and accommodations they need to live happy, fulfilling lives as autistic people.

This April - April is autism awareness month - you should take a stand against the medical model of disability and its fear-mongering cure rhetoric. Take a stand against Autism Speaks and their “awareness” and their use of words such as “broken”, “dangerous”, “epidemic”, “tragic” and “missing.” Listen to autistic people instead of listening to the words of organizations whose goal is that we shouldn’t exist, that we shouldn’t be a part of the future. Listen to autistic people instead. We don’t want to be fixed. We don’t want to be cured. We want to be a part of the future. We want to be accommodated and accepted for who we are instead of being eradicated and changed. This April, spread the word of autism acceptance, neurodiversity and the social model of disability. This April, stand with autistic people. We need your support.

Foreshadowing from Steven’s Dream

The foreshadowed moment of Greg’s abduction leads me to wonder whether other details about the movie they watched are also relevant. 

“They only kidnapped cows because they needed milk for their cereal planet.”

And we already know that the gems are running low on resources and their planet is starving. Perhaps, as I’ve been suggesting for a very long time now, the key is to work together. In the same way cereal and milk are complements, the end goal might really be for organic and gem life to co-exist to make a delicious breakfast.

Advanced English Adjectives 3

Ebullient - cheerful and full of energy

Myopic - Short-sighted

Imperturbable - Unable to be upset or excited; calm

Lugubrious - Looking or sounding sad and dismal

Ersatz - (of a product) made or used as a substitute, typically an inferior one, for something else

Lapidary -  (of language) elegant and concise, and therefore suitable for engraving on stone

Perfidious - Deceitful and untrustworthy

Desultory - Lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.

Nascent - (especially of a process or organization) Just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential

Erudite - Having or showing great knowledge or learning

Licentious - Promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters.

Florid - Having a red or flushed complextion; Excessively intricate or elaborate

Glib - (of words or a speaker) Fluent but insincere and shallow

Bombastic - High-sounding but with little meaning; Inflated

Austere - Severe or strict in manner or attitude

Wan - (of a person’s complexion or appearance) Pale and giving the impression of illness or exhaustion

8

“Don’t be like me. Salvation doesn’t lie within four walls. I’m too serious to be a dilettante and too much a dabbler to be a professional. Even the most miserable life is better than a sheltered existence in an organized society where everything is calculated and perfected.”

La Dolce Vita (1960) dir. Federico Fellini

280 days of Urbpandemonium #154

When someone asks, as they always eventually do, “why do mosquitoes exist?,” they’re really asking another hidden question. Because mosquitoes exist for the same reason all organisms exist: evolution provided adaptations to fit the available energy sources. Blood-suckers suck blood because blood is a liquid that can be sucked–the alternative is flesh-eating. Which is worse?

The hidden question is this “Is the natural world in balance?” The answer of course is no. Humans have proved to be so adaptable in such a short time, that we have thrown the entirety of the rest of the natural world out of kilter. We have spread to every corner of the globe, bringing our food animals with us. We have created vast climate-controlled structures to live in. We have dug deep into the earth to find energy trapped in hydrocarbons that have held onto it for millions of years, and released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that we have changed the atmosphere and climate of the planet forever.

One of the most mundane activities of humans–the selling of goods between one land mass and another–has resulted in the spread of mosquitoes. In prehistory the mosquitoes would have lived in balance with their predators–the mosquitoes pushing their hosts gently toward fitness, the predators keeping them at a tolerable level. Moving mosquitoes around the world has brought these biting flies to land masses that never had them before, and brought multiple species to places that used to have only a few species. The shiploads of tires and other mosquito-moving industries did not bring along the predators of the mosquitoes. We ask too much of our native bats and dragonflies–there are simply too many exotic mosquitoes for natural controls to retake the balance.

The result is blood-borne diseases in North America bearing the names of regions in Africa. The result is the almost complete destruction of Hawaain bird diversity. The result is mosquitoes that bite in the daytime, that breed in dumpsters and dirty gutters, in densities that mock the equilibrium of the past. Why are there mosquitoes? Because there is blood to drink. Why are there so many god damned mosquitoes? Because human activity creates and destroys habitat in a way that rarely makes the world a better place.

Mosquito=little fly
Mosquito family Culicidae=family of little flies

anonymous asked:

Does the word "shellfish" annoy you since shellfish aren't fish? Does it bother you when people call orcas "killer whales" when they're dolphins? Because it bothers me even though I only have a high school level understanding of Biology I wanted to know if it was just me...

Hmm I think I used to, but now not so much, and I’ll tell you why.

Common or colloquial names vary so much within and between localities and languages that we shouldn’t expect the same kind of stringency we hold to real scientific names and groupings. The point of a name is to convey information, and in certain contexts an informal and not necessarily biologically accurate common name is suitable to convey relevant information to a wide group of people within a certain locality. Bird common names are particularly bad, for example an american blackbird is not closely related to the eurasian blackbird at all, and in addition there are about 26 (not necessarily related) species called blackbirds found in the Americas. However, if you are sitting in your garden in the UK and you hear a blackbird, you don’t need to differentiate between that and the 26 American birds to know that what you are hearing is Turdus merula. Common names are perfectly acceptable in the right context. 

Now, shellfish is a handy and historically well established culinary term for basically any edible marine invertebrate. I don’t think it would be necessary to have to start saying bivalve chowder, linguine with marine invertebrates, or decapod tempura just for the sake of scientific accuracy. The term is specific to English too - in latin based languages such as French, Spanish, and Italian etc., the same group of animals are referred to under the umbrella term of “Fruits of the Sea”. We know they are not fruits, and I’m sure (or I at least hope) that most people know that “shellfish” are not actually fish, however, as the title of my favourite podcast goes, there’s No Such Thing As A Fish - this is because the group of animals that we would call fish, is a paraphyletic group - which in terms of biological semantics, doesn’t exist.

 Basically, a paraphyletic group is a group of organisms including the latest common ancestor, but not including all descendants. Below in yellow are the groups that we would typically refer to as “fish”, however this excludes amphibians, and other land vertebrates etc., which are nested in the fish family tree. In fact, humans are more closely related to ray finned fish (such as salmon etc.) than ray finned fish are to sharks, yet the term fish removes this information. 

The proper, monophyletic groupings (ancestor and all descendants), which retains such information are displayed below for contrast, but you don’t need to say that you are going Osteichthyes-ing when you are going on a fishing trip. 

We basically use the word fish to refer to non air-breathing marine vertebrates with that share general habitats and ecologies, which is a useful word to have. For example don’t need to have a different, scientifically accurate term for overfishing for each fishy group, that would weaken the meaning of terminology for the action of overfishing, and make conservation policy and public outreach more difficult. Overfishing as a word is easy to understand, and in this context, it gets the job done, whether you are a biologist, a policy maker, a fisherman, or an average joe. 

SO scientifically, even the word fish to begin with is problematic! But such semantics aren’t necessary for everyday life, and thus the word fish still has value. It’s widespread usage is simply historical leftover from when the word fish basically meant anything living in the sea (shellfish, starfish, jellyfish) -  even the word dolphin comes from the latin for fish with a womb, which leads me onto your next example…

And guess what, there’s no such thing as a dolphin - yes, it is yet again another paraphyletic group. The common term dolphin excludes porpoises and other small toothed whales which are nested within classical dolphin groups, i.e. the superfamily, Delphinoidea. 

But, like fish, dolphin is still a handy term to refer to a specific type of cetacean, so it’s not going to stop being used. 

The important thing to remember is that all dolphins are whales. There are two major sub orders within Cetacea, the Mysticeti, or baleen whales such as humpback, blue, grey, minke etc. - i.e what we would typically think of as whales. However, there are also the Odontoceti, the toothed whales, which includes sperm whales, beaked whales, river dolphins, oceanic dolphins, porpoises, beluga whales, and narwhals. If the term whale is understood not to include dolphins then it becomes a paraphyletic group. Even though an Orca is part of the oceanic Dolphin family Delphinidae (which also includes bottle nosed dolphins, common dolphins etc.), it is still technically a whale. ADDITIONALLY the name killer whale may be due to a mistranslation of their 18th century Spanish name, asesina-ballenas which literally translates as whale killer as indeed, Orcas will hunt baleen whales. 

Anyway the point is, at the end of the day, if the right information is conveyed by a common or informal name within the context of day to day life, scientific semantics are unnecessary. Lol, following that logic to the extreme would mean that the name seahorse is wrong. Of course it would be cool if people knew more about cetacean taxonomy, or took an interest in marine invertebrates, but I don’t think that enforcing correct nomenclature is central to doing that. Most of the time these terms are simply just the name for a thing, disassociated from any greater meaning - I would still use the words shellfish in a restaurant, or the word starfish or jellyfish etc. and I am currently studying marine invertebrates!

And hey, then next time those terms come up in conversation you could always use that opportunity to crack open a few fun facts about how orcas are part of the dolphin family, and that all dolphins are whales, or that the prawn and clam on your plate are not related to each other, or to that can of tuna in your cupboard.

The signs are more stagnant, passive planes of energy whereas the planets are more active vehicles of it. The planets operate through the signs, but something that is frequently disregarded (on Tumblr) is the fact that the signs also operate through the planets – they have to, or else they would solely be, and in quite a bland, distant sense. Following this concept, dignity & debility should be understood as affecting both the planet and the sign involved.

Domicile means “home.”
Planets in their ruling sign are at home, in their natural habitat; they can exist freely, organically, without intrinsic nor extrinsic tension/resistance. Signs that possess their ruling planet are granted the perfect opportunity to present themselves in us & in the world – their planet provides a safe, comfortable platform for manifestation, and they are fountains of energy in the chart, free-flowing due to being built on something they understand and own and are.

Detriment means “harm” or “impairment.”
Planets in the opposite of their ruling sign are lost, damaged by the strain of trying to express themselves through the lack of ease, acceptance, or stability. There’s a disadvantage, a struggle due to discomfort. Signs that possess the ruling planet of their opposites are not equipped with the proper capacity or space they need to function well, or even normally. The planet doesn’t get along with them, so there can be a bit of chaos or lack of direction involved in their manifestation. There is no secure path; they have to draw their own, and it will only work if they learn to cooperate & genuinely converge with the planet.

Exaltation means “honor.”
Exalted planets & signs are raised to their highest possible power, ennobled, given the space and dynamism to stand proudly as the best versions of themselves. They are both optimized and elevated, in an energetic and archetypal sense; there is no holding them back because they have everything they need to be everything they are in the strongest, most effective, most influential, and most engaged way they can manage. They’ve been “charged” so to speak, and they’re ready to manifest to the fullest.

Fall means “defeat.”
Fallen planets & signs are devastated, shrunken and belittled, exhausted; they are weak and small, with the life sucked out of them by the challenges they face. They’re crushed because they have been thrust into struggles they were not prepared for. They aren’t allowed to rest; it’s perpetual strife, constant effort poured into a seemingly futile cause. Existence drains them because they’re pitifully unready and poorly poised; they lack the force to pull through to the other side on their own, so they will end up being dragged.

anonymous asked:

What are some hurdles a person who has practiced taekwondo, fencing and aikido might have to jump when thrown into a real life or death fight? What will happen when they get much better at escalating quickly (almost too quickly) and they're thrown into a situation where that's the opposite of what they need to do?

By, “the opposite of what they need to do,” you mean, not escalate the situation, or specifically work to try to limit the harm being inflicted. You know, like an Aikido practitioner?

I know we’ve said this before, but; martial arts are not interchangeable. They’re not just alternate move sets, or aesthetic considerations. Every martial art, every one, brings its own philosophies and outlooks into play. When those philosophies overlap, you might have options to start mixing them together, or lifting elements from one for the other. Aikido and Taekwondo don’t really have much of anything to talk about.

Aikido is a martial art of pacifism. It works well for self defense because the entire idea is, you stand at the center, plant your feet, and send anyone who attacks you to the floor, so they can think about all of the mistakes they just made.

As I said at the beginning, Aikido doesn’t escalate, at least not on its own. This is a martial art that focuses on ending conflicts with as little harm done as humanly possible. People will get hurt, that’s an inevitability, but, this is a martial art that is heavily focused on avoiding escalation.

If you want to start mixing it with something else, there are other martial arts that have common ground. Jujitsu and Judo both have some of the same philosophical underpinnings, they’re just pretty sure that plopping someone on the ground isn’t enough to get the message across, that sometimes you’re going to want to get down there and make your point in person.

There are even aggressive martial arts that you can (probably) mix Aikido with fairly effectively, including Muay Thai or Krav Maga. Martial arts that say, “I want to get really close to someone and turn them into goulash.” They do have common ground on the ranges that they think combat should be taking place at.

Taekwondo doesn’t. It’s a very active martial art. It wants to go places and kick people in the head. As a practical martial style it shares almost nothing with Aikido. Where Aikido wants its foes close enough to reach out and touch, Taekwondo is all about forcing your foes away, and keeping them off balance while you drive your foot through any internal organs they were using.

Taekwondo exists as a practical martial art, but you’re going to be hard pressed to find that variant outside of Korea. If your character served in the South Korean military, worked for the police or as a bodyguard there, then it’s possible they learned this.

Taekwondo traditionally pairs with Hapkido. I don’t know much about the martial art itself, beyond that it has a focus on joint locks. But, these are designed to work together, and against one another, so a practitioner in one would probably also learn the other.

Ironically, Taekwondo can also find common ground with martial arts like Muay Thai or Krav Maga. These are all martial arts that enjoy moving around a lot and messing people up. Where Taekwondo excels at doing this at range, Muay Thai or Krav Maga offer options to do this up close.

Now, if you’re sitting there and wondering why I just listed the same two martial arts as compatible to both of the ones you picked, that’s because they have common ground with one another, the two you picked, really kind of don’t. It’s not that martial artists never learn conflicting styles. That does happen. But the benefit you gain from that isn’t being able to blend them together into a single style, it’s being able to switch up your approach to fit the situation you’re in. And, yes, escalation control is an element of your martial art.

A character who’s been trained in Aikido and (practical) Taekwondo, would be in a very good position to work as a bodyguard. Taekwondo allows for rapid vicious responses when called for, and Aikido allows for them to deal with attackers in public situations where you really wouldn’t want a bodyguard tearing apart an overly eager fan.

I’m just going to toss this one out, but fencing really doesn’t add much to this situation. It will help with physical conditioning, but then again they’d already be getting that from Taekwondo and Aikido.

So, if your character’s been training in Aikido, either recreationally or practically, they shouldn’t be having issues with escalation. Remember, escalation is where you increase the amount of force you use to a point where combat ceases to be an appealing option for your opponent. The entire concept is anathema to Aikido, which seeks to end combat with as little violence as possible.

Also, there’s a side nitpick, it’s not really possible to escalate too quickly. The issue is escalating too far. Again, the idea is that you demonstrate a degree of violence your opponent isn’t psychologically ready to handle, forcing them to back down.

Escalating too slowly can give them time to come to terms with what you’re doing, but the only problem with escalating too quickly is that you’ll use excessive force. For example, grabbing someone by the skull and gouging out their eyes would (almost certainly) convince their friends or allies to back down, but if the situation doesn’t warrant that kind of force, it’s excessive, you’ve escalated too far, and there will be consequences. These can be the obvious legal issues associated with extreme violence, or it can provoke responses in opponents where, instead of backing down, they’ll be more willing to retaliate in kind. For example, pulling a gun on someone’s friend might get them to back down, where killing their friend will drive them to come after you, where they wouldn’t have with less escalation.

The problems faced by a character who escalates too far is, that they’ll make far more enemies, which will eventually catch up with them. This is part of why escalation is such a tricky concept. It’s requires a substantial amount of finesse to pull off effectively.

Escalation is also something that is seriously frowned on by most of the recreational martial arts community. Unnecessary, and excessive violence is a serious liability issue for the school, particularly if their students are children (and, honestly, that’s pretty common.) A large part of this is because of the exact problem you’re describing. The actual difficulty is about going too far. It’s not hard to go way too far in an instant, that happens all the time. But, unless your character is operating with some kind of “above-the-law” protections, going too far once is a good way to end up spending the next 25 years in a small cell.

-Starke

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Lesson 20: Intro to Meditation

By: Admin Bridge

EDIT:  You should absolutely never take medication for the purpose of meditation. It can be very unhealthy and you should never take medication for any reason other than the purpose it was created unless told differently by a doctor.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room - Meditation is hard. Unless you were blessed with the ability to clear your mind at will, you aren’t going to get it on the first try. So if you’re one of the people who can do it without issue, good on you! But if you’re not, you are one of many people, so don’t feel bad about it. It can depend largely on your technique, and your understanding of the word ‘meditation’.

Many people portray meditation as sitting in nature, completely silent, controlling every breath, levitating off the ground…

Well, maybe not that last one, but the first three for sure. But, by definition, that’s not what meditation is. Meditation is just “deep thinking”, which can be used for more than just calming the mind, and performed in more than one way. Sometimes I use it for grounding, and getting myself pumped up, rather than winding down. I also use it for just listening to my thoughts, because I tend to ignore them in my daily life, even the really important ones, so it’s a lot of self discovery. But regardless of what you’re using it for, it still requires thinking, as much as the Meditation Guru on youtube tries to tell you otherwise.

If you’ve ever tried a guided meditation on Youtube, you’ll probably notice that most get you to visualize a peaceful scene, like a beach or a forest. Or whatever specific thing you’re doing the meditation for, whether it’s grounding, cleansing your chakras, or healing your light body. Whatever it is, it highly relies on visualization. A lot of people find this a lot easier to do, but then after they use them, they still can’t figure out how to meditate on their own, without a video to help them. That’s perfectly fine! You don’t need to be able to meditate on your own, but if you’re like me, and would prefer to be able to do it whenever, keep on reading.

I can’t speak for everyone, but while I enjoy the help in figuring out what to visualize, I find it’s not the right pacing for me. I want to go-go-go, and the guided meditations often speak very slowly, and take hours to complete. Even the “short” ones, which are around thirty minutes lose my interest, which is another reason why I prefer doing it on my own. Why guided meditations don’t work for you could be for any number of small reasons - the pacing, you don’t find a certain voice relaxing, you don’t connect with the imagery, you don’t like the background noises… whichever it is, it will take a lot of experimentation to find the perfect one. But I definitely recognize them for those starting out in meditation, it will at least give you a base to build off of, so you can personalize it.

There are several different ways to meditate, in terms of what you focus on, but I’m going to focus on six

The first few ways are pretty well known, so I won’t spend too much time on them, you can find information on them anywhere.

  • Perhaps the most well known is through feeling. Focusing on your breath - feeling how your chest rises and falls as you breathe, feeling the tingling in your hands and feet, feeling how your eyes feel, heavy or light, etc. Breathwork is a good way to follow this path, but requires a lot of concentration.
    • So what I do, when I can’t focus on my breath, is do little things - pinch the tip of my finger, rub my thumb over my knuckles, things like that. I focus on what exactly it feels like, which I never do just in general when I do the same actions. The only thing I notice about it is whether it hurts or not, which isn’t very descriptive. I try to think of enough words to describe it, to explain it to someone who has never done it before, before moving on to the next thing. I repeat until I realize I’m in a trance state.
      • But you could customize this in a bunch of ways - I’ve even put a clothespin on my finger and focused on that, and it worked well for me. Not quite pain, but enough of a distraction to keep my focus on one thing.
  • The second most common is visual. Like I mentioned above, visualizing that you’re on a beach, wading in the water - the negativity is washing off of you, and is swept far away, never to be seen again. This is also a good way of meditating, and the one I use mostly. 
    • My only recommendation for this, is to personalize it. I love beaches and forests as much as the next guy, but I find it far more rewarding to visualize myself dancing, as I am a dancer. Or sometimes swimming, or flying in space, whatever. But I choose something that interests me, that’s unique and memorable, or just something I enjoy. I often imagine things I’ve written coming to life, like a TV show.
  • The third I will mention is auditory, because while it isn’t exactly uncommon, it doesn’t get a lot of love compared to the first two. The most common ways of doing this is chants and mantras, ‘ohm’, ‘lam’, ‘vam’, etc. But you can find uncountable amounts of “meditation music” on youtube. I usually opt more towards normal music, trap, dubstep, cool jazz, but that’s what interests me, personally. Whatever resonates with you is going to be the one that works. And you don’t have to just listen to it, you can hum to yourself, or flat out sing if you want, or any other auditory filler that you want. Hell, it can be the sound of your dishwasher if that’s what relaxes you, monotone things often help.
  • The fourth is through smell! This is one I’m especially fond of, but can’t do much. I don’t like many scents, but there are some I just adore. Nothing too perfumy, but the smell of grass, rain, pine trees, etc, I love all of them. And smell often triggers memories, which is a whole other kind of meditation. But if there’s a nice scent around, I’m much more likely to slip into a trance state, but if it’s unpleasant, it will kill the mood instantly. So if you’re in a place where you can, experiment with that! Candles, incense, herbs (I love the smell of dried mint), perfume, flowers, whatever works. Just don’t burn your house down, please.
  • Then there’s disciplinary, which arguably, Meditation itself is. But yoga is another prominent one. I’m sure you could even do it while working out, if that’s your thing! As a dancer, I use meditation to help me with my stretches - if I breathe deeply and focus on something else, it doesn’t hurt as much when doing intense stretches. It’s just kind of a numb tingly feeling, that’s actually pretty pleasant. And the longer I can hold it, the better I feel. I’m sure there are other ways to customize this, so let me know what works for you!
  • And finally, ingestion of certain things. I’m not going to touch on the obvious, but you do you so long as it’s legal and perfectly safe.
    • For other things, all sorts of different foods and drinks could trigger it for different people.Water is an obvious one, that is recommended for almost everything in existence. And many agree that certain diets, especially organic and whole foods, can help.
    • Another common one would be caffeine, in things like coffee, or pops with caffeine in it. Coke, pepsi, etc, often either cause people to be very focused and very awake, or make them sleepy and unable to focus.
    • Certain medications can do the same, Tylenol, Gravol, and other types of headache and cold medicine that makes you drowsy, among other symptoms. And some vitamins and neuroenhancers can too, but as with everything else, be careful with this, don’t hurt yourself, and follow the instructions for ingestion closely. Don’t start popping acetaminophen because it helps you get into a trance state. And never, never, ever start taking something without consulting your doctor about it.

For people with racing thoughts - follow them. Seriously! A lot of meditations will tell you to clear your mind, and I know I just told you to focus on one thing, but daydreaming is literally a trance state, as much as any other type of meditation. Proven by science too, here and here. So if you can’t manage to focus your thoughts in… I’d give it around five to ten minutes, that’s usually between when most people start to calm down - then just try following where those thoughts lead. Thinking about what you need to get for groceries? Great. About how you need to do the laundry? Fantastic. Wondering if you left your stove on? Let’s hope not, maybe you should check before you keep meditating. But you get the point. It’s a trance, congratulations, you’re meditating! From here, you can start trying to do the above technique, which is hopefully much more successful now that you’re already in the right frame of mind.

And that’s the end for an introduction of meditation and clearing up misconceptions, and in the next one I’ll be detailing a generic meditation that works for most people. See you then!

6

Interviewer: But the question is more, how do you get there? Do you get there by confrontation, violence?

Davis: Oh, is that the question you were asking? Yeah see, that’s another thing. When you talk about a revolution, most people think violence, without realizing that the real content of any revolutionary thrust lies in the principles and the goals that you’re striving for, not in the way you reach them. On the other hand, because of the way this society’s organized, because of the violence that exists on the surface everywhere, you have to expect that there are going to be such explosions. You have to expect things like that as reactions. If you are a black person and live in the black community all your life and walk out on the street everyday seeing white policemen surrounding you… when I was living in Los Angeles, for instance, long before the situation in L.A ever occurred, I was constantly stopped. No, the police didn’t know who I was. But I was a black women and I had a natural and they, I suppose thought I might be “militant.”

And when you live under a situation like that constantly, and then you ask me, you know, whether I approve of violence. I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense at all. Whether I approve of guns.

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Some very, very good friends of mine were killed by bombs, bombs that were planted by racists. I remember, from the time I was very small, I remember the sounds of bombs exploding across the street. Our house shaking. I remember my father having to have guns at his disposal at all times, because of the fact that, at any moment, we might expect to be attacked. The man who was, at that time, in complete control of the city government, his name was Bull Connor, would often get on the radio and make statements like, “Niggers have moved into a white neighborhood. We better expect some bloodshed tonight.” And sure enough, there would be bloodshed. After the four young girls who lived, one of them lived next door to me…I was very good friends with the sister of another one. My sister was very good friends with all three of them. My mother taught one of them in her class. My mother—in fact, when the bombing occurred, one of the mothers of one of the young girls called my mother and said, “Can you take me down to the church to pick up Carol? We heard about the bombing and I don’t have my car.” And they went down and what did they find? They found limbs and heads strewn all over the place. And then, after that, in my neighborhood, all the men organized themselves into an armed patrol. They had to take their guns and patrol our community every night because they did not want that to happen again.

Angela Davis on violence and revolution (1972)

  • what she says: i'm fine
  • what she means: in the first episode of season two of rick and morty summer says there's mildew growing on jerry and beth but if time has been frozen for the last six months not only would mildew be unable to grow because growth requires the passage of time but there would be no point in vacuuming jerry and beth in the first place because dirt can't accumulate without time passing so either they were wasting their time with cleaning them and summer was lying about the mildew or the device rick used to freeze time only worked on things that had above some minimum number of atoms and if that's the case that means that single-cell organisms and other basic structures exist on a slightly separate plane from the rest of the universe

Capricorn the Late Bloomer

Capricorns are very much about soliciting their real place in the ‘real’ world. His gifts await in the realm of organization, pragmatism and ensuring efficiency found within the existing structures. Capricorns are a unique sign of the zodiac. This is partly courtesy of their curious tendency to ‘age backwards’. Considered ‘late bloomers’ in astrology, Capricorn people really burst into life when they can sit back and finally enjoy the revenue of many years of hard work. He wants to build something important in the world that stands as testimony to his dedication and effort, and becomes eternally illuminated when these projects finally see fruition. The comfort that comes with age is usually enough to free the Capricorn from his inborn feelings of responsibility, duty and unworthiness. By the time they are elders, Capricorns have the ability to really let go and delight in simple things in a childlike way.  

The Capricorn life is filled with many lessons leading to the attainment of will power. Their ruler, Saturn is a powerful ally that throws multiple, time consuming obstacles in his path, though Saturn, the alchemist always provides the promise of immeasurable success once these are overcome. The early life of the Capricorn seems harsh, with many conflicts arising not only with authority but also within himself. Typically reserved as children, he was scared of expressing his true feelings and emotions. Young Capricorns are eager to shoulder adult responsibilities and feel more comfortable around people older people, and will seek out friendships with people outside their peer group on purpose. Sometimes Capricorns only allows himself to express his inner child when he is almost too old to enjoy it.

In their 30’s, following the first Saturn Return, Capricorns finally begin to release hold of all the self imposed restrictions and limitations. He slowly allows himself to relax into life a little more and start growing into his own skin. The Capricorn youth can be plagued by the monologue of a vicious inner critic; the inner judge that is always quick to criticize and deliver a well timed reality check. As Capricorn ages, he learns to create that equally opposing voice. This is the voice that tells him how beautiful, intelligent and vital he truly is. With every birthday crossed off the years, the Capricorn becomes lighter, freer and truly blooms as the incandescent flower he is.

-Cherry