meditation and spiritual growth

When I was four years old I thought that the world was created just for me.  After all, my mother instantly attended to my every wish and desire.

We played hopscotch and tinker toys.  I got my meals on time and slept when I was tired.  She made funny faces and we always giggled together.  Mom held me close and kept me warm.  She comforted me when I was sick and cheered me up with that wonderful smile of hers when I was blue.

Ah, life was bliss … or so I thought.  But then things started to change.

Well, my pesky baby sister came along and my world was turned upside down.  That was the start of it.  Yep, that’s for sure.  No longer the center of attention, I was nudged out and increasingly left to fend for myself.  All alone, what kind of world was this?

Then I went to Kindergarten and was rudely awakened by the presence of a bunch of others kids just like me.  We were all clamoring for the teacher’s attention.  And Miss McGillicutty was a nice and gentle soul, but there was not quite enough of her to go around for the lot of us.

Well, at the age of eight I started to sprout up like a tree and kept on growing until I was nineteen.  I played football and went swimming a lot.

Middle school and then high school was OK, but I didn’t find anything to catch my fancy.  It all seemed a bit boring and made no sense to me; all those facts and figure and dates.  For what?

My dad said, “Alberto my son, when are you going to take an interest in life and make something of yourself?”  And I always replied, “when the sun stands on its ear it will be interesting enough to take a liking to.

The initial thrill of life had long lost its luster for me.  I always thought, “Is this all there is?

I enrolled at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and took the usual freshman introductory classes.  I appreciated not having to pay a cent for my college education, as the general coffers of the Venezuelan treasury picked up the tab.  Of course that meant there was no real pressure to finish school in four years.  I noticed lots of older students around campus.

To meet my college requirement of 4 credit hours of psychology I enrolled in the Mindfulness Meditation course.  We started by watching the breath, and then the mind.  We also learned mantra techniques and visualization.

It was OK to spend time at the University, but my mind wandered during class.  What a nuisance.  My buddies and their girl friends were all wrapped around those mind games, like “he said that, and she said what, and oh my – what a problem.”

Oh, I better start paying attention to the professor before I get kicked out of class. .

I used to think that if it didn’t fit, just use a bigger hammer.  After all, if there is a hidden flaw it always seemed to find me.  My school projects often went from bad to worse, all by themselves.

And if things were going ok, it must be because I had overlooked something.

What does it all mean?

How does …

8 gallons of water + 2 pounds phosphorus + 1/2 pound of salt + enough iron to make 1 nail + 3 pounds of lime + 15 trace elements +

45 pounds of carbon

… plus the spark of life come together to form a human being?

Well, that question seemed to be above my pay grade, at least for now.

During my second year something caught my attention.  My chemistry professor said, “Every atom in your body started off by being created inside of a star,” and that stuck with me ever since.

Although chemistry was ok, I took more of a shine to the science of geology.

During summer recess I went off for a two week seminar to learn yoga.  I found that I was not very elastic, but the instructor said that over time I would improve.  But for now just do what is comfortable.

In the second week I learned certain postures called Mudras and Bandhas.  They are practiced to enliven the functioning of the body and mind.

I learned how to do the:

1. Mula Bandha 2. Jalandhara Bandha 3. Uddiyana Bandha 4. Maha Mudra 5. Maha Bandha 6. Maha Vedha 7. Yoga Mudra 8. Viparitakarani Mudra 9. Khechari Mudra 10. Vajroli Mudra 11. Shakti Chalana Mudra

12. Yoni Mudra

… along with an introduction to Kriya Yoga.

By my third year of college my passion for geology had grown.  As part of the petrology class we learned how to do some neat calculations.  For example, now that we are more aware of global warming, it’s important to understand the human impact on the environment.  For my mid-term paper I figured out …

… how much fuel does it take to power a 100-watt light bulb for a year?  And the answer is …

a) 714 pounds of coal b) .035 pounds of natural uranium (via nuclear generated electricity) c) 143 pounds of natural gas d) 1.5 mW wind turbine operating at 25% capacity for 2 hours, 20 min and 9 seconds e) one square meter solar panel running for 8 days, 18 hours, 14 minutes, and 24 seconds

f) 339 kW hydroelectric turbine (operating at 500 cubic feet of water per second) running for 2 hours and 35 minutes

Of course I had to make some energy usage assumptions to get those numbers, but my data turned out to be realistic (so says my professor).

I was really starting to enjoy Geology, now my college declared major.

I found out that earthquakes need not be a curse to humanity.  It’s certainly very true that untold numbers of people are injured and killed each year.  That’s a horrible tragedy.  Any injury to life is not acceptable. We need to learn how to better protect ourselves.  Maybe we shouldn’t build houses in risky areas where the Earth’s crust is constantly shifting, but where that is not possible we should at least build the best earthquake resistance structures that we can.

But we owe mountain building to the Earth’s mantle plate tectonic shifts (which include earthquakes).  Without mountains and the forces that uplift land mass, there would be very little land above sea level.  We would be much more of a “water world” with no place for mammals to walk, roam, evolve and live. Maybe then at some point all of the water would evaporate and we would be left with a desolate planet – like Mars and Venus is today.

A year later while working on my senior thesis I tackled one of my favorite mysteries; why is the Earth’s atmosphere so different from that of our sister planet Venus?

Atmospheric oxygen verses carbon dioxide comparison:
Earth – 21% oxygen, 0.036% CO2 (carbon dioxide), and 0.000004% ozone
Venus – no oxygen, 96.5% of deadly carbon dioxide, and no ozone

I learned that 2.5 billion years ago chlorophyll bearing organisms started photosynthesis on the Earth, which in turn created an oxygen rich atmosphere.  Plants absorb CO2 from the environment and use it to build their own organic structure. Carbon dioxide is used to form the carbonate shells of algae, clams, ammonites, and other organisms. It is also found within the protoplasm of living cells, mostly in the form of carbohydrates, starch, cellulose, and fat.

How does this happen? 

CO2 with water is synthesized into carbohydrates by green and blue algae, lichens, mushrooms, trees and plants, leaving as a byproduct – oxygen.

Calcified algae and bacteria known as Stromatolites covered continental platforms and shoals, just like today’s coral reefs. All that organic matter was buried under kilometers of sediments and rocks, where it was eventually heated, cracked, distilled, and transformed into oil, gas and coal. 

This is what happened:

The final product created depended upon the type of organic matter involved; plant deposits formed coal and natural gas, while marine deposits formed petroleum and tar.

The carbonate shells of marine organisms were transformed into limestone and metamorphosed into marble.

One of the greatest boons in making life possible on the Earth was the creation of our Ozone Layer.  When oxygen began to accumulate in the atmosphere, solar UV radiation in the upper Stratosphere (about 50 Km up) started to generate ozone:

This new ozone-rich atmospheric layer allowed marine organisms (vegetable and animal), living some tens of meter under the sea surface where they found protection against solar UV radiation, to now freely swim on the surface of the water and adventure onto dry land, where continued evolution and colonization of animal species took place.

Destroying the ozone layer would force humanity to live underground or in protective structures, not daring to venture outside.

When oil, gas or coal is burned as fuel the byproduct is carbon dioxide:

This is just the opposite of photosynthesis.  The process destroys oxygen to make carbon dioxide and smoke.

Manufacturing processes that create modern conveniences also contribute to the production of carbon dioxide.

For example,

When silica and quartz are combined with coal (coke) , utilizing an electric voltaic arc, silicon is produced for the manufacture of solar cell panels:

… but the byproduct once again is carbon dioxide.

Well.  I got my BS degree in Geology, worked for a petroleum company over the summer and also found some time to learn more advanced Kriya Yoga meditation techniques.

I got my masters degree in Geology last year, and today I am working on my Ph. D.

I’m also boarding a plane later this afternoon to attend the United Nations sponsored, 2011 Durban Climate Change Conference.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that there is a high probability that doubling the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a temperature rise of between 2 and 4.5 degrees.

But now it’s time to do my meditation before heading out to Simón Bolívar International Airport to catch that flight.


If you have hit a slump in your life, and cynicism and disenchantment seem to reign, its time to learn mediation.  If you are already meditating it’s time to spend a weekend at a yoga/meditation sponsored retreat.  Get your battery recharged.

Meditation helps to better focus the mind, relieve stress, reduce negative thoughts, boost energy, lead to better health, and awaken our innate curiosity of life.  It naturally fosters a better sense of self and well being, love and compassion.

Life is what you make of it.

Start to dream about greater human vistas as you grow. Meditation is fun.

Close the eyes and dive within to experience peace and harmony.  Great discoveries are awaiting you.