With this week being my birthday week, and after receiving an overwhelming amount of feedback telling me that I my affinity for sitting meditation will get me nowhere, and that I can “meditate” while doing all kinds of things; like, watching TV, or playing games… I decided to subject myself to a harsh, brutal even, highly advanced (don’t try this at home kids), Three Day Street Fighter IV Meditation Retreat!
The goal: To unlock my mind’s eye, or all 8 (9 including the end-boss Seth) hidden characters, whichever comes first… or die trying!
So, that is why I haven’t written anything for the past few days, and, now that it is over, I would like to share with you some of my personal notes on some of the amazing breakthroughs I made on this intensive, personal journey of mine.
Monday I awoke, mentally resolved and prepared to submit myself to three days of seclusion; trapped in my basement, doing nothing by playing Street Fighter IV… for enlightenment. Myself and my room, a.k.a. sacred space, must be prepared as well. I go over the checklist:
Big Buddha Statue – Check
Sandalwood Incense – Check
Candles – Check
PS3 – Check
Street Fighter IV Game – Check
Custom Arcade-Style Fighting Stick – Check
Zafu – Check
Comfy Pants – Check
Phone Off – Check
Coffee – Oops, I forgot to get a coffee!
What’s dorking it out in your basement, playing video games, without coffee? What is that you say, “Gamers drink Mountain Dew?” Pfft! That’s for kids. Besides, I hear that stuff makes your sperm count die. Not that I want to make a baby right now, but I would like to keep my options open you know.
I walk, slowly, mindfully to my car and take a deep breath in and then out, as I begin to ready myself for some mindful driving, or driving meditation. Driving meditation is a lot like walking meditation, in that you drive really, really, slow. You should not play any music, but instead listen to and be aware of the sounds that the car is making, and the world around you. Feel your hands on the wheel, your foot as it gently touched the pedals… keep your back straight… and don’t go over 10 MPH.
It took a very long time to get to Starbucks to get my coffee, but it was worth it. I never felt so alive and meditative while driving before. I did not know how people would react, with my driving down the roads at 10 MPH, holding up traffic, but everyone was so kind about it. Everyone was honking at me (to support me in my retreat I assume), and waving like crazy at me. It was wonderful. The best part was that I had to drive by an old-age home, and there were some elderly folks outside riding around on their little scooters; I think I really made their day because it was the first time they ever had to pass a car on their scooters because the car was too slow.
Now that my coffee is in hand, I drink it mindfully; I am mindful of the black coffee goodness dripping down my throat; I am mindful of the caffeine that it is putting, thankfully, into my system; I am mindful of the child labor and piss-poor working conditions of the people who picked these beans for me to enjoy; I am mindful of the tree that had to die so I can take home this paper cup, and the other tree that died so I can have this little “jacket”, sleeve thingy over the cup so it does not burn my hands; I am mindful that it has taken me so long to drink this coffee that it has now gone cold and I don’t even want to finish the rest of it. Mmmmm, coffee meditation!
Sufficiently caffeinated, I sit on the floor, on my zafu, and prepare myself for the unlocking. There are various guides and posts online about the proper way to unlock all the characters, but most of them are inaccurate, and overly complex. Here is the right way to do it:
Beat the game in arcade mode as C. Viper to unlock Cammy; as Ryu to unlock Sakura; as Sakura to unlock Dan; as Abel to unlock Fei Long; as M. Bison to unlock Rose; as Chun-Li to unlock Gen; now, beat the game with all the characters you unlocked already to unlock Akuma; then, beat it as Akuma to unlock the Gouken cut scene… after that, beat the game as someone you already beat the game with before but you can’t lose any rounds, have to get 2 perfects, and 3 ultra combo finishes; then, finally, beat the game with all 16 default characters to unlock Seth.
That’s about it. Oh, and the above works on any difficulty setting, so you could do it all on the easiest setting if you need to. However, I did not want to cheapen my meditation experience, so I opted to keep the game on the default setting of Medium. I mean, who ever gets enlightenment on the “Easy” level?
After a few hours of playing, or meditating, I manage to unlock a few characters, but my neck is getting sore from looking up at the TV and my legs are starting to cramp up… because I am sitting in the lotus position. I opt to sit on the couch instead so my neck can be in a more comfortable position, but I keep my back straight and my legs crossed. It takes me all day to unlock the first half of the characters, and my body is starting to really feel it. My legs are really sore, and my eyes feel like they are about to burn out from my skull. Video game meditation is rough, but the thought of how much merit I will gain by all this vigor and effort keeps me going!
I crawl to bed and decided to get some rest, it is time to call day one over. As I lay there in bed I come to realize that the theme song from the game that plays in the background of all the fights is stuck in my head – playing in an eternal loop that just won’t stop. Also, I seem to have a hard time shutting my eyes; for, when I do, all I see is flashes of colors, pulses of light, and fuzzy images from the game burned into my retina. Maybe this is one of those Jahna’s people were talking about? Is this what seeing auras is like?
Day two starts with my looking into the mirror and realizing that both my eyes are bloodshot, and it looks like I need a shave. No time for that now! I will take care of that after the retreat is over. I decided to stay on the couch today as well, in hopes that it may help my neck out some, but I still keep the lotus position as I play. By the end of day 2, I have unlocked all the hidden characters… except for Seth. I am saving that one for my final day of Street Fighter Meditation. I need to call it another day though; my legs are killing me, I have taken like 6 Excedrin because my head is killing me, and I feel exhausted.
That night, I found it impossible to get any sleep. I felt so high-strung from all the video game meditation that I could not seem to unwind. I thought that maybe I could do some sitting meditation to try to calm myself down so I could sleep, but whenever I closed my eyes all I could see was flashing colors and bits from the game playing in my head… oh, and that freaking theme song is still going and going and going… ringing in my ears. I swear, I don’t know how the Buddha and his monks did it.
Day three, I look in the mirror and think I look like some kind of hermit; or, some kind of speed-freak, meth-head, on crack… and that song is still in my head. Screw lotus position, today I am going to sit on the couch like a normal human being and unlock Seth as quick as I can. I am mentally and physically done with this thing.
In fact, screw Seth! I’m done. I am going to go take a shower, shave, clean my room, see what life is like outside (I hear the weather is beautiful out there), and start sitting meditation again.
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