The word mojo is African in origin and was first used in America to denote a magical charm or talisman. The great Bluesman, Muddy Waters, singing, “Got My Mojo Working,” used the word to define his ability to charm the ladies (except for the one he was wanting to charm, hence him singing the blues).
I first heard that Muddy Waters song when I was growing up in the South. And there was something intriguing about it that produced a feeling of longing. I understood mojo as personal power or an otherworldly inner strength. I wasn’t a popular kid and was bullied and bested regularly. The early imprints inlaid into my mental circuits emphasized weakness and anxiety. I grew up running on a merciless script of victimization. The voice in my head kept speaking from the same poop-filled scenes over and over. I was living life by the foggy light of a bad moon and felt devoid of any mojo whatsoever.
In my early twenties, I discovered martial arts and began learning about that specific type of mojo. It was based on how hard and fast I could punch and how high I could kick. My teachers did much to restore some sense of confidence and trust in my own ability. But it was limited, as life is rarely like a Kung Fu movie and Karate did little to subdue the unforgiving internal dialogue.
My usual interactions involved social and professional situations that required a different skill set then I was learning in the Karate studio. The old childhood feelings of inadequacy were still very much a factor outside of class. But at least I felt I could potentially kick someone’s ass if I had to.
From sweat lodges to Zendos, from mushroom ceremonies to sacred dancing, I spent years looking for a stronger and deeper mojo that would empower all aspects of my life. I knew I had great potential within, but I had no idea how to manifest it. I kept looking for the teacher, the book, or the belief system that would bust me through my limitations and self-generated suffering. I figured it had to be out there somewhere.
I had met plenty of people over the years who seemed to carry and wield incredible mojo from a wide range of practices and paths. And they claimed that it was something that resided within all of us and we just had to learn how to awaken to it. So, I kept looking.
One method for getting my mojo back that I began in my early twenties along with Karate, and consistently kept up over the years, is the practice of meditation. Sitting on a cushion and following my breath with awareness seemed to provide at least some temporary relief from the running commentary inside my head.
For as long as I can remember, that internal dialogue echoed and magnified the bullies who inflated themselves by making me smaller. They may have been unkind, but my internal dialogue was truly ruthless, and meditation would provide some space between my awareness and the stream of thinking that I was aware of. But there were still plenty of times during the course of my day where the old scripts would kick in and I would be right back to that little, victimized kid, feeling sorry for himself. It was a piss-poor way of being in the world and sucked a lot of the joy out of life.
So, what did I imagine the joy that I was after looked like? How would it be if I got my mojo working? I told myself that I would be empowered, confident, and exuberantly open to life’s grand adventure! I would be skillful at living! I would feel the courage to live the type of life that was more vibrantly alive and filled with daring, to live a life of joyous freedom, infused with great love and authentic laughter. Was that too much to ask?
I wanted my life to be a dance, like Anthony Quinn in the final scene of “Zorba the Greek,” regardless of what rained down. That scene exemplified the mojo that I desired above all else. I fantasized that the human percussion of fingers snapping to the harmony of lively Greek Bouzouki music was the soundtrack for my life!
Of course, all that desire and longing to feel the pulsing dance of life were just more ideas from the stream of thinking that seemed to have so much power over me. I was stuck on a spinning wheel to nowhere. And then I read something on a blog from the Huffington Post, written by the yogi mystic, Sadhguru. It became like a Zen koan, sparkling in a back alley of my mind, flaming up from time-to-time. And with every day that I sit by its inner light, I get clearer on a more skillful way of doing human life. He wrote, “Meditation is not something that you do; meditation is something that you become.” Those words held profound mojo for me.
In my time with Zen practitioners and other Buddhist types, there was always a lot of talking about our true nature, what our original face was before our parents were born. I knew that this face was not the face of my thoughts, but something much larger, but still hard to touch. It was a mysterious concept that was always difficult to grasp because I would always try to conceptualize it, to make it concrete.
As it turns out, it wasn’t meant to be a concept really, but more of an experience. This is how I understood Sadhguru’s instruction to become meditation. This was an invitation to experience becoming the infinitely larger awareness in which my thoughts can dance about without causing too much trouble. It is a much more settled and peaceful mental space. I am not who that viscous voice in my head tells me I am. It is just a voice, an internal thought with all the power of a dust bunny. I am the space of full awareness in this moment. And this points towards that mysterious, pre-birth face.
I continue on a path of learning and I shall continue to honor the dance of Zorba. I am grateful for the insight that I am not my thoughts and that they have no real power over me unless I give it to them. I am the incredible space of awareness, the meditative mind state, that my thoughts harmlessly gurgle through. And this includes all the thoughts about what type of weak-assed man I may be. My mojo is working better and better and that is fine indeed! (Cue Bouzouki music).
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:
Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here:
Got Writer’s Block?
We are a participatory media company. Join us.
Participate with the rest of the world, with the things you write and the things you say, and help co-create the world you want to live in.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: YouTube/Zorba the Greek