Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size


music buddyEven spoken-word poet Buddy Wakefield gets tired of talking

Many Santa Cruzans are at least peripherally familiar with the technique of Vipassana meditation. Those who haven’t been to the popular (and free) 10-day silent retreats surely know somebody who went to one and came back changed—and likely hasn’t shut up about it since.

Spoken word poet Buddy Wakefield is basically that friend. It’s working for him, though. The two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion appeared at Santa Cruz Music Festival last year, based in large part on his ability to “make crowds of grown men cry,” as SCMF organizer and GT digital marketing specialist Thomas Dawson put it. Now he’s coming back to town for a show at the Tannery’s Institute of Contemporary Art, in which he’ll likely shake everyone up by beautifully expounding on his favorite topic du jour—staying present through diligent focus on the breath.

So take a big one—in through your nose and out through your mouth—and read on.

GT: So I know a Vipassana meditation course is a 10-day retreat where you meditate all day in silence for all 10 days, right? That seems like such a big commitment. What got you to the point where you decided, ‘I’m doing this. This is for me?’

BUDDY WAKEFIELD: Just the compounding stress of being human. Nobody’s immune to it. People have different starting points and experience this life to varying degrees, but nobody’s immune to the threat of agitation and misery that runs through all of us. I was in a place where I needed to address mine. I wanted to go somewhere where I didn’t have to hear myself talk. It was 11 hours of meditation a day for 10 days. No reading, no writing no exercising. No eye contact. No thing. Basically the life of a monk. Also, no rites or rituals or idol worship. Just scientific observation of breath. For the first time, it was just this pure noble silence that I was getting to experience, with no BS. From there the rest was history. It's the one thing I’ve found in this world that really works to break habit patterns.

Wow, that’s amazing. I’ve heard that every evening you watch a video dialogue from the guy who started Vipassana. How were those? I’ve heard mixed reviews about them.

They’re fantastic. They’re wholesome They’re on point. They’re honest. Saying “mixed reviews” is kind of like people who make fun of Oprah. Why has Oprah become a target to make fun of when she’s just trying to do something to help the world? A bunch of cynical skeptical people can sit around on their do-nothing asses and make fun of her. It just baffles me. When something’s 100 percent, it’s 100 percent. Still, there’s always going to be somebody making it look less than 100 percent, as their own reflection. If I’m telling you that the law of nature is change and that’s the truth, but you’re not able to wrap your head around the truth that the law of nature is change, then you’re going say that I don’t understand this world. That’s where I think you’re probably coming from with that question.

Damn, sorry. OK. Well, it seems like Vipassana is a lot about letting go of the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.  How would you describe yourself to yourself?

Well, while I'm giving this answer, I’m peeing on a bush in Black Canyon, Arizona and I view myself as honest, as striving toward honesty. I view myself as hit or miss, trying to be more hit than miss. I view myself as approaching my ideal self. Certainly a ways from it. I view myself as having clean teeth, because I had dental work done yesterday.

Cool. So are you afraid of dying?

Absolutely not. I actually welcome the event. Of course, I don’t want my head to get crushed in a train accident. I don’t want ridiculous volumes of pain. But the reality is being born isn’t a tragedy, and neither is death, and neither is anything in between.

Buddy Wakefield performs Saturday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Contemporary Institute of Art, 1050 River St. in Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10.

Comments (1)Add Comment
he is ...
written by bev, May 02, 2014
it's said enlightenment is a sudden, WORDLESS understanding, and as humorist abd author david bader ("zen judaism") adds, 'so stop telling everyone already.'
buddy's got it. always did with some of us around him. but lest he forget, let me offer another baderism: 'breathe in. breathe out. breathe in. breathe out. forget this and attaining enlightenment will be the least of your problems.'
mama bev *L*

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location