I usually have my eyes closed when practicing, as I did during this time. As he approached and paced around me, he was almost nonstop talking to himself and sometimes another non present person or entity, and occasionally referring to me and the practice I was doing. Much of his talk seemed to be about shamanic, Native American spirituality, concepts, energy and other realms which many people who not associate with a "homeless person" talking out loud while pacing in angles and circles around someone they don't know.
At first reaction one could choose to go into fear and judgment mindset, assuming and interpreting such person and their actions as threatening, "crazy" and worthy of hostile "defensive" reactions and avoidance. And as he approached me initially, although apart from a brief visual check a few minutes after he approached me, my eyes were closed but I felt into his energy and decided to just continue quietly with my standing meditation practice.
He continued his talking & pacing, frequently walking up to within a foot of me, sometimes standing there for a minute or two then pacing around within a couple yards, coming back and continuing this throughout the next 40 minutes or so of my Zhan Zhuang standing practice. And for about another 30 minutes when I transitioned into tai chi qigong moving practice. Eventually he walked away, and I continued with my practice for a while longer.
As I reflect on the ways someone could choose to interpret then react or respond to such a situation and person, it is clear how this can be applied to any experience and relationships of all types.
Do we interpret & react with hateful, suspicious, fearful, negatively assumptive & judging notions to people & experiences new, different or which seem "strange" to us?
Or do we choose to remain more calmly openhearted, curious, centered, honestly communicative and respectful of the diversity of life, people, experiences and learning?
Had I chosen to interpret his being & actions as intending to be a direct threat to abuse and physically harm me, and if I had reacted with hostility and accusatory thoughts & words toward him, it would have created an emotionally and perhaps physically violent, disharmonious situation where there was no malice or ill intent to begin with from him.
Reminded me of another experience about ten years ago in Berkeley. I was walking across a parking lot when suddenly a guy walked rapidly around a corner toward me, looked intently at me and said something as he quickly raised one of his arms above his head ( I could already sense he was high on something ) and started striking his arm at my head to within a held inch or so.
As his appearance was a bit intense, the charge of whatever he was high on was palpable, and his sudden aggressive physical striking toward my head could have felt threatening in themselves, I and others could have reacted by yelling out that he was assaulting me, running away, "defending" myself by physically attacking him, etc..
But, perhaps partly as a benefit of my Zhan Zhuang practice, my response was more of calm, centered, compassionate curiosity and sensitivity to each moment. Rather then projecting fears, anger, emotional or physical violence onto him, thought of his intentions and actions.
He did this striking motion several times to within grazing distance of my head and shoulder while making a kind of swooshing sound. Then suddenly paused, stepped back a foot or two and said something like "Wow - you know! You can see or feel it! How do you know?!", while looking surprised and in a way seen or recognized deeply.
Part of what he was referring to was that I could feel he was feeling and likely seeing energy and tracers from energy. And his striking at my head, albeit rapid and from outside liked like a typical "karate chop" to the head and neck, I felt in the moment was him sensing, exploring and trying to show this energy.
By simply being calmly centered, curious and compassionately ( not the same as pitying, looking down on someone or assuming they are "inferior" ) presently attuned, what could have been reacted to with mental, emotional and / or physical violence - dissonance, instead contributed to a softening of armoring, distorting negative assumptions into empathic, heartful energetic communion and respect.
We both parted with a felt appreciation for our shared life energy, for transforming suspiciously projecting assumptive interpretations into calm open hearted presence, awareness, love and curiosity.
This is something which can heal so much of the unwarranted hateful projective judgements, fears, assumptive misinterpretations and reactions which pollute this world and our beliefs and behaviors toward ourselves and each other.
The more open heartedly curious, honestly & responsively directly communicative we ask questions and explore to learn with each other ( rather than indulge in expecting others to know our unstated boundaries, to assume and gossip ), the more respectful we are of the equality of diverse ways of being & exploring life and relationships of all consensual types even when different from others and own preferences or likes, the more we contribute positive energy, love, peaceful coexistence, empathy and sanity to this ocean of energy we are all a part & creative expressions of.