Friday, December 12, 2003

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Well the fishing boat is cleaned out and covered up. The portable ice shanty has been cleaned up and minor repairs have been made. I've got a new blade on the ice auger. I'm holding off putting canoes away for the winter. One more paddle before the river starts carrying ice floes would be nice. I've had a long two-week break from walking the dogs in the woods as we hunkered down through firearm deer season. I've gone internal and the level of chatter in my head has hit overwhelming proportions. So I've got some insights to share…

There are some unfortunate places your mind can take you when you become overly dependent on it as your source of entertainment. It starts with simply thinking about things. But too much thinking without moving your body and your mind tends to want to do something with all those thoughts. To organize them in some way. So it begins calculating, talking all those random thoughts and trying to put some order to them. Calculating brings home its close friend, judging for a little sleep over. I mean, after all, how can you begin to calculate if you're not making judgments about the validity of one thought over another. So you give judging free rein and before you know it, you're placing judgment not only on past and present occurrences, but also on a whole host of future occurrences that may or may not happen.

If you don't recognize the signs of this downward spiral and introduce some physical movement, before you know it worry will come to your party with new games to play. It happens pretty quickly. As soon as calculating decides that something you thought about is possible and judging decides it's not good, unless you intercept, worry decides to focus on it. At the point that you've worried something enough, controlling will move in to center court and attempt to handle the situation.

So what's the prescription? The two best solutions I know are, moving your body, as I've mentioned above, and meditation. Combine the two and you've got what's called “moving meditation.” Two very popular moving meditations are Yoga and Tai Chi. Both help you to quiet your mind through movement. But you don't have to run out and join a class to start your own moving meditation routine.

For physical fitness, we're told a minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. Better still, 30-45 minutes three or four times a week, or best of all, 45 minutes every day. So for example, if you are walking, think about how your feet are landing on the ground with each step and how all the joints of your legs and arms and even your toes are moving as you walk. Focus on the details of your movement and become aware of how all your body parts are working. Your mind then turns to the regular sequence of your movement instead of potential monsters, real or imagined.

Not only will your walking become more graceful and fluid, but the way you handle your life will be graceful and flowing too. What have you got to lose? After all, Dorothy and her friends were obviously not practicing moving meditation on their walk down the yellow-brick road and look where that got them!

“A Zen abbot once set before an American aspirant two sets of small leg-less Japanese dolls, one pair weighted in the bottom part, the other in the head part. When the pair weighted in the head were pushed over, they remained on their sides; the ones weighted in the bottom bounced back at once. The abbot roared in laughter over this illustration of the plight of Western man, forever stressing the thinking at the expense of his totality.” From a very old book on my shelf, The World of Zen.

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” ~Arthur Conan Doyle, in a 1896 article for Scientific America

There's a moment in every day that Satan cannot find.” ~Blake

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