The human mind fascinates me. Who’s in charge?
Do my thoughts control me?
Do I control my thoughts?
Do I generate those thoughts?
Or are my thoughts knee-jerk reaction to external or internal experience?
Are we truly centered in our life, our bodies, our thoughts, our perceived world?
Perhaps not as much as we think.
I was shaken yesterday to realize I do not even perceive the true center of my physical body. I’m currently near the end of a series of Rolfing sessions, a fascinating journey in which Lucia is attempting to reverse decades of weaknesses and compensation. It was not a surprise to learn she was an art major in college as she re-sculpts my body, an artist in the physical world, an artist of healing and health.
At the end of yesterday’s session I stood as she visibly measured my form and alignment. “Put your feet together and close your eyes.”
I did, feeling my body waver side-to-side slightly, trying to find balance. I assumed it was the ongoing issue of the left-side weakness.
“Open your eyes. Did you feel that?”
“Yes, I’m still not balanced.”
“Your mind perceives the center of your body to be slightly to the right of center.”
My frame is bent and I’m pulling to the right, which explains the excessive wear on the right front tire. Only it’s not the frame that’s bent, it’s the engine.
As I sit struggling to put this into words that make sense I gaze out the window. My desk and monitor are centered on the desk directly in front of the center frame of the window. I have just realized that every time I look out the window, I look out the right window. So, ruminating, hoping for words to fall into the proper slot, I shift my gaze to the left window and am immediately physically uncomfortable. Even as I watch trees swaying slightly, birds flitting, I want to look away to the right although there is nothing any different on that side of the yard.
It’s entirely possible the right side of my body has been compensating for the past 25 years for that ankle injury. Lucia thinks it’s likely, and it makes sense to me. Six month pregnant with twins, my body was trying to figure so much stuff out every day that I’m sure it was taking the easiest route. A year later when I resumed running my left foot and ankle did hurt when I ran; certainly my body could have shifted a bit of the weight and effort to the un-injured right side and this could have become a 25-year habit.
We have other 25-year habits, do we not? A lifetime since high school still slightly stung by the rejection of the popular kid, the other guy getting starting quarterback, overweight or acne-faced, shy? Decades of remembering a stinging review by the boss? And ZING that sucker flies through your brain he said – I didn’t – they should have – and you are right back there as real as this moment.
I went to a Centering Prayer retreat once. All I brought home was a huge sense of frustration. I’ve thought about that. I would describe myself as deeply spiritual although I no longer go to church for far too many reasons than I care to explore here. I’m still climbing those steep cliff sides with a hit-or-miss trail to follow, clinging to the mountain trying to work forward, upward, and I have not come to many places to rest and look back, yet.
You have to wait. You can’t bring those restful places to yourself, you must sit in your spiritual waiting room staring at the same irritating picture of your dorky school kid self, the out-dated magazines of memories; sitting, waiting for an appointment that you do have but the date and time are in a foreign language. The world is full of waiting rooms if we will take advantage of them and open our eyes to the scene: a lonely run, time in silence or meditation, the carpool line, anywhere. You must move forward through each day and try to practice mindfulness, try to center in the moment and not the moment of last night or lunch with your friend today.
Am I being the best I can be in this moment? Can I let go of everything else?
I say this. I say to do this. And I do it. About once a month for 13 seconds.
Again we return to running. This is why running is so important to me. When I run alone I am out of all the other locations of living. I’m out of my house/office, I’m out of my car, the grocery, I’m out. Just me and feet and moving. I try to look at the trees, at the pavement, at the sky, to suck in life. I am frequently desperate to do this, to get outside of this horrid brain that creates a life that is not real, that drives me despite myself, creating Grand-Canyon-deep habits, and all the while I think I’m in charge.
This popped up in my life a few weeks ago and I’ve held onto it, considering it. At this point in time, for me, this is the best explanation of God that I have found. Please see the entire post for the full concept.
“What may be a little more difficult to distinguish is that the energy that forms the cells of your body, and the energy that causes that body to be alive, and the energy that is sparking around inside your head attempting to make the distinction, are all the same. Nothing exists in the universe, either in reality or in our perceptions of it, other than energy. If you were to take all this energy and try to imagine it in its entirety, the result would be God… By thinking that “god” is primarily concerned with ourselves, we establish in our minds a convenient level of importance that in reality does nothing more than skew our perceptions of everything else. Does this mean we are not important? Does this mean we are not creations of God (from an evolutionary standpoint)? No it does not. It means that the magnitude of what our dogmatic religions have been trying to tell us is much more profound than we ever imagined: God is not the Creator of all things, GOD IS ALL THINGS.”