Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday, April 28: The Way Out

This may sound like yesterday’s essay. So be it. It is the way out of situations we want to be out of. The situations can be physical or emotional or mental or even spiritual.

The first step is to come into the present. Forget the, Why? stuff. And just get clear on What Is.

In our waking life on earth, What Is always has this as its basic component: breathing and gravity. (Notice, I said, “on earth.” Out in space you can escape gravity, otherwise, it is a constant, either the boss or the mother, but the earth is attracted to us and we are glued to it). We can at any moment come into a concrete feeling, feeling in the sense of sensation, of the present by becoming aware of our breathing and how we are relating to gravity. What is touching down to the ground or the chair or the bed. Somewhere we are being held up. Where is that and how is that?

If we can notice this in terms of what bones are pressing into the earth and how the line of force goes from there to the rest of us, to our head if we are sitting or standing, this is even more connecting to the present.

Okay. Breathing in and breathing out and knowing that. Breathing in and breathing out and sensing our body’s relation to gravity.

And then what? Feeling if we like what we feel. If yes, enjoy it. If not: do something different.


Create a variation. Lean forward. Lean back. Shift left or right. Lift our toes. Lift our heels. Bring an arm to a different position. Change the shape of our spine. Change how our legs are positioned.

Then see if we like that. If we don’t. Try another variation. See what difference the variation creates.

And if the discomfort we notice in the present is our emotions, what can we do? Keep breathing. Keep sensing gravity. And listen to the voice behind the emotion. What are our thoughts telling us as we feel bad? What is the tone of what we are being told?

“You are so messed up.”
“You should be doing better than this.”
“So and so should treat me better.”
“I had a terrible childhood.”
And so on.

The Byron Katie work is an obvious call here: judge your neighbor/parent or whatever, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. This is creating variation. This is doing something different than the usual sulking and obsessing. The questions give the mind something to do besides argue with reality. Is it true? Can I absolutely know it’s true? How do I react when I believe it’s true? Who would I be if I wasn’t attached to believing this thought?

And the turn around is almost to definition of variation. “My Dad shouldn’t be so critical of me.” Fine. And try this: “I shouldn’t be so critical of my Dad.” And “I shouldn’t be so critical of myself.”

In there, too, listening to the tone of voice of these thoughts: how can we change that.

Mental problems, again: come into breath and gravity reality. See what the thought and problem is. See what we’ve tried so far as the solution. Try something else. Turn the problem upside down. Look at it from a different perspective. This is a whole book, but the idea is the same:

If what you are doing isn’t working, do something else. Plus the Zen touch: come to the present of breath and gravity. Maybe that is enough to create an ease and solidity from which real change and enjoyment can come.

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