Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trailing Off

Last week's post promised a month of uni-tasking, so you might expect this post to be about my first week of doing one thing at a time. And it would be except for the fact that I decided to start that challenge on June first, in order to give myself time to access and indulge my multi-tasking habits. There are many, I found out. June first is going to be a bit of a shock.

I will write instead about my mini-challenge of the week.

Every time I go hiking, I say to myself, "I should do this every day." So this week, I did.

The weather has been beautiful here in Western New York. Taking advantage of this and the abundance of trails that we have nearby, I was able to take a hike through the woods every day over the last week. Each time I went somewhere new. Most often I walked by myself which was nice because it encouraged me to focus on the experience. I find solo walking to be meditative and being in nature, surrounded by lush green trees and foliage, listening to the sounds of birds and moving water is both calming and energizing.

If I do have anything on my mind, and I often do, when I begin to walk, thoughts bubble up. It is the usual monkey mind, brain spinning thoughts, worries, problems. As the trail unfolds, my thoughts trail off. I am transported. Taking in the sights, smells and sounds, breathing in the fresh air, I feel a sense of wonder and gratitude for being alive. Being on the trail orients me in a way, even when I am lost because I forgot what blazes I was following. Lost or not, I know where I am. The earth is beneath my feet. I am surrounded by life. I am a part of this beautiful living earth. My world is not those thoughts that spin in my head. Just because I often live there does not make them my home. Here, surrounded by the splendor of the earth, is where I belong.

Getting a regular dose of connection with the earth has been therapeutic for me. I am emerging from my week of walks feeling stronger, happier, calmer and more energetic. And I didn't have to go far from my house to find my home.

"Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath." -Natalie Goldberg.

Wishing you balance,


Saturday, May 22, 2010

One Thing at a Time

How many times have we heard that phrase?

One thing at a time.

The moments in which I engage fully in the matter at hand are times of balance and contentment. Yet, my normal mode is to give in to the allure of multitasking. (Just a second. Let me check my e-mail.) Mostly, for me, that means dividing my attention between what is happening in the moment and what is happening in my head. Yesterday, when I received a massage, instead of giving myself over to the experience, I stayed very firmly in my head where the thinking, scheming and planning did very little to encourage relaxation. Last week, I showed up at a dark and empty house for the birthday party of a dear friend because my mind was somewhere else when she was informing me that the party was not going to be at her home.

So today, when I ran across this terrific article about multitasking, I read it with great interest. (Read it. I will wait here. I won't check my e-mail or anything. I will just wait.) AJ Jacobs, the same man who spent a year living according to the literal interpretation of the bible, is at it again. This time, he challenges himself to do only one thing at a time for 30 days. You may know that I love setting up experiments for myself- the latest one was a month of dancing every day. The first thing I thought when I read the article was how much I would like to try it too. The second thing I thought was that I am certain that it would be impossible. So, I have decided to try it, but with some modifications. For instance, if I am sharing a meal with someone, I will converse with my dining companion rather than focuses solely on eating. I will allow the radio to be on when I am cleaning or cooking. Is this cheating? Perhaps, but when I consider the purest approach to this challenge it stops me in my tracks. It seems impossible.

OK. Thirty days. I will let you know how it goes.

Wishing you balance (and that is all I am doing right now, nothing else),


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Force

I have recently become interested in a form of moving bodywork and self-healing called Breema. This interest led to me to purchase the book Self-Breema: Exercises for Harmonious Life by Jon Schreiber and Denise Berezonsky which I have spent the last week ravenously reading. Not only a movement system and a form of body work, Breema also offers a philosophy for balanced living based on nine principles of harmony. What has most resonated with me and which I admit I have much to learn from of late is the principle, "no force."

As the book states, "Force is a relationship between separate entities, an energy that moves something outside of itself."

This simple idea has inspired a radical change in my approach to my work as a therapist. As I give a massage using my hands, I could think of my hands as separate from me and separate from the muscles they touch. I could think of myself, also, as separate from the earth beneath my feet. All separate entities. My hands, my body, the client, the earth. Approaching the work in this way, my hands, lacking connection to my body, exert force, subjecting them to stress rather than working from the energy, movement and weight of my whole body. Without feeling a connection to the tissue with which I am making contact, I use force to move or effect a change in those tissues. Instead, if I think of my hand and my client's body as existing in unity with one another, change is brought about willingly. Without feeling a connection to the earth, I must summon up all my strength and weight to affect that change rather than feeling the solid support of the earth and allowing that support to flow through me.

Letting go of force requires a quiet listening, a peaceful presence, an unhurried inquiry into what is happening. It is about connection and support, a unity through which movement and change are welcomed.

No force.

Wishing you balance,


Photo by Gregory Colbert. Click on photo for link to his Ashes and Snow exhibit website.