Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Body As Teacher

This large enso hangs over the big old river rock fireplace in my living room.  It brightens a room that has dark wood wains-cotting 3/4 of the way up the wall.  My daughter started work on the canvas before she left home and the half finished canvas sat around  looking sad for a long time.  One day I finished the background with different shades of orange and red and painted the big enso on it.  That was several years ago now. I like that it has a tiny drip coming down from the right hand corner.  I cheated!  I did not do the enso  in a single stroke as a true Zen painter would.

I am getting ready for a couple of art shows right now, The Fairfield Artist's Studio Tour on April 25-26 in my home and The Make It show in Vancouver on the May 1st weekend.  My habitual tendency is to get very focused on what needs to be done (but not in a good way)  ... I start thinking about and listing the things that need to be done.  And then I think well if I can just get this out of the way....  And it seems with that very statement I am transported into a state of grim determination.  I am no longer standing contemplatively in front of a canvas working out the next step.  I have become the demanding boss shouting out orders to myself, what about those business cards and the poster and you need a sign for the corner of the street and how about some stands to hang paintings on at the show, and, and, and.  Sheesh, I really can be Mrs. No Fun.   

I become a list nazi (remember the soup nazi from Seinfeld?) and before I can say enough already, my body often reminds me that this is no way to behave.  My body is a great teacher but I have not always been a very willing student.  In fact I think that if my body didn't rebel I'd probably just keep doing the same old thing, running on adrelalin and grim determination.  But somehow we always get what we need from somewhere.

Here's how the scenario usually plays itself out:  my mind starts cranking out a full menu of stress laden entrees which my body finds quite unpalatable.  My body responds by getting stress poisoning (a lot like food poisoning).  I then have no choice but to  slow down and spend time in the present moment.  The more I abuse, the bigger the reminder.  And I have had some big ones.  So nowadays I am pretty good with small warnings.  Okay, I get it, thanks for the reminder, I'm taking the stress ragu off the menu right now.  So today my little mantra is everything will get done and things are fine just as they are.  No need to be Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen.  I used to say "I need a vacation from myself"  but I never did find a travel agent offering that package.

I know I make it sound like the mind and body are separate and of course they're not.  What I am really talking about is the awareness that goes back and forth between our thoughts and feelings and the sensations in our body.  We are like this chemical soup of hormones which is instantly and constantly conversing.  It's kind of like karma, nothing is unaccounted for.  

Does your body talk to you, with aches and pains and strangely mysterious symptoms?  Have you learned it's language?  Do you know what it's trying to tell  you?  Just like we get to know our minds we can get to know our bodies.  Who is a pain in the neck?  What gives you a headache?  Listening to my body reminds me of what works in my life and what is destructive.  It is a matter of seeing and  adjusting course (to use a sailing analogy), forgetting and then returning to my intention, just as we do when we sit.  As time goes on I like to think we get quicker at seeing what we're up to and quicker at stumbling back to the path.  I like to think as time goes on we spend more time making wholesome choices, that require less correction.   Some say that our body is our temple.  Mine is one with creaky stairs and rattling windows.  It's fairly high maintenance in the world of places to live, but it's what I've got to work with this time around and it's a pretty powerful teacher.  Obviously built to specifications, just ask the architect.

1 comment:

  1. Great Post! And Yes I'm very intune with what my body tells me or at least I like to think that I am. Ha! I get sinusitus every time I let myself get overly stressed or run down. I'm still working on the balance part were I can get the correct amount of things done and not trigger the sinus... I'm Getting there... Slowly.

    Blessings on the art show! I'm sure its going to be a wonderful event;-))) Om.