Thursday, July 19, 2012
I found myself today playing a mental exercise, asking, "WHY do I want a
clean house?" Because (I answered myself) I want to be free of the
feeling that it needs
to be cleaned; I want to not see dirt on
the floor, so that I don't have to interpret it as something to respond
to. Ah, I realized; even beyond my floor being clean, my deepest want is
to be free of feeling compelled to respond
to the dirt.... And that is something I have control over!
This thought experiment occurred while I was in Constructive Rest, the
practice I recommend for all my students: Lie on your back with your
head on some books and legs supported, and just breathe. (This is
especially rejuvenating after 30 minutes of vacuuming with a "Power Paw"
wand extension, since the belt on our vacuum keeps breaking....)
There's a game one can play during this rest practice: Give yourself an
impulse to act (for example, I'm going to lift my elbow), then choose
from the following:
1. Act in the habitual way (lifting with effort).
2. Refrain from consenting to habit (of engaging effort, tightening,
contracting -- even in anticipation of the action, without even
following through), by refraining from acting.
3. Establish my directions (expansive energy), such that the expansion
initiates the movement (*this is better understood once you've had
lessons!!), and letting my elbow elevate.
4. Do something else entirely (i.e., move my foot, speak, blink).
The purpose of this game is to break the chain of habitual response
(generally one of contraction) and apply directed thought (generally and
specifically) as a means of initiating action, while maintaining an
awareness of all the options available. What if I applied this process
to my housecleaning situation? I could see dirt on the floor, and:
1. Feel that something needs to be done about it.
2. Remind myself that, in fact, no such thing needs be done; I could just keep leaving it there.
3. Tune into my personal pride and preference that my floor be free of
dirt, and clean it up with satisfaction -- even enjoyment!
4. Turn my attention to something else entirely: appreciating what a
beautiful day it is, looking forward to swimming/dinner with
friends/reading my new book, celebrating my new-found freedom from the
compulsion to clean :-)