Monday, August 31, 2009

Breathe

2006-08-23 - Road Trip - Day 31 - United State...
The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
~ Ram Das


Try to get quiet, you'll miss out on something, like someone who's looking for someone who's looking. ~ John Denver

Whenever someone talks about the virtues of quieting the mind, I sometimes wonder if we live on the same planet. I mean, with all that most of us have on our plates, where is there room for another helping of anything? As it is, we often feel like we're dribbling off the edges and half-expecting mom to remind us to wipe up the mess after we're finished.
Disconnecting from the chaos around us is hard enough, tuning out the interior noise is even harder. Thoughts as determined to distract as an intractable itch push and shove themselves to the forefront of consciousness without so much as a word of excuse. They're demanding, inconsiderate, and insistent upon such importance that we're hesitant to tell them to shut up.

There is a word in the Hopi language,
koyaanisqatsi, that means crazy life, life out of control, life that needs redirection. In the 1992 film, Thunderheart, a Sioux medicine man says of the cartoon character, Mr. Magoo, "he needs to go up to the mountain and get himself focused." For most of us, those occasions when we can get away are too far and few between. Somehow we need to find a way to integrate them into daily life.


One of the skills I used to teach (while trying to learn myself) involved mindfulness. Becoming more aware of how I felt, forcing myself to inhale deeply when my chest was tight, paying attention to tension -- it all has the effect of turning down the mental volume and fortunately, it doesn't take time, it just takes practice. Since we're breathing already, it doesn't take much to breathe intentionally. And it doesn't take up any room on the plate, either.


(A Wild Heart Looking for Home by John Denver.
)


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