Somatic movement

A somatic approach to movement can help us get reacquainted with ourselves. This is our home base after all. It’s our guts and tissues, our thoughts and perceptions. It’s our subjective experience of life. […] When we cultivate self-awareness through movement, we come up against the boundary of self and other. We recognize that we don’t live in a vacuum.

~ Chandler Stevens from, http://chandlerstevens.com/blog/2016/11/9/connection-relation-and-somatic-ecology

The word “reacquainted” leapt out at me. Every time I truly pause to pay attention, I’m immediately confronted by my physical self. There’s the inevitable settling towards senescence, and frankly that doesn’t bother me. I enjoy looking back at the things I was once capable of and thinking, well, that was nice! No, the confrontation I’m talking about is the stuff that I know is my fault… and I’m not going to list physical metrics. Suffice to say: All I’d have to do it remove the stress and everything else would settle back to a wonderful baseline that I’d love to return to.

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Self-respect

To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commission and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.

~ Joan Didion

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The pit of despair

When—despite your best efforts—you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, remember: Even the best of the best sometimes feel this way. When I’m in the pit of despair, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think. And you are not alone.

~ Tim Ferriss

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Time amplifies

The small choices we make on a daily basis either work for us or against us. One choice puts time on your side. The other ensures it’s working against you. Time amplifies what you feed it.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/small-steps-giant-leaps/

I don’t truly know if I’m unique. For me, the only way I can manage to feel as if I’ve enough time in my day is if I’m ruthless with myself about not giving my time away. I’ve spent so many decades feeling harried and busy… only to realize, duh, I did that to myself. I’ve spent so many dark days simply wanting some peace… only to realize, duh, all this craziness, I chose that. Somehow, I managed to slowly let this same idea Parrish mentions seep into my bones. Now I feel like I’m able to relax and simply experience being, through most of my days. Sometimes, I even take naps. My 25-year-old self would be horrified.

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Always a good reminder

We often turn it into something bad: I suck for not being disciplined, I suck for not being able to focus, I’m not strong enough, etc etc. But it’s just a part of being human — we all have fear, uncertainty, doubt, resistance built into our survival instincts.

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/resistless/

My “I suck” dialog has different vocabulary, and I have a penchant for petulance. Nonetheless, it’s always a good reminder to be aware of it. I can sabotage myself, without fail, by setting expectations—any expectations—for anything I’m working on. The only way I can stay balanced on the narrow, mountaintop spine of rock that is sanity is to pay attention to the next steps. There’s not really much option about where the path along the ridge leads. In recent months I’ve been tinkering on a new project creating something I’ve been curious to try for a long time. It’s interesting, but not particularly difficult work. It’s definitely creative, and I’ve repeatedly found interesting little twists in the path. Am I going somewhere in particular with the project? …not really. I have ideas of what might be farther along the path, but that’s more an interesting additional possibility, rather than the reason for doing the work.

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If you change

You have two options. You can stay the same and protect the formula that gave you your initial success. They’re going to crucify you for staying the same. If you change, they’re going to crucify you for changing. But staying the same is boring. And change is interesting. So of the two options, I’d rather be crucified for changing.

~ Joni Mithcell

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Supreme excellence

Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

~ Sun Tzu

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First thought: What if the enemy is myself? Surely, Sun Tzu would consul alternative options which do not involve full frontal attack. Because telling my petulant self that it has to sit down and “Eat. Just. One. Pea!” …that’s not going to work. (Actually, hold on, maybe if I try frontal assault one more time… nope, that really does not work.)

How does one break one’s own resistance? Can I ruminate on goals, or the “whys”? (e.g., “Why did I say I wanted to do this thing you’re now resisting?”) Can I examine, and then let go of, sunk costs? Can I visualize the finished place, state, or situation?

If I could do any of that, would I have then solved the bigger problem: Why am I [in point of fact] my own worst enemy?

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Attitude and assessment

It seems likely that Jack Sparrow’s admonishment about attitude is an echo of Aurelius’s reminder to himself two thousand years earlier. This idea that the attitude and assessment is most important has really helped me relax. Things will never be done, and I create all of my problems. I’ve come to understand that concrete goals and clear progress are detrimental to my health. They’re necessary, yes, but detrimental. The more goals I set, the more clear progress I can measure, the worse off I become; Mentally and physically those things grind me down.

Since they’re necessary—without them, it seems I’d simply devolve to being a blob on a sofa—I must have something in my life which counters the damage so that I can continue setting some sane number of goals and measuring some concrete progress. One of those things is practicing my attitude and assessment. I set aside time for this each morning. It’s not meant to take long. 15 minutes is really long enough. I read through a prompt from a set that I’ve created for myself. I read through a selection from some key books. I write in my journal, usually copying a single new quote from my collection as the beginning of the journal entry. I write some thoughts. I write some observations from the previous day.

Unfortunately, just about every morning, my urge—affliction? addiction?—to measure and create goals creeps into my morning reflection. Why am I taking all this time? (I’m up to something like 4,000 hand-written pages of journals!) Am I getting benefit from all this reflection? What’s the optimum “dosage” of reflection which yields the most benefit? How do I even measure the benefit? Is that page—that one I just wrote, an instant before these questions pop into my mind—worth writing? If I read that page in a year, will it in any way help me? Is the entry for today long enough? Should it have more “here’s what I did yesterday,” type stuff, or less? Maybe I should be also making a small note on my mood, or how I feel physically? Maybe I should… Oh, crap.

Close the journal, and go on with today!

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