Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ways To Calm My Mind

I believe that one of the reasons I love making art so much is that it is one of the few activities I do that brings me into a nice, quiet focus.  Tattooing is an exercise in precision.  My brain will stop its yammering to really notice all of the subtle textures of the skin, the glops of ink on the edge of the tube, the hum of the machine and the glint of the needles as they do their work.  Even when having conversation while tattooing, my mind generally focuses only on the work at hand and that one person.  Whatever we are talking about may occupy my thoughts, but the vaster part of me is involved in the tattoo, bringing the hundred sub-programs of thoughts to a momentary halt.  It's quite pleasant.

Painting also provides this kind of quiet calm to my heart.  My body may get quite tight as I draw down equally tight lines with the brush, but generally I feel at ease and blissfully without thought.  It is a meditation I didn't know I already practiced, and a pleasure I rarely afford myself.  To make painting a more prominent activity for its calming value rather than for my perception of it as a worthy productive activity feels really good.  I wonder if I will remember to look at it that way, as a gift to myself rather than as a demanded productive enterprise.  If I can do that, perhaps my manner will become more peaceful and I might find my general state of being becomes relaxed instead of on the edge of anxiety.

I remember when I was practicing Koba-ryu in high school, how much the nights of classes gave an outlet to my physical stresses.  In studying katas and moving through one-steps there was a very wonderful state of being where my mind got quiet and my body was allowed to use its intelligence, taking me through complicated and precise motions to the end.

I am looking forward to returning to a formal practice of physical motion, as I think I have pretty much taxed my body to its edge without giving much back to it over the last decade.  To allow my body to physically move and learn new motions would be a treat.  To experience the joy my body feels with such activity would be great.  My attempts at solo exercise have all come to fail fairly quickly each time I start, and I imagine it has a lot to do with not having any ritual or formality to the practice.  Wii fit by myself just doesn't bring a lot of joy after a few days, since nobody is there struggling with me or playing with me.  There is no built in reason for me to stay with it.  Having the power of othrs supporting a practice definitely makes it easier to do. A dojo will be for me a place of respite from my harried daily grind, and a way to perhaps build some bonds with others looking for a calm and healthy path in life.  With luck, I will have the funds to pursue some training in the next few months.  In the meantime, my first step is meditation - one part of the dojo's practices already.

I am on my fourth night of solo meditation practice, and I was really happy last night to have managed twenty whole minutes!  It was probably towards minute 15 that I started to feel more calm and less anxious about sitting there, meditating.  I will probably go through the same process tonight.  Giving time to myself is so much less important than doing other things, like dishes, or taxes, or sweeping, or even playing a mindless round of Plants vs. Zombies.  This is what I tell myself, but I am starting to break the habit.  Breaking it means I am feeling fairly upset a lot, but I force myself to stay in that feeling of panic until it passes, even just a little bit.  I am beginning to know a little bit of relief.

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