Confronting Thought with Reality


It isn’t true that I should be doing things that are on my mind right now if I am not. It just seems that way. I really believe I need to be doing those things now though; they feel so pressing. Why isn’t this true?

In my opinion, the issue is with our misunderstanding of the word action. Action is not our imagination or our muscular effort (both which I refer to as inner doing). It is our body in its physical activity in real time, our actual doing, which is mostly comprised of our relationship to whatever surface we are giving weight to and our other bodily movements. Some examples of these would include our interactions with a pen and paper, our fingers moving around on a computer or phone keyboard, having a conversation with another person, cutting vegetables, driving, riding a bicycle, etc. Our very real-life experience of our other (inner) doings are the messages on our thoughts and emotions, but they are fantasy-based. Furthermore, the muscular effort that accompanies these is our fight or flight response to life in general, aka our tension, which gives thoughts and emotions their physical buzz. I suspect this is what makes us feel like our thoughts and emotions are real actions (because if we come out of our fight or flight reaction, particularly in the neck-face-head area, we can notice we also come out of thought). So, this is the deal with action. One feels real, but isn’t, and the other we don’t even notice, but is the real thing.

Now, because there is always a real action taking place by our person in real time (our body physically occupying space and its other bodily movements), this is the only action we can be engaged in, in this moment (and it is always this moment). This is what precludes us from being able to attend to the other things on our mind. We cannot be in two places at once even though our mental-stories give us a different impression. Our structural head, which is attached to our spine 24/7, cannot fly off our body and attend to its seeming needs, interests and concerns; it must always be where the rest of us is (down to our feet). Additionally, we cannot push our body out of the way as it also tends to feel. Our body is undeniably here in the space no matter how emotionally distant we may feel. This is the solid justification for why it isn’t true that we should be doing any of the things currently on our mind.

Still, even as I write this, my mind/thoughts, the “I” inside my head, cannot believe I should not be attending to the tasks that feel so important. This conviction feels so right, real, and true and is what ultimately fascinates me; something that feels true is not, i.e., my beliefs about how I am supposed to be spending my time. F.M. Alexander deemed feelings and beliefs untrustworthy and put them under the umbrella name, “habit.” He maintained that what is habitual feels deeply normal, familiar and right.

It is challenging to deny what feels right which is why I encourage putting thoughts up against the evidence of our physical reality. If I am doing this right now, can I also be doing that? No. I can conclude that at least for now, I should not be doing ______________________. I can then conclude that at least for now, I should be doing ______________________.

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