My work consists of observing my bodily movement, just to see what the particular activities are, as that tells me what I should be doing in my life. Otherwise, how could I know? Everything would be speculation, prediction. This shows me exactness. But, it’s unglamorous work. When broken down to actual physical motion of body parts, it is not an interesting story. It is much like focusing on a photograph to see what it’s made of (paper, ink and the realization of a person standing in the space while someone else is snapping a camera button) rather than the story the image is about. Researching any type of material activity removes the meaning of the task, which can feel boring, uneventful.
Watching my own physical movements, though, tells me the real story of my life, which in the end does satisfy my mind. That is because of the order of things, the sequence of activity that life naturally provides because of its foundation in time. This is at the heart of storytelling and is not lost in real life. What I’m after in my investigation is not eliminating the story but the fiction. I like that the truth of what I do disproves myths of what I should be doing. Getting the facts sets my mind straight against pressures that are nonsensical. I say nonsensical because they are not reflecting my true moment to moment behavior, my real path of action. I like fiction when watching movies, but not when dealing with my own life.
Even if my discoveries bum me out because of what they are not, what supports me in the research is knowing that what I find is the real deal. How I spend my time is physically substantial, concrete, because of the material composition of my body and its weight in space. I recognize that my orientation as a dancer and bodyworker incline me toward this disposition, not a familiar mode for most people I realize, but no one is too far away from being able to become aware of their physical make-up as a whole body, and their corporeal movements. It is just a different type of concentration than only paying attention to one’s mental movie. Especially these days, with so much public attention on yoga, mindfulness, the importance of exercise, and our deep understanding that we are of nature, there are more mainstream resources bringing our own physical reality into focus.
My distinct angle asks people to consider their movement not as an aspect of exercise or meditation (something separate from the daily flow of behavior), but as a way to see our actions as they transpire in real time. We don’t realize we have such easy access to this raw material. I am suggesting we use our strongest lens with our naked eye, as no enhancements are required to observe our weight on a surface, and our specific bodily movements by our skeletal structure (head included) in relation to our physical environment. Every bodily move we make (in connection to our immediate environs through a transfer of weight and touch) are our actions. That’s it; they are the only ones possible. You may counter: “But my thoughts are my decisions and choices and those are my actions.” And, I would respond, “Thoughts are physical events as they are firings-off in the brain, but the messages they relay are not our actions. They are guesses, predictions, plans. Unless a decision/choice is what the body ends up doing in real time (wash a dish, for example), the mental process itself is not the true action. It is only neuronal activity.”
Thus, if we want to know our real-life story, meaning, how we are supposed to live our life, it is feasible to obtain that information. That quest may not be as mentally satisfying as following roads in our mind’s labyrinth. However, what is fulfilling, at least for me, is putting this imaginary story up against our physical reality because truth will always extinguish myth. One may personally prefer myth over truth, if it is ultimately more gratifying, but for those wanting to demystify and disempower their beliefs about how they should be living, it is safe to do away with all our ideas and rely solely on a real account.
From my perspective, “shoulds” evoking anxiety, self-criticism, guilt and regret hurt more than disappointment and frustration. I do not promote one over the other, as emotional pain is specific to every individual. I just offer a means to recognize that our physical movements in real time are our only actions and because anything else is physically impossible, they are the correct ones. Grounding ourself in reality can be disturbing but does have its advantages.
Good article. I think we will forever be tormented by confusion if we are drawn to fulfill society’s “shoulds”. We’ve got to sit with ourselves and find out what we truly want to accomplish with our lives. We take for granted being alive and being human (the most powerful creatures in the known universe). We can do almost anything we can dream up. But so many don’t dream up things to do, therefore they never search for their passion nor do they create a meaning for their life. We have to create meaning for our lives, never accept a meaning someone else gives you… they aren’t you so they don’t know what will work for you. Anyways I write about this in my blog wisdom4freedom.com you should check it out.
Cool! I will, thank you. And yes, “shoulds” stink 😉