Anatomy of a Life: A Daily Mindful Reality Check

What do I mean by anatomy? According to one definition by Merriam-Webster, it is the structural makeup especially of an organism or any of its parts. I am going to extend the word anatomy to describe the structure of my body with its environment, i.e., myself with all its physical parts in a room (comprised of a floor, ceiling, furniture, fan, computer, clothes rack, lamp, book, hamper and tissue box, for some examples) or out of doors (surrounded by trees, grass, cars, birds, squirrels, buildings, for some examples). In both cases, our physical body (ourself) is equally part of its environment (though we tend to experience ourself as separate from it). This marks where we are occupying space.

I would like to address what I call an optical illusion in my work. I am referring to a seeming scenario of our life vs. the real-time physical reality of our organism in its immediate environment. This seeming goes on in our mind-chatter regarding what we hope for, wish to happen, dream about, regret, feel guilty over, etc., whereas our real-time physical reality is our body’s existence (as a whole), its transfer of weight onto whatever surface is beneath it, the movement of our bones, all in relation to our material environment, whether indoors or outdoors.

In any given moment, our focus is on one or the other, as the two are mutually exclusive in terms of perception. It is impossible to be present and in a state of thinking at the same time; strangely, the two cancel each other out. I call this an optical illusion because one thing we’re seeing is actual (our body in its physical environment) while the other is imaginary (introspective thoughts are actual but their messaging relays something about our life that is fictitious). This resembles a magician’s trickery making us believe something that isn’t what is truly occuring. The difference here is that we have direct access all the time to seeing what we are really doing if we could disengage for just a moment from our mental picture.

Join me in making a daily ritual out of recognizing the truth of your optical illusion. Take a daily photo and/or moment to acknowledge you in your physical environment, and, thus, what you are doing in real time. Then contrast this with what you are believing you should be doing with your time. Consider the famous white triangle illusion below: which is real, the triangle or the black lines and shapes? This is how it is with our own mental imagery of ourself and our life. One feels real, the other doesn’t. One is real, the other isn’t.

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