Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's the point?

Sometimes life becomes so routine that it seems pointless. We wake up in the morning and do precisely what we did yesterday morning with just a few variations on the theme - like making a turkey sandwich for lunch instead of marinated, grilled tofu on Italian bread (along with some grilled veggies - it really does make a good sandwich). We do our morning thing and for many of us it's off to whatever work we do to pay for our shelter, food and clothing. We come home and do the same thing we did the previous Tuesday evening. Or Wednesday evening, which ever you happened to be living at the time you are reading this.

Why, for instance, do I create designs? (I'm a graphic designer by trade) I know what the end purpose is going to be. The bottom line is that my design should entice someone, somewhere to spend money.

That's it.

"Really? That's it?" I ask myself.

"Pretty much," comes the answer.

And then I feel this chasm deep, deep within open up...somewhere inside. I feel a strange sensation for just a moment.

My soul has left.

"Really?" I ask again a little more quietly.

No answer.

So when I'm feeling as though nothing I am doing really is beneficial to anything or anyone I tend to feel separate. Alone. Unconnected to anything or anyone in many ways.

And what I have to get back is connection.

That's where my taiji practice comes in. It reminds me that even though I'm judging my life to be worthless, I may not be privy to the bigger picture.

And today a friend emailed a quote to me that reminded me that I do not have the power to see everything:

Take care of yourself — you never know when the world will need you.
-Rabbi Hillel

One of the first practices I do when I'm feeling disconnected is an exercise from Rick Barrett's "Taijiquan: Through the Western Gate". If you don't have it and you're a taiji player, get it. It's good.

"1. The exercise is best done while standing with your feet at hip-width, knees unlocked, body relaxed and arms hanging at the side. Notice how your hands feel. Take your time. This establishes a benchmark.
2. Now bring your awareness to the fingers of one hand for thirty to sixty seconds. You want to actually feel your fingers, not just think about them. Sometimes it helps to move the fingers of one hand slightly. Notice the sensations in the fingers of this hand. Expand your awareness to the space around your hands."

Barrett goes on to say that focusing your conciousness leads your qi, and qi leads blood flow and circulation. You may feel sensations in your palms when you do this practice - tingling, fullness, pulsing - one of my students described it as humming.

Whenever I practice this exercise, I become aware of the "Qi Network". Qi is part of everything. Qi is energy and if something absorbs and emits energy - whether it's a rock sitting in the sun or me standing feeling my palms - it's got qi.

As soon as I connect in, I know I'm not alone. I know that my purpose may not be defined in the job that I do currently. I become aware that I am part of a network that depends on my stability and strength because my connection to the network allows others to connect. My breaking the connection doesn't just affect me.

In other words, my choosing to feel worthless in my life will directly affect the relationship I have with husband, my children and other people who have to deal with me.

Who knows, maybe a change in jobs is what I need. But I won't be able to make any coherent changes if I'm disconnected and depressed.

I was participating in a conference workshop led by Rick Barrett and Nina (Sugawara) Deerfield a few years ago that really put everything into perspective. The workshop led us through exercises that allowed us to enter into what they labeled "energetic coherence". One of the things it did was it allowed me to let go of my ego-based, critical, judgmental left brain hemisphere, and enter into my observer, peaceful, utopian right brain. Doing this allowed me to feel (not think) and sense people around me. So instead of Mary, (she has blond hair and an obnoxious voice) and Tony (he's so much better than I am at jump kicks) the people around me just were. Nothing more. Nothing less.

There were about 20 or so people. I felt each and every one of them. I didn't think about them. I felt them. Their presence, their energy. And all of a sudden an image came to my mind. It was fabric just billowing. It looked similar to the way a large body of water does when wind blows over it. And the fabric was all of us connected. The amazing thing was that there were areas in the fabric that were frayed, fraying, or mighty thin. While other areas were thick, strong, supportive. And I knew that because we were all connected, the fraying would affect us all. And because we were all connected, the supportive areas would help hold us all.

I want to be that strong, supportive area.

Even when the job I do every day may not seem important -even to me.

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