Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Power of NOT-Doing

I've been thinking quite a bit about yoga of all things, lately. It's been in the context of thinking about neuroplasticity in general, on the Neurotonics blog, but in the process I think I may have been practicing my own advice over these last few weeks, not so much a form of letting go, rather a deliberate taking of the reins of life (gently) from the hands of the person who ordinarily drives the cart that makes the ruts in my own brain; she is Working me, not Just-veging me. Just veging-me practices staying out of old ruts by creating new context.

In line with the tenets of neuroplasticity AND yoga, the steps I've discovered so far for navigating personal change are:

1. Recognize that something is trying to change.
(For me, this is usually a feeling of being weighed down and struggling. I really dislike that feeling and am sensitized to it, but others may have to actively learn to recognize it.)

2. Stop reinforcing old behavior by repeating it, make some temporal space for some new behavior, then wait for it to emerge on its own.
Stop making every day cart ruts even deeper than they already are. Just stop. See how it feels. (In my case, it always feels like a void, something neither good nor bad.)

3. Practice breathing slow and deep.
Conscious breathing can help one navigate/dispel any associated void-related anxiety. Be kind to the animal part of the brain. (Read the last paragraph here.) Give your brain a job to do, and accompany it while it does its job.

Maybe this seasonal retreat is my yoga-esque way of "practicing" the inevitability, the eventuality of retiring and adapting to lack of outside pressure. Maybe it's a version of Matthias' "metacognition".

Just-veging me actually has a Happy Retirement fantasy it loves to show Working-me: I picture having moved to a sunny place, a drier climate with more distinct seasons but still mild, lots of fruit growing in nearby fields and sold in stands along the road. I buy a little place to live, drenched with light pouring in from skylights and windows in all seasons. I paint all the walls a clean stark white color, white walls against brightness and green and azure blue from a nearby lake reflecting a deep blue sky framed by sage hills that are several other colors of blue.

I maintain a few comfortable/comforting pieces of furniture but tolerate Absolutely No Clutter. Instead I enjoy spaciousness, tidy bookshelves, a clear desk, and a distinct lack of dust smell. I still have a computer, but spend less time at it. I have clean wooden floors (make that cork or bamboo tile), and I spend a few hours every day lying upon one or another of them, feeling supported by its perfectly flat coolness, breathing, feeling my body, practicing moving it, enjoying how well it supports its own as well as my life. I take walks outside, around the clear blue lake that will be in the middle of town (no remote wilderness for me, thanks..).

In early mornings I paint pictures, large canvases full of riotous color that externalize the kaleidoscopic images my mind commonly comes up with to show me (raw neural function, I'm pretty sure). I don't know yet if these productions sell or just stack up in the garage (which is empty because I prefer to ride a bicycle, no longer care to own a car). I can't see that part. Probably it won't matter much either way by then - being ecstatically in every moment will.

In the evenings I watch wide screen hi-def TV.

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