“We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.”-Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi
Sit up straight brothers, I’m gonna put lead in your pencils. In america our posture sucks for a number of reasons; the biggest reason, we don’t know why we woke up today. It was probably because your alarm clock went off, but that doesn’t put lead in your pencil. Next, you most likely did a bunch of monotonous tasks like put on a pot of coffee, turn on the news, and, “Oh, I’ve got five minutes, sup youjizz.com.” You did all of that, why? Because you didn’t know what to do before class or work-and why are you going to work again?
Look there’s nothing wrong with having a morning routine, or a job. I have a morning routine and I love it, but that’s because I’m waking up to do things that matter, like playing music, learning about nutrition, and exploring what’s really going on inside of us all. My routine helps me get to a state of mind that is creative and spontaneous, which makes the things I like to do even more spiritual and pleasurable. There used to be a time when I tried to force a morning routine to get to places I didn’t feel like being, but that was dreadful. Who the fuck wants to get up early to try and get pumped for some bullshit job thats unfulfilling and consumes a third of your day? Not me. Then we try to sleep for a third of the day just so we have energy to do shit we don’t want to do and yet we can’t sleep once we lay down, or we sleep way too much and still feel tired. It’s ridiculous and it’s our own faults.
So how do we fix this perpetual state of drag and dread? The answer is slowly and methodically. We will not have the poise of Brad Pitt, or Buddha overnight, but change will happen with time. So, let us not waste the time we do have to invoke change. Stop; change is a bad word. I don’t want to change who you are, I love that person, and so do many other people. What I want to help you with is cultivating that awesomeness inside of you and help it evolve.
1) You don’t have to save the world, but you do have to have a purpose for living in it.
Whether its philanthropy or physics, music or movies, or simply tinkering with cars, do it. Do more of it. There is no excuse to not make life about what you love in some way, shape, or form. All those bills and random errands that we pretend are super important aren’t, and even if you focus your free time into doing things you want to do you will still get those other things done (check out Parkinsons Law).
Think about all of the times you procrastinate, you still get it done. True, it may not be your best work, but fuck that work if its meaningless. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m saying put all that shit second to why you wake up in the morning. You put yourself here to create, experiment, and learn, so its time to start.
2) Own your posture.
In The Dude and The Zen Master Jeff Bridges and his friend Bernie Glassman, who is a real Zen Master, discuss Zen in very American terms. One of the chapters is titled, “It’s Down There Somewhere, Let Me Take Another Look.” This chapter discusses how we try so hard to change everything but ourselves. What we fail to realize is that the problem isn’t the world, it’s us. We have let it come to the state it is in and we need to quit blaming everyone for our situations. We always try to run away to some “other shore.” We get there and, “Oh, this isn’t right either, I will try that one” The problem is inside. We must be the change we wish to see in the world.
That body is yours, and when you’re slumped, or tilted, you’re not even in your own body-but, where the hell are you supposed to be? If you are somewhere you don’t want to be, make it fun somehow, or use that time to write, or plan, or explore something you do care about. Thinking can be useful, but not when its a constant cycle of the same thoughts and scenarios. That’s simply a waste of energy that could be better used, well anywhere. We all need to stop being wasteful. Sit up straight, get some air into your lungs, and show people that YOU are here to do something.
3) Become aware
To develop great awareness we must first be aware of ourselves. Think of one of the best times of your life for a few minutes. It only needs to be a simple memory, but try to relive it.
How does your body feel? Probably, light and loose, and you may even feel some energy circulating. This is good. Now try a terrible memory and notice the changes in your body. Your stomach may tighten, your breath probably got shallow, and overall, you just don’t feel good.
The reason for this is the psycho-somatic connection our bodies and minds have. Our physical body influences our minds just as much as our minds influence our physical bodies. This feature of consciousness can be used to drive creativity and spontaneity, and overall it can help you feel like the person you want to be, you. There is obviously another side to this coin; you can allow your thoughts and feelings to rule your posture, and environment, in a negative way. Just simply allow every little negative possibility you create to be a reason for inaction.
Stanislavski, the famous Russian actor and director, made it his life’s mission to find a way to teach actors how to experience, and express, true emotions on stage. He described his search as, “the conscious means to the unconscious.” He called it, “The Method of Physical Action,” and the main idea is that the inner world is expressed through the outerworld. This is why monks are chill as fuck. They have cleared up all that garbage inside and gotten down to what really matters. For most of them it is helping other people do so too.
Let’s try and clear up the bullshit that we have allowed to clutter our minds. All I can really do is get you started, so here’s an idea.
Get up early on a day off and give yourself 3-4 hours before you “have to do something.” Next, sit or lay down and feel your breath. Take some deep breaths and do some stretching to work out that tension. When you inhale feel yourself expanding and when you exhale feel yourself collapsing. Take a minimum of 15 minutes to actually feel like you belong in your body. You don’t have to touch your toes or roll into some fancy yoga pose, just get out of your head and into your body for a change.
When you feel nice and loose you can eat a nice breakfast, drink coffee and continue to relax or move to Phase II, but under no circumstances should you read or watch TV. This isn’t necessarily your new routine, just a new day.
Think about what things you really love to do, and what makes you happy. Write it down. Take the time to explore this and don’t just write down, “be with my girlfriend,” or something lame like that. This is about you and yourself, so your writing needs to be about something skillful and, hopefully, child-like.
Lastly, start doing something you love…TODAY FUCKER! The time is now, and tomorrow never comes! Even if its just buying a book on the thing(s) you love, you need to begin nourishing it/ them. There will still be ups and downs, but they make a hell of a lot more sense when you’re experiencing them for a reason.
Walk tall brothers and sisters. Waste not a moment, and above all, LOVE.
Peace be the journey,
Cool links and further reading:
The Dude and The Zen Master by Bernie Glassman
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi
Elliot Hulse “The Truth about Deep Breathing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biFfR2sZGvA