Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Space Between Idea and Action

I’m afraid.

I’m missing something.

There’s a piece of information that just doesn’t click into place.

I’m a mind and body teacher. This infers that I study and teach methods that unite the mind and the body. That unite ideas with action. And I’m stuck.

There is a piece in the link that doesn’t make sense to me. The space between ‘I know what I’m doing is bad for me, but I’m going to do it anyway.’ And I’m not just talking about everyone else. I’m talking about me too. That’s how I know for sure. Cause it happens to me too.

But what is it?

A woman knows that smoking is bad for her. Absolutely, without a doubt, knows it, but still lights up.

A boy knows that being worried about spiders in his bed, in his clothes, on the couch, on the floor makes him act with painful nervousness. Even if he only sees one spider a week, and that one outside in a tree, it doesn’t help. He still worries.

A man knows that his body is getting fatter, and he’s losing his youth by sitting at a computer all day at work, and sitting in front of the tv all evening. He knows it. He sees it in photos that are being taken. But he still does it.

I know that caffeine in espresso shots makes my heart race and interferes with meditation and yoga practice. I know that I need to drink more water because my lips are dry and I’m thirsty. But I don’t do it. Even though I know for a fact that its good for me to stop drinking half the amount of coffee I drink, and to increase my water intake. (I now go and drink a glass of water)

So what is it?

What creates change?

Well, in the case of the smoker. Her story changed when the doctor discovered a hole in the back of her throat. Cancer. He said if she didn’t stop, she’d die for sure. She also suffers emphysema, and needs medication every day to keep it in check.

So do we need the imminent toll of punishment and doom to kick us into gear? Is that the only way to give ourselves the kick up the posterior that we all seem to need, in varying degrees of impact?

What creates change?

Some times its circumstances. If we change our daily habits, we can change the triggers that make us want to do the ‘negative’ thing. (Its not a ‘bad’ thing. It’s a ‘negative’ thing, something that has a negative impact on our lives.) For example, if I start reading a novel, then I like to sit down with a latte or cappuccino. I could change the drink. I could change the place I start to read the book. I could start by just being aware of the circumstances that produce the negative behaviour. (By the way, I love coffee. I’m not saying to you that you can’t drink it. I’m just talking about coffee’s impact on my body. Other people don’t have the same biological responses to one shot of espresso that I do.)

In the case of the man who’s body was falling into disuse and increased amounts of body fat. He decided that instead of driving his car to work, he would walk or ride his bike, depending on how much time he had in the mornings. He still drove when it was raining, but it was a start. And its no story of a miracle cure. He still sits in front of the computer or the tv all day. But he does get out a bit for a walk every now and then.


Fear of death. Fear of punishment. Fear of society’s scowl. Fear of being uglier. Fear of turning out like our parents.

One of the reasons I began meditating in the first place was in direct reaction to NOT wanting to be like my mother.

The straw that broke the camel’s back.

One man I spoke to said he changed his lifestyle because there was only so much of wishing and wishing that you could do. It acts like a pressure cooker. It builds up steam and then ‘pop!’ You’re off and away.

I guess that’s the typical explosion that puts a stop to negative relationships. It’s a gentle ticking that builds up into some sort of time bomb… Just waiting for the right minute.

Sudden inspiration

People say, ‘oh, I don’t know what made me do it. It just kind of happened.’ This is a mysterious one. Some people seem more likely to do impulsive changes than others.

Ok, so there are a few ways to change. But, what makes change so difficult.

Inertia. Laziness. The TV. Society promotes stability. Fear. Better the devil you know. Lack of motivation. Lack of really caring. What’s the point. Not seeing the effect of your actions. Not looking at life from a long term perspective. Just have fun. Don’t worry about the future. Seeing the future as so so far away. Living with the Hollywood mentality of young and free and stupid and beautiful (but having fun and looking good cause if you’re old iiiiiik) But my friends. But my family. But my children. Nobody understands me. Following the patterns of someone else. Living a life a magazine tells me is the ‘right’ thing to do. Not thinking. Not taking responsibility for ourselves. Expecting someone else to do it for you.

I think a lot of our inertia problems, and it’s the big one for me, is that there was no initiation into adulthood. Nobody said, well, now, you will be responsible for your life. Do you understand what that means? Nobody explained what it meant to be a human. The learning parts. The progress of baby, child, teenager, young adult, adult, mature adult, senior. So if I look out into the world for role models, for something to build a future on, what do I see?

Well, personally, I see my mother. Who earlier didn’t do a good job. So I ejected that one.

I see my father. He wasn’t too crash hot either. Eject button.

I look at my grandmother. She was obsessed with cleaning the house, she had no life outside of checking specials at the supermarket and vacuuming. Eject.

TV? MTV? Girl magazines? I didn’t want to be a boy toy. I don’t want to learn the secrets of flirting or how to shake my booty. I don’t really care about the newest concealer or who is dating who. Its not striking a chord with me. EJECT.

So dig further, but it takes time. And slowly you start to find your way. And change is often viewed in the society as a sign of instability and anarchy. Its untrustworthy. So you have to fight that too.

Change. Ever widening gyre. It spreads the good in ever widening circles.

I’m not sure I’m any closer to the answer.

What stops you?
What motivates you?
What makes you change?
What’s made a difference?

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

I'e been biten by miggies. Tiny and ferocious. I know I shouldn't scratch the bites, but the urge is there, and I give the bites a little scratch.
Albert says, but you know you shouldn't, with a knowing smile.. Of course he's read the post, and honestly, I was thinking the same. And then pang!
Its a Buddhist answer. I don't want to disappoint because I'm not original, but the answer to the question is -
Its the nature of the mind.
Know thyself.
The space between idea and action is 'the nature of the mind'.
I'll expand this idea in a post soon.
I love Buddhism.