Healthy Perspective by Colin Kirts

Om, interrupted?

"The most effective way to truly benefit the world around you is to take care of yourself."

These words keep flowing through me. Admittedly, at first, this advice presented itself with little forethought; in the recent weeks, though, it has taken on the level of sincerity deserved by such a superlative statement.

The consistency of the suggestion, however, has done nothing to add to its clarity. On occasion, there even follows an inadequate disclaimer, "it's important to understand, however, what it means to take care of one's self." Tonal distinctions do not necessarily add to the transparency.

We are all obviously interested in our own well-being; our community exists through a health club. The physical details are quite clear to all of us. Strong muscles matter. Healthy bones require activity. Proper eating is essential.

Many of us know as well, of course, that the physical body is only part of the program, so to speak. Anyone who has ever ventured into the dojo or taken a yoga class is aware of this reality. Our thoughts matter. Our feelings demand attention. Our spirit, some may say, cannot thrive without acknowledgement. Our philosophy, our outlook, this all matters... if we are to take care of ourselves.

Consider, for a moment, what primarily occurs here on Earth. There is a flow, a process. One way to analyze this process is to say there are three parts, a beginning, a middle, and a transformation. Something, in other words, happens, or appears, or grows, or becomes. Something, then, is; it exists. A moment, so to speak, happens. A lightning bug lives. A breath, we say, is held.

And then, often without any obvious distinction, change. Exhalation.

For the yogically minded, there is an obvious metaphor here. The sound "Om", some would say (not necessarily everyone though; it is unlikely that there is a singular meaning to "Om"), gives a voice to this process. The mouth is closed. It opens, and we create a sound. It stays open, and we change the sound ever so slightly. The air from the initial breath pours outward, into the space. Slowly, the mouth begins to close; it is almost time for another breath. We alter the sound once again, completing with a final hum.

Another breath, another sound. Again. Again. Again.

It begins, it exists, it transforms, over and over, time and time again, different, yet always in a similar manner. It's the same rhythm, the same process. Everywhere. With everything.

Taking a specific look at what the Earth does, so to speak, we can see that human beings are a part of this flow. Like the breath, we began (as the late Alan Watts was known to say, the Earth "peoples"; we were created, in a sense, by the Earth, an act one can cleverly refer to as "people-ing".  Alan Watts video

Now, we are. What's more, as far as we can tell, we have a significantly unique capability to see this process, this unfolding. We can literally observe it, and understand it. Do we, though, understand it in all ways? If not, why? What happens? How do we, hypothetically, lose our connection with this seeing?

We judge it. We give it, in other words, a certain value. This happens quite often, seemingly non-stop. It's hard to say for sure if we can even avoid it. Our history has certainly proven it's habitual nature. Regardless, what is clear is that some judgment, at the very least, directly results in our feelings of anxiety, worry, fear, stress, and so on and so forth. Does all judgment result in such an experience? Perhaps not. Undoubtedly, though, more often than not, it does. As a result, we experience suffering; we do something other than taking care of ourselves.

Without our adding a value to it, the process will continue. Life will go on. The Earth will create. There will always be new beginnings.

Can we be part of this process without labeling it, without judging it? Would we experience less anxiety, less worry and fear, if we simply observed? Perhaps... and, we can only know for sure if we try.

There is at least one alternative to judgment. Quite simply, choose. Choosing, it turns out, as a distinct act from judging, is not necessarily easy. It is not necessarily our tendency. Nevertheless, when you've an opportunity, prior to performing an act, ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" Notice the answer. If one appears, take a look; is the answer rooted in some form of a judgment? Look closely, as it may be disguising itself. Whatever you see, just notice. There's nothing to gain from judging a judgment, so be careful; just watch.

Over time, the motivation for any action may shift. You may still experience judgment, and this may simply be the way it is. You may also, though, experience something else, something blank, empty; for now, we'll say it is ineffable. When your action stems from this emptiness, you have likely chosen...

It's quite astounding what begins to happen when we choose. The world around us, or at least our perspective, transforms. We experience something akin to calm. Anxiety subsides. We are available for others in a new way. We are present for ourselves, undoubtedly, without hesitation. Taking care of yourself becomes a matter of witnessing, in part, what lies beneath. What IS all around. There's a process. It's ongoing. It's dynamic. All of existence seems to be part of it, and to be it. We are included, and we get to watch.

However you understand the reality of this flow, simply consider the possibility that in order to truly be of service, you must see yourself. There's another word with which we are all familiar; some would say it can be used as an acronym, the meaning of which may be generate, observe, destroy. The moment appears, it is, and it dissolves into another. Again and again and again. To take care of one's self may not only be our human potential, then, but perhaps our god-ly one as well.

Colin Kirts, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

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