Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Learning to breathe - part 3: Some confusions are good

After reading the last post in the series, a friend of mine asked me: What was that!? The face shone bright with disappointment- this was not expected; especially, after the first post that was all about wisdom and knowledge, and, inhalation and exhalation. It is true.

At first this post was supposed to be the 'part 2' in the series. But then, the perspective changed. Instead of brewing the theoretical concept of breathing while breathing (meditation is another name of the same) in abstract terms of wisdom and knowledge and their Spanish counterparts, it was decided that Chris Powell's reality show would take centre-stage. But why?!, my friend asked.

Well, it's simple. We do not live in any abstract idea called 'life', but we do live with several abstract beliefs, notions and concepts. For instance, the concept of hope of something better than what is a distant notion for some to cheer their bad days, while for some it is a belief that forms the crux of their existence. Or, love. Or, happiness. Or, gloom. The abstract appendix to the real life is pretty long. There has to be a link between the 'real' world of action-filled descriptive life and the abstract appendix to it. I like to believe there is.

When we are looking for wisdom and inner peace we look for the sublime elements. We look outside our everyday mundane lives. This is because we think that there can be no way up in the tiers of consciousness through the grisly real world.

Imagine what happens when we stop breathing. We lose the connection with this action-filled world of ours. That was simple to understand, wasn't it? Now, try remembering all the details of the shop that you went to for coffee. Or, try remembering who was with you in the lift this morning? Or, better, try remembering the facial expressions of all the people you said : "Good morning!"

This appears to be a difficult exercise for me most of the times. It is here that the connection between breathing and our lives are lost. We do not think there is any action in the inactive moments. We look forward to the physical action.  Our mental world channelises all its energy and ability towards it. Our mental world lives the way we do. Always on the go, always for something else but the now.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Learning to breathe - part 2: Are transformations wishing wells?

So who's your Chris Powell?

The habit of watching real people living through ups and down die hard. The viewer-writer is always looking for more and more stories to inspire, to tell, to refashion into a poem or a non-fiction piece. Sometimes the lives of these real people whom she watches only from a great distance in time and/or place finds a seat in the corridor of characters she assembles for her novel that she will write someday. Either way, she can’t stop being a voyeur to life.

A character in a medical drama on a television channel once said that people watch reality shows in order to escape from them. That is but only one side of the coin. There are couch potatoes and then there are potatoes who want to be French fries. Okay, that was a really bad metaphor, but do you not agree that life is like a coin with two sides and the connecting joint that has no name?

Most of us flip that coin around all the while, unable to hold onto any particular face of it. Most of our lives are like the edge of the coin- connecting the heads and the tails and existing without an identity. What happens when we actually, I mean, really, really, truly recognize this fallacy of our lives? Either, we choose to live on in this in-between-ness with a sense of never even wanting to achieve either the heads or the tails of it. Or.

Or, we choose to push ourselves across the boundaries of this in-between-ness and into the domains of the extremes of either head or tails which in turn calls for an intense overturning of what we know of our existence. Ah! That sounds like the material of fictional protagonists!

The difference between the fictional protagonists that we usually encounter in films and novels and short stories, and us plebians, is that, they usually achieve a successful transformation, and the story ends there. We, on the sadder hand, always remain tangled; or rather, mostly remain confused and tangled in the matrix that is the process of transformation. So, what should plebians do? Here's a shortlist of choices:

  1. Never venture into the extremes that create confusion and tanglement.
  2. Forever venture into the extremes that create confusion and tanglement.
  3. Think for ever and ever about what to do and hence remain indecisive forever.
  4. Live a thriving life filled with ecstasy and injuries, choosing the opportunities of purposeful living over the ever-present fact of life being a wipe-out show of sorts. (another show I sometimes indulge myself with)
Chris Powell in the reality television show "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" urges his clients to choose option 'd'. They appear on the show with unbelievable amount of excess weight. During the course of 365 days, the client is shown to achieve a goal to lose whopping amount of fat from the body. Now, these are usually people who instead of dealing with some kind of personal issue, had chosen to not care about themselves and participate in binge eating. And then, this guy who introduces himself as the one specialising in transformations, appears. 

This guy, Chris Powell, takes them on a journey of realising and facing some of their well-hidden emotions. Does this show have a fairy tale ending? It does and it does not. Some of these people do fail to keep up the motivation and falls back to old habits of binge eating and/or not caring about themselves when things get out of hand. You know old habits die hard. While some keep trying. They slip off their mark. They get up and they keep trying.

What does one do when one has a bad bugging old habit that die hard? What does one do when in spite of that habit one desires to lead a purposeful life, acknowledging the bruises that come along with the joys of life? Think of a rose, and, breathe. Sit up straight wherever you are. Feel your spine stretching down your back. Roll back the shoulder blades. Look up straight from your computer screen and breathe. Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Repeat till you feel profound as a wishing well. 

And then, maybe, write a response to this post? 

After-thought: A., my husband, sounds like Chris Powell when giving me a pep-talk . Hmmm. 

(To be continued) 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Learning to breathe (new series) - part 1

Inhale. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Exhale. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Inhale. An easy thing to do. To breathe. Or, so it seems.