This morning, while practicing “Playfulness of Thoughts”–an exercise in Dynamics of Time and Space (DTS)–I discovered just how ‘unplayful’ I’m feeling these days.
This exercise starts with “relax into the activity of mind” and then proceeds with a description of the state of mind we are likely to encounter: “The emotional tone may be one of hopelessness, linked to the sense that energy is being squandered in thought patterns that lead nowhere”.
This seems an accurate description for much of my life, but particularly since my blood pressure shot up at some time in the past two months (from 128/60 in January) to 168/60 at my annual physical last week. (And in the past few days it has hit more than 190/90 several times.) I’m discovering that a pessimistic state of mind has become my constant companion; a threat of unwanted but uncontrollable eventuality hovering just over the horizon.
My doctor of Oriental Medicine suggested that this dramatic rise may be caused by stress and that in addition, now each time I’m waiting for the cuff to tighten and deliver the bad news, I am probably doubling down on that stress. I told her that this didn’t ring true for me. After all, I am quite engaged in life and have a daily practice that helps me to feel present to life’s opportunities (and sometimes I even kind of relax).
That’s a bit of background to this morning’s practice of the “Playfulness of Thought” exercise in DTS (page 252), which is a book I have been reading each morning for several months.
The exercise continues that, as we become familiar with the state of mind that arises as we “relax into the activity of mind”, we may notice that “we are lost in heaviness, and are not even concerned with finding a way out”.
Recognizing this heaviness, I found that by using the concept of ‘playful’ in playful ways–and noting that the gravity of my heavy thoughts “operates only within their own domain”–I felt myself growing more open and receptive to the possibility that I could respond differently (more ‘playfully’) to my present situation; and that the aura of dread waiting ghoulishly at my side was just another “heavy thought” and therefore had no power outside its “own domain”.
The exercise continued “As you grow more skilled in the play of mind, each new thought, sensation, or emotion can be your teacher and guide, opening to a knowledge that is more objective and complete.” (DTS, p 254). And a bit later, instead of just “opening to a knowledge” (of which we are the recipient), we can shift “the energy of thoughts to a lighter way of being” and “practice releasing the energy of thoughts into knowledge”.
I think this last suggestion—that we can give energy into knowledge–finally allowed me to relax and recognize that stressful concern about my own health and future had taken possession of my psyche.
Perhaps I experienced a psychological equivalent of the shift (important for many of us) from a proprietorial determination to exploit Earth’s resources for our own benefit to a concern for the health of Mother Earth and for all our fellow creatures; as a recognition that even when concerned with our own embodiment and mortality, it feels better to be someone who shares than someone who is grasping after personal security.
I’ve grown used to believing that any positive experience–of relaxation, insight, and holistic comfort–is a ‘glimpse’ of a more natural way of being. And–while I’m pretty sure that something physical is going on in my body–it seems possible that stressful expectation, that the next reading will also be elevate, may be contributing a negative, self-fulfilling element to the outcome.
The feelings of relaxation I experienced this morning felt like I was entering a forgotten play-ground that I had forgotten, but which was immediately familiar the moment I stepped through its gate into a primordial realm of comfort and ease.
I am now nodding (playfully) in the direction of the sigh of pleasure I felt this morning, which was accompanied by appreciation for being alive on this green and blue planet. The exact hue, of course, depends on whether we are floating in orbit or rolling in a lush meadow full of flowers . . .
And so it is, and so we let it be, forever and forever, Amen.
Isn’t it nice that we, personally, with all our stresses and fixed ideas, don’t have to ride these same rails forever-and-ever? Neither in this lifetime nor at the next transfer point.