Maybe it is just me, but truly being in touch with one's emotions and thoughts can be a challenge. I read a lot several years ago about the mind and body connection, and I have come to the conclusion that my mind and body are very loosely tethered! For those who do not feel the same way this may require a little explanation.
Sometimes it is as though I exist on two (or more) different planes. On one there is my mind, my thoughts, my plans, my goals, my beliefs, my spirituality... and on the the other there are my knees, my elbows, my digestive tract, my nails, my teeth, my gums, my hair, my eyes, my nonexistent eyebrows, my strangely swollen ankle, the unexplained bruise on my hip, my everything else!
The truth is--so many things seem to impact my body, things of which my mind is not truly cognizant. I try to tell myself that I am just too busy thinking of other things--painting, walking, the Food Network, cleaning the kitchen, painting... to notice what is going on around me, but honestly, even when I am thinking of none of those things, I still don't seem to be firmly attached to my physical form.
This can be a problem. Consider driving, or even walking. It is imperative to be aware of your surroundings AND how your surroundings interact with those of others who are driving or walking... I can overcome my dysfunction when it is necessary. At least for a limited amount of time. But I am never relaxed when I am driving, etc., because it wrenches me away from my, for lack of a better term, my interior life.
A lot goes on in Cheryl Land. In fact, pretty much anything I want to happen can happen. It is a place of imagination and contemplation. And I find it necessary to visit there regularly. Allan Lokos, author of Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living, says, "Peace can be found within, no matter the external circumstances." Of course, it is easy to say this and difficult sometimes to accomplish it.
In one of Snyder's poems, he quotes a friend:
"I met the other lately in the far back of a bar,
musicians playing near the window and he
sweetly told me “listen to that music.
The self we hold so dear will soon be gone.”"
This really grabbed me because I find that I often do not hold myself dear enough. Perhaps that is why I am always drifting loose from my anchor.
One thing that helps me stay connected to myself is this blog. As Natalie Goldberg (one of my favorite writers about writing) says, "Whether you're keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it's the same thing. What's important is you're having a relationship with your mind."
Making art is another way I relate to myself. And another benefit of both art and writing is that they help me relate to others. And I also like to walk. Musician Paula Cole says, "Walking is magic. Can't recommend it highly enough. I read that Plato and Aristotle did much of their brilliant thinking together while ambulating. The movement, the meditation, the health of the blood pumping, and the rhythm of footsteps... this is a primal way to connect with one's deeper self." And while I won't pretend to compare myself to either of these famous philosophers, walking definitely does help me in a number of ways.
Today I will walk to Lake Sacajewa and sit in the Japanese gardens for a while. I almost always have it to myself. There are benches and fountains and several simple structures and sculptures. It calms me. And then I will walk back home and clean my apartment (which takes about 10 minutes...), open all the windows, listen to Billie Holiday, write a little in my journal, and paint.
I will close today with this from Lady Day:
"I'm always making a comeback but nobody ever tells me where I've been."