Talking about myself in the third person

Just now, I was reminded of all the beautiful trees cut down in my neighborhood in Norway over the last couple of decades1. I noticed stress come up in me, and then the reminder that this belongs to this human self.

I said to myself: He is experiencing stress.

I find it helpful to sometimes talk about myself in the third person2. Mostly, I do it in my internal dialog, as a reminder that what’s coming up belongs to this human self. It creates a kind of distance and helps soften any identification. It also reminds me of, and is a pointer to, what I more fundamentally am. It helps me intentionally notice that I am what all of this happens within and as.

It’s also fun – and interesting and useful – to sometimes do the same with others as an intentional exploration.

NOTES

(1) When I grew up here, there were trees everywhere, especially tall birch trees. I loved sitting in the shade of the birches in the summer to read. Over the last two or three decades, there has been an obsession with cutting down all the trees here to “have more sun”. (My parents joined in and cut down their trees.) That has created a kind of desert where it’s impossible to sit outside on sunny days since there is no shade. To me, it seems a kind of insanity. It makes absolutely no sense. There was plenty of sun here even with the trees, they provided an important habitat for many animals and birds, and the shade is crucial if you want to sit outside in the summer. To me, nothing is more enjoyable and beautiful than to sit in the dappled shade of a birch tree.

(2) To be more accurate, it’s the human self that talks about itself in the third person. What I more fundamentally am is what forms itself into all of it and notices it all.

Body, then mind

Sometimes, it’s difficult to do inquiry, or various forms of meditation, or even shift into natural rest. The mind is too busy, too agitated, perhaps in too much reactivity.

At these times, it can be especially helpful to do something physical. Go for a walk. Run. Lift weights. Seek out nurturing touch. Do yoga. Tai chi. Chi gong. Breema. Even tapping. Or just take a break.

After this, it can be easier to do inquiry, meditation, or shift into natural rest.

Most, or all (?), spiritual traditions have known this, and often recommend doing a body-centered activity before (or during) inquiry, meditation, natural rest, or prayer.

It helps channel the restlessness or agitation in a way that’s more supportive of these practices.

It can also be helpful to inquire into ideas about this such as: “I have to be in the right state of mind to inquiry/meditate/pray”, “I need to inquire/meditate/pray now”, “it’s better if I inquire now”, “this agitation/distress is preventing me from …..” and so on. (The Work.) Also, can I find agitation, distress, reactivity, or even inquiry, meditation, or prayer? Or someone unable to do inquiry now, or someone who should? (Living Inquiries.)

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Lessons from the Blue Zones: How to live longer and healthier lives

The four essentials:

1. Move Naturally – Make your home, community and workplace present you with natural ways to move. Focus on activities you love, like gardening, walking and playing with your family.

2. Right Outlook – Know and be able to articulate your sense of purpose, and ensure your day is punctuated with periods of calm.

3. Eat Wisely – Instead of groping from fad diet to fad diets, use time-honored strategies for eating 20% less at meals. Avoid meat and processed food and drink a couple of glasses of wine daily.

4. Belong to the Right Tribe – Surround yourself with the right people, make the effort to connect or reconnect with your religion and put loved ones first.

More info at Blue Zones.

Gentle exercise, and gradual capacity building

These days, medical doctors often recommend gentle exercise to support recovery after injury.

And that seems to be sound general advice, whether it is recovering from an illness or injury, healing psychologically from phobias or traumas, or developing skills in just about any area of life – including inquiry or meditation practice.

Use gentle exercise and gradual capacity building, gradually expand what you are able to do. Combine it with rest, and periods of more vigorous exercise when you are ready and find enjoyment in it.

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Wired: More of us are nearsighted

Wired reports that nearsightedness is becoming more common in the US. They offer a few explanations, such as increased short-distance use of the eyes, and not being outside as much in good light and looking at further distances.

They say it between the lines, but not explicitly: Maybe the best explanation is that we don’t use our eyes at varying distances throughout the day, from near to far and back to near again. That is how we evolved, looking at other people and the landscape at middle distances, then at our hands, tools and food at close distances, and then at the sky, horizon and people, animals and the landscape at far distances. Our eyes evolved for being used at diverse and changing distances, and eye muscles were exercised to be stronger and more supple.

So what is the solution? It is quite simple: eye exercises that mimic how our eyes evolved to naturally function.

The best book I have found is Natural Vision Improvement by Janet Goodrich.

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Flow & Capacity

“The single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits, is exercise.”

“The data show that regular moderate exercise increases your ability to battle the effects of disease,” Dr. Moffat said in an interview. “It has a positive effect on both physical and mental well-being. The goal is to do as much physical activity as your body lets you do, and rest when you need to rest.”

The New York Times has a great little article on the universal benefits of exercise: You Name It, and Exercise Helps It.

When I look at the effects of exercise, I see that the benefits seem to come through flow and capacity. Exercise get things moving and builds capacity.

And that is true for exercise at any level.

At the thought/mental field level, inquiry into beliefs gets things unstuck. It also builds capacity for inquiry, and for seeing a story as only a story.

At the emotional level, being with and allowing experience allows the content of experience to flow and move on. And it builds capacity for being with and allowing experience.

At the energetic level, exercise – such as different forms of yoga – again invites flow and capacity. The energies get moving, and it builds capacity for working with and holding energies.

At the body level, aerobic and non-aerobic exercise obviously gets things moving and unstuck, at all levels, and also builds capacity.

And the same is also true for relationships. Working consciously with relationships invites them to flow and unstick, and it builds capacity for working with relationships and allowing them to flow.