May 19, 2014

Barking up the Right Tree

By Crabby McSlacker

 

So as I mentioned, my knee is kinda fucked up lately and I've been doing less of the huffy-puffy type exercising than usual until I can see the doctor.   This means lots more walking, and, unfortunately for you guys, more meditation-like activities and more thinking about all this psychological stuff and how it affects us.

Lately the blog has even sort of unofficially instituted a new feature I could call "Mindfuck Mondays!" But then if  did that, my own contrariness would pretty much guarantee that by next monday I'd want to blog about hemp milk or bog snorkeling or something totally different.  So, fear not, there's no new official monday thing.

But meanwhile, somehow this post seems to be about brains and bark.


And yeah, this may partly be due to the fact that my camera phone ended up with a bunch of bark on it.



This is because my weird walking meditation experiments have somehow tricked my brain into seeing ordinary landscape that I used to ignore as "background" in a whole different way.

It's not quite as intense as if I were putting LSD in my water bottle; I mean the trees aren't walking up to me and doing the rumba or anything.

Instead, it's more like I'm not just walking down a street or through the park--all of a sudden I'm in some foofy modern art museum with a $30 admission charge, passing through a special exhibition of large canvases roped off in red velvet, and they are calling to me in a teasing smartass way, saying "take a second and admire me, asshole, or else why are you even here?"




It's not just bark, of course, it's also leaves and flowers and fences and storefronts and all kinds of environmental "art." They're all getting very noisy and demanding. But let's just go with the bark theme for today.


So what am I trying to say with all this? Here's a list thingy of main points so I don't turn this into an epic meandering ramble:

1. This weird bark obsession is just one example of my brain doing something different (and more pleasant) than it used to because I have trained it that way
2. I have discovered I have way more control over how I view the world and how I feel about it than I ever realized. 
 
3.  Over the last few years, since undertaking various brain re-wiring practices, I have: 
  • Become far less pessimistic.  
  • Greatly reduced pointless anger and frustration. 
  • Become a lot braver about stupid things that wouldn't scare most people but that scared me. 
  • Found more and more moments of pure bliss.
  • Stopped being such a freaking' worry wart
  • Developed more peace of mind about aging and mortality.
  • Some other things that I can't remember right now.
but....
4.  It all takes a fair amount of effort! 
5.  It's all totally worth it! 
 
6.  And I still  have a crapload of work left to do!
So yeah, I may be writing a bit more about this stuff in coming months.

Because "health" is not just about how many burpees we can do or the nutritional benefits of blackberries versus strawberries, right?  It's also about stuff like being happy and mellow and peaceful and effective and feeling like your mind is working for you, rather than against you, as you go about your day.

There are a bunch of books and articles I've read, audios I've downloaded, ludicrous experiments I've undertaken and bizarre practices I've "invented" that I'm kinda wanting to share. 

Who knows, these posts might even end up being the springboard for the book I've been threatening to write for a couple years now, focusing on mind/body stuff for skeptical over-thinkers like me--those of us who can't quite stomach the typical perky woo-woo new age approaches to brain change without feeling all barfy. We'll see.   But don't worry, I'll still be writing about antioxidants and HIIT and all that crap too.

What about you guys, have you ever consciously worked on changing the way you think and feel about things? Any luck? What worked?

29 comments:

  1. I'm always working on that :-) I was born a Scorpio, we rise from the ashes, lol!

    Latest on meditation. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276959.php

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 19, 2014 at 8:10 PM

      Thanks for the link Dr J, and I did not know Scorpio's had that natural ability... I'm a jealous Gemini because I gotta work hard at all this "head" stuff!

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  2. I kinda fucked up my knee last year too. Make sure you go back to exercise sloooowly. After seeing the doctor and being cleared for exercise again, I went right back to full intensity and got plantar fasciitis. Podiatrist says it's from taking a break, then going back too quickly.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 19, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      Thanks for the warning Robin! One I always forget.

      Part of what cured my knee after years of pain was the plantar fasciitis I eventually got was WORSE, thus keeping me from doing anything too controversial waiting (years) for that to get better. This injury stuff SUCKS!

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  3. Death Ride GrandmaMay 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    You are doing something I never would have thought possible: you are making me seriously consider getting into all that meditative stuff. Saying that probably makes it pretty clear that my experiences in that area are pretty much non-existent. I never really got the point, never quite saw that it was doing for my friends what they claimed it was doing. But coming from you, well, I am very impressed! (It definitely helps that your style has not gotten all flowery.) As often happens, I find a somewhat reluctant endorsement the most compelling type.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 19, 2014 at 8:12 PM

      DRG, I'd be curious to see if you end up playing with any of this stuff! It's tricky finding ways to keep it focused enough to be useful but entertaining enough to keep you from wanting to shoot yourself out of boredom. :)

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  4. Mental health - honestly, it's something I never thought much about until the last few years...but there are things I actively do for my own sanity - and I make sure I do them, too. Is it part of getting older, I wonder? Realizing that it's not worth getting all worked up over some stuff, and figuring out ways to work around it?

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 19, 2014 at 8:14 PM

      I think you're right Shelley--getting older has to have SOME benefits; it sure ain't the extra chin hairs or cellulite or the injury problems. :)

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    2. Oh god, the chin hairs...do you have a pact with the Lobster about taking care of them? I have one with my BFF but she's half a country away! Once a year doesn't cut it. :(

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    3. One of the most endearing things about my parents was that my father trimmed the hairs that grew on my mother's mole. It was right at the left corner of her nose, and she was right-handed, and by the time they were married she'd jabbed herself with the nail scissors a few too many times.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  5. Yup, I've overcome one of my biggest fears recently (not my BIGGEST fear, I suppose but the one that had the biggest effect on my day to day life) and that feels pretty good. As for trees and other parts of nature - they can teach us a lot about ourselves for sure. For me, getting out there and noticing things is the most calming part of my day.. and it stays with me. I love all your wonderful textured images.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 19, 2014 at 8:16 PM

      Hilary, congrats on overcoming a big fear! I'm still working on a bunch of 'em, but making more progress than in the past. And your blog is so full of stunning photos, I'd be really surprised if you weren't having a pretty wonderful experience out there taking them.

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  6. I could definitely use more mellow and happy...as I'm sure most people could.

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  7. Wow! Beautiful post, Crabby :) Just three words: write the book!!!

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  8. I agree with ultrakaz - write the book!!
    I just tell myself everyday that I can choose to be happy or I can be cranky - some days the happy wins out (80-90% of the time maybe) and other days I try not to piss to many people off or scare too many people with my attitude!

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  9. I am a work in progress always - always always always working on this!!! Life attacks & I go backwards only to try again! I am a Scorpio too so DR. J speaks for me!

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  10. I'm in the process of trying to figure out what makes me tick...to name the negative feelings I have about...me mostly, see them in a different light, and try to turn it into something positive and meaning. Wading through the bs is difficult sometimes though and catches my ass up short.

    Sorry about the fucked up knee. And like Kim said, WRITE THE BOOK!

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  11. Yes, i work on it, and my way is prayer, which may not work for everyone, obviously. It does work for me, snd i have a long, long way to go still.

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  12. Yep, my whole body has been in Heal Me mode for a couple of years and without meditation I think I would have run {limped) screaming for the hills. It's helped me make some changes (the old reliable:
    "release what doesn't serve any more" and stop thinking so much about stuff (detach from the outcome) and accept that it's okay that I'll make little tiny waves in this world and nothing more.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 19, 2014 at 8:18 PM

      Nancy, such wise words! And some great advice for those of us in Hurry the Hell Up and Heal Me Mode (OK, I embellished). And when tiny waves combine with other tiny waves, they can have a huge impact!

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  13. Crabby McSlackerMay 19, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    And sorry not to get to every comment, but thanks you guys for such great and encouraging words! But be very afraid, you may have succeeded in nudging me closer towards this book thing. :)

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  14. Bark is beautiful! To answer two of your questions, yes and yes. For the third question, I think what works is a very individual thing. I love reading about what works for you…it give me ideas.

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  15. Hiya, I've just started documenting my 6 week fitness challenge on my blog, would be great if you'd give it a read!

    http://mumblesofbumble.blogspot.co.uk

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  16. Consciously worked on changing the way I think and feel? I think it was mostly unconscious, with a little semiconsciousness thrown in for good measure. Talking to people is much less stressful than it was in high school and college, but I didn't notice myself doing anything to change it.
    Mostly I'm really good at being happy, but it's natural talent.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  17. This area of my life definitely needs some work. Keep posting, it is greatly appreciated.

    LynM

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  18. I tried to loss weight for a while and went on and off but a few weeks ago i found this thing called green coffee (iv'e never heard of it before...) and I feel like its really helping me... I've been taking it for around two weeks n every morning aroung half an hour before breakfast and I kinda feel like I might have lost a few pounds because of it... I got it on this web site call greencoffeeroad.com I'm going to get another pack and hopefully it'll still do the job and keep me happy about it...

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  19. Those pix sorta blew my mind open in a good way. See the same things differently sorta.
    Groovy!
    K in NYC

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