October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.




Exercising in the Present

My last two posts have been about the power of staying in the present.  Just before those posts, I was writing about how healthy it is for us to stay in motion.  Now I’m trying to combine the two in my life.  Whenever I am waiting around for something, I try to be in motion.

         In the elevator, I march in place.  In line at the supermarket, I rock or dance in place, in my desk chair, I stretch, or stand up and sit down again when I’m contemplating what to write next.

         This is a hard habit to make and an easy one to break, especially if I’m lost in thought.  I’m trying to train myself to move and think at the same time.

         On the telephone, I remember more and more often to walk about while talking. (Modern phones, either cell or cordless, are a big boon here.)  Waiting for the bus, instead of sitting in the bus shelter, I walk circles around it.

         Any suggestions for more?  Please let me know. 


Dogs & Staying in the Present

Speaking of staying in the present (my post for May 10), it occurred to me that animals other than ourselves have no trouble living in the present.

         Years ago, my family owned an apricot standard poodle named Doc.  He was a brilliant, spontaneous comedian and performer.  If you rolled a tennis ball down the long hall in our apartment, he would give chase, and just before grabbing the ball in his jaws, he’d do a theatrical little “Ah-ha!” move, just for show.  Or he’d lie with his blanket between his forelegs, and look away as if to hint, “Say, this would be a good time for you to swipe my blanket.”  If you took the hint, he’d have the other end of the blanket before you could even begin to pull, and the tug of war was on!

         As far as I could tell, Doc never strayed into the past, and he had only the most immediate possible sense of the future.  Sometimes he would sit in front of the cupboard that contained the doggy treats, straightening his paws and his haunches in an attempt to sit as neatly as possible in hopes of a reward that might come in 30 seconds or less.  Other times he would hear us approaching our building, rise up at the window, and then rush to the door, anticipating our immediate arrival. 

         The farthest Doc saw into the future was on occasions when we were going on a trip, suitcases packed and already trundled to the car.  Someone would have to walk him: 1) prior to putting him in the car, or  2) prior to putting him back in the house, because he wasn’t going with us, and our neighbor was going to be walking and feeding him for a couple of days.

         This walk was almost impossible to accomplish, because Doc, knowing the trip was about to start, knowing he might or might not be going, refused to go anywhere except as close as he could to the car.  Now that I recall this, I wonder why we didn’t just move the car around the block temporarily, but it never occurred to us then.

         On trips when Doc was going, and finally got walked and finally got into the car, the future simply disappeared.  And there was that smiling dog in the rear view mirror, totally in the glorious present.


The Present: Jump In!

After reading the first 125 pages of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, I started trying to escape from negative thoughts by moving sharply into the present.  I would look at a tree, gaze at the sky, take a deep breath, listen to a tape, and immediately my mood improved.  I felt connected to the universe and a higher power, and whatever I’d been fretting about grew proportionately much less important.

         This morning I woke from a really terrible dream, and just couldn’t shake it off.  What a negative waste of time and energy.  Then I realized I hadn’t yet done anything to replace the dream, instead I had dragged it out of the night and into the day.  So it was occupying not only the immediate past, but the present as well. 

         I turned on WFMT and started listening to music, and the dream faded.  By the time I came in after my powerwalking hour outdoors, the dream had become just one of those nighttime oddities.  Out of “sight” out of mind.

         My goal is to get as close as possible to 100% of my time in the present.  That way I actually have a life!


Music for Health

I’ve been musing in my last couple of blogs about the healthy necessity for humans to stay in motion, and the deleterious effects of spending long periods seated.  (See my May 1 post.)  In my quest for more information I found a Scientific American article about dance, and how much humans like to play music and dance to it.

         During the evolution of our species, if we needed to stay in motion for our very survival, it makes sense that our brains would evolve to promote motion.  One way our brains promote life-sustaining activities is by making them pleasurable and making us want to repeat them.  This is why we love salty, fatty, and sweet foods.  Tens of thousands of years ago, such foods were exceedingly scarce, so we needed to love them and eat as much of them as we could on the rare occasions when they were available.

         Our brains make things pleasurable and worth repeating by sending out dopamine, a neurotransmitter behind lots of learning and, alas, addiction.

         So here’s a wonderful clue to some of the greatest artistic accomplishments of our species.  Perhaps rhythm, music, and dance arose out of repeated spurts of dopamine, urging our bodies and minds to keep us in motion.  Then, as musical skills developed, perhaps musical activities became pleasurable in their own right.  Perhaps we just wanted to engage in them because we enjoyed them so much.

         To steal a line from Shakespeare: “If music be the food of love, play on!”


Mystery: Why Do We Need to Move?

In my last post, I spoke of how important it is for our health that we move about frequently during the day.  Why might this be so? 

         No one has an exact answer, but according to what Gretchen Reynolds found out, we quickly lose muscle tone and muscle mass if we don’t.  And I imagine that since we evolved to support ourselves by hunting and gathering, we must have needed to stay in excellent physical shape for these life-supporting activities. 

         Even unborn and newborn human babies stay in constant motion when they’re awake.  They weave and arch their torsos, wave their arms and legs, clench and unclench their fists and feet, and rotate their heads and even their eyes.  This way their muscles grow and stay strong.  Then their increased muscle tone prepares them for self-starting practice in hand-eye coordination, for pushing up, crawling, and walking.

         All this muscle building and toning makes them ready for a life in which constant motion will be necessary for survival. 

         Our bodies evolved for a very different life from the current one.  Our new ways of supporting ourselves, via sit-down jobs and sit-down job searches, are foreign to our health.

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