I occupy myself.
I’m occupied with myself.
I’m occupied with being myself.
I’m occupied with being occupied with being myself.
I’m occupied with an image of myself.
I’m standing on top of Hirschgarten Bridge in Munich. The traffic is buzzing around me.
I’m typing the beginning of a new article into my phone. Interestingly about ‘listening’.
To be honest, I was not able to listen to anything at all, because I was so harassed by my thoughts or let’s say ‘haunted by my own demands’:
“It’s really time to finish a new article.” “You have to prepare the photo project.” “And when are you going to practice Italian again?!”
The circus of my mind blasted. My brain clutter occupied all my senses.
In a few minutes I would meet my friend Patrick to have a chat about a photography project in cooperation with some founders from Munich.
All of a sudden my stomach is contracting. I feel like I’m completely hungover – without having been drinking anything.
Something else happened the day before that drained my energy: After my first ever full-body Thai Massage I cracked.
The Thai Masseuse: “Relax your muscles.”
Me: “I can’t.”
My body: “What the fuck are you talking about?!”
The massage was very painful. I expected that. But what happened four hours after the massage blew my mind.
I was writing on my computer at a co-working space when my lower abdominals started to burn slightly. I just took a deep breath to ease the pain.
A few minutes later I could feel a stinging pain circling around my navel. It started from my diaphragm circumnavigating my ribcage down to the core of the muscles around my pelvis.
“You have to move your body,” Patrick who I was working with tried to encourage me. So I moved – even though all I wanted was to lay down.
The pain started to hulk up. I was whining and shouting at the same time while my legs could barely hold my upper body.
It became unbearable. Instead of the U-Bahn I had to take a taxi home. The driver nearly hospitalized me. “Fuck no, they wont help me! Drive me home!!!,” I protested loudly.
In cold sweat and tears – after a lengthy traffic jam – I finally reached home.
I needed help.
The only person I could think of was Ralf – the only fitness trainer I know. Despite the fact that we hadn’t talked in ages I dialed his number.
With self-evidence he examined the pain with me. “Your body releases tension. Of course it hurts,” he scotches my concerns.
Apparently a muscle tension or better say ‘adherence’ released amongst my inner organs. Finally ‘loosened’ they fell into place again. “Actually the masseuse did a good job, if this is the result…,” Ralf lifted my spirits pointing out that this tension must have persisted for years.
Just by talking to him I relaxed – as good as I could. I nearly had to laugh about myself now.
You might ask yourself: “What does this have to do with ‘being preoccupied’?”
Through this experience I realized HOW much I’m gripping. How much I can not ‘let go’ of the image I have of myself.
Back to Hirschgarten bridge:
I’m standing there with my phone in my hand trying to ‘get something done’.
It is a beautiful day. The blue of the sky covers the city like a cozy blanket. The sun gives her warmest warmth possible on this early November day.
In the distance I can see the famous twin towers of Frauenkirche. I turn my face towards the sun to catch some UV beams with closed eyes.
When I open them again I can see the tops of the mountains at the end of the street southwards. As the traffic lights stop the cars next to me this view let’s me repose too.
Gentle release is crawling up my spine. It broadens my chest and opens my heart. Smoothly my body is warming up from head to toe – and so does the expression on my face. Even my feet are warm now.
This was a moment of grounding.
This moment on the bridge reminded me that everything I need is right here. I can perceive the magic of the moment if I stop being occupied with ‘doing me’.
What do I have to do instead?
“Relaxxx,” the Thai masseuse would say.
“Open up to the moment.” “Allow yourself to be present in order to heal.” This is the advice I would give to myself.
Why is this all so fundamental?
I’m taking myself so serious that it hurts. I understood how much I’m physically inhering my body. The clinging of my mind manifests in my physical body.
This is the opposite of surrendering to the moment.
I will never increase my productivity in a state of stress. I will never find connection with myself or anybody else in a state of stress. I will never be happy in a state of stress. And on top of it: I will never ‘be myself’ or ‘in my full power’ in a state of stress. Lao Tzu said: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
And most fundamentally: If I compromise my relaxation I’m jeopardizing my health. There is absolutely nothing more important than my body.
I’m struggling with stress ever since. Already in the first grade I remember my sweaty feet. Nobody cared about it during this time. But now I have the power to care for my stress-level myself.
My body showed me several times that I have to relax. In the past I suffered from heart-burn. There were times when I could only eat grated carrots and apple because my body wouldn’t digest a thing without making my throat burn like fire.
A couple of years later I could barely move my chest, because my muscles had built a so called ‘armoring,’ how Wilhem Reich, the initiator of body-oriented psychotherapy describes it.
Since years I’m carrying these tense muscles around. Yoga, meditation and targeted exercises help me to constantly release this tension.
Maintaining my health – more than anything else needs to be my priority. But not in a way of “I have to eat healthy”. “I have to quit smoking.”
No, fuck no. Well, of course smoking is bad, but I don’t want to make my non-smoking my addiction. Otherwise I will become occupied with ‘trying to eat healthy’ or ‘being a non-smoker’.
It is more important to listen to the signs of my body, to allow myself rest, when I need it, to listen to what my body really wants instead of being occupied with what I think I have to want.
A couple of months ago I wrote a similar article. Please check it.
What you think is your ‘goddamn right’ is your prison.
What you think is your desire is your addiction.
What you think is your self-expression is forcing your will on others.
Will I finally shatter my resistance and surrender to the battle?