Do you know that song by Nick Drake: “Been smoking too long”? A very good song by a tormented singer. In it you hear the destructive energy which is probably recognisable to a lot of us. That downwards spiralling. You can replace the smoking by drinking, buying, having sex, doing sports… or thinking. The latter is the case with me.
Ever since I was a little kid I‘ve been thinking a lot. I also felt a lot and inside my head I started to make stories out of it. Not always positive stories. I remember when I was nine I was sitting in a classroom and looked at a woman who was in a kitchen opposite the school. I had thoughts about the meaning of the life of that woman, about life in general and also the lack of meaning. A kind of emptiness. The first thought generated the next and so it went on. My teacher called me a dreamer.
When I was 14 it got worse. I had even more thoughts and they started to move in circles. They didn’t take me any further, on the contrary, they did me harm. I then discovered that when I was doing sports I could break the circle. And with it I could manage my mind in a positive way. I did cycling everyday and while sitting on my bike I found that it was impossible to maintain the nervewracking cycle of thoughts (also called ruminating).
For many years sports helped me, and still nowadays it does. But I also experienced depressing episodes in which I had a lot of thoughts and was hardly able to move. Especially when I was lying in my bed, in the early morning, thoughts would come up and generate a lot of fear. They would almost destroy me. I was sometimes referring to my brain as a nuclear power plant.
When I was 40 I got into zen training and later Buddhism. This new way of managing my mind first made me aware of how much I was thinking. And how there was no space between me and my thoughts. I was my thoughts! With the training and the awareness I was able to look at my thoughts and let them go. Which was not always easy. My mind sometimes felt like a huge amplifier.
I recently found out that ‘meditation in motion’ really helps. It is a combination of everything I did up till now. Three years ago I started Zhineng Qigong and to me this is now my ultimate ‘mind managing tool’. You might know it from China, where you see people exercising it together on squares and in parks. The Chinese see qi as the basis of everything. Everything is made out of qi. Also your mind and your body (which to them are not separated). So by practicing Qigong you feed your mind and body in a positive way. And you let go of things you don’t need anymore.
A Moodscope member.