Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Back to Basics

Lately I’ve been feeling drained, like my life force is seeping out of me. Absent any other symptoms indicating illness, I’ve been puzzled by this general malaise. Last night I gave it some focused thought. What is different in my life? What has changed in recent weeks? Two things came to mind.

First, I’ve been spending a lot more time online looking at the news. I don’t have a TV anymore, but apparently that doesn’t stop me from overindulging in screen time. Click click click. Read this article. Watch this video. Just one more. I hadn’t fully appreciated the toll that takes. It’s like stuffing yourself with toxic junk food, except that it doesn’t taste as good as powdered sugar donuts. It feels icky. 

So this morning I went back to my usual avoidance of the incessant drumbeat of outrage. That doesn’t make me an uninformed or uncaring citizen. It makes me sane. I’m saying it makes me sane – I’m not speaking for anyone else. The urge several times today to just take a peek made me realize how this addictive habit had infiltrated my life. 

Second, I realized that my usual practices of martial arts and meditation had been shortchanged recently because of some other commitments, primarily helping my grandson with his remote learning every day. That is an important commitment to me, and I enjoy my time with him, but it has definitely affected my daily routines that nurture my body and my inner well being. 

So this morning, I got up and made sure to carve out enough time to spend with some cleansing qigong exercises and an extra long time of meditation. After the school work was finished this afternoon, I practiced with my martial arts weapons and took a long walk. I may not be able to fit that much in every day, but I see now that for me, it needs to be a priority that I honor better than I have been lately.

As I went through my day today, the phrase that kept coming to me was “back to basics.” Going back to what I know works for me. Nothing fancy. Simple. Like ABC. 

Attend. One of my favorite words. It calls me to the present moment. It guides me to suspend my inner chatter and to look and listen. Pay attention.

Breathe. You’ve probably heard me say before that everything we need to know, we can learn from breathing. Breathing is our best teacher, mentor, guide. Everything is in the breath.

Center. We all have some sort of practice that centers us. For me, it is martial arts and meditation. For some it is prayer. Or yoga, art, music. Or a walk. Or a bubble bath (I like that one too.) Whatever brings you back to yourself in this moment. Fully present. Fully balanced. Aware. Awake. 

My straying away from these basics over recent weeks has shown me how essential they are to my well being. I am ending this day feeling better than I have in a while. 

I hope that if you are struggling with all the things happening in our world right now, if you feel the drain of stress or anxiety, you will take some time to identify what is basic for you, and then give yourself permission to honor what will sustain you and nurture you. 

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. ~the Dalai Lama

8 thoughts on “Back to Basics”

  1. Hi Galen,
    The stress, anger, confusion, and frustration abounding right now, in so many varied ways on both sides of the pond and elsewhere, is really bedding in now, I feel with a sense of heavy oppression and threat. The change in the season is kind of chiming in with that too, although I am trying to see it as a yin vibe in its more positive sense (a reminder I picked up from one of your previous posts). I've just had a shower and a hairwash and feel refreshed, so simple a thing, and this is what we somehow have to to with ourselves on a daily basis – refresh, restore our essence – your back to basics. And I would add, cut ourselves some slack and not be too demanding upon ourselves with regard to more yang orientated doing and accomplishing. To fall back a little and see the value in just simply being. So thank you for this post. Whenever i dip into your posts, I always find one that resonates with in my now! I don't know how you do that kind of magic, but I love it. :>)

  2. The opening of your comment is such a stark and perfect description of the world right now. And while it seems particularly acute in the US right now, with the election looming, you are right that it is certainly not confined to the US. I used to live in Bangkok, so I've been reading about the protests there, for example.

    I love your example of a shower and shampoo. You are right — so simple.

    And you are SO right about the need to be kind and compassionate with ourselves. It starts with us and how we treat ourselves.

    I laughed about your resonance observation. In my No Way Cafe contemplation group, we always marvel that no matter what Tao Te Ching chapter we focus on, it always seems to be the perfect one for that meeting. Magic indeed.

    Good to hear from you, Lynne.

  3. It is in finding the balance, the peace within ourselves, that will maintain and rejuvenate our soul's desire. We need to realize that as much as we want to give to others, we can't allow that to deplete our inner calm and source of being. The present moment is all important, be it helping a child with schoolwork, or taking a relaxing walk. Let us be present in the moment, and in it all.
    Blessings, Galen!

  4. Thank you for this wonderful post. I have been trying to pull back from the news and social media too. I think I can do more and your thoughts were inspiring to me today. I do spend a lot of time praying and I started back playing the piano recently, and that has really been helping me be more centered.
    I still feel I need to pull back more; thanks again for your suggestions.
    Sending loving thoughts and hugs!

  5. Prayer and piano — both very spirit nurturing in different ways. Your comment is a good example that we all have ways to center ourselves if we just make the space in our lives for them. Glad you are taking good care of yourself, LeAnn.

  6. Here are some comforting thoughts…

    “To understand anything is to find in it something which is our own, and it is the discovery of ourselves outside us which makes us glad. This relation of understanding is partial, but the relation of love is complete. In love the sense of difference is obliterated and the human soul fulfils its purpose in perfection, transcending the limits of itself and reaching across the threshold of the infinite. Therefore love is the highest bliss that man can attain to, for through it alone he truly knows that he is more than himself, and that he is at one with the All.”
    —Rabindranath Tagore

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