10 Jan 2011

For the first time on this staff week I went to sleep on time and woke up ahead of the alarm. Ahead by 20 minutes not 4 hours. Day 10 of the yoga course, adding the locust pose. I thoroughly recommend the Hittleman 28 Day Exercise Plan. It’s dated, but it’s clear, precise, and builds day by day. The emphasis is on the ‘housewife’ but what he says applies to us all, but it’s not preachy or idealistic.

Today is the last day of the retreat, and our group has no chores to do. Looking out at the still dark morning, I see we’ve had a few cm of snow at Hawkshead Hill overnight. After breakfast:

After lunch and before supper I watched 127 Hours. You all know by now that he has to cut his forearm off. But that’s at the end of over five days of very little food or water, with cold temperatures each night. You know it’s coming but when the cutting comes it’s bloody and gnarly. All those nerves and tendons and stuff that enables me to type right now. How to keep yourself cutting? Premonitions of a son yet to be born to a wife he doesn’t know. When he finally got out I cried and cried at the sheer relief of his return to human contact. The guy is a bit of an adrenaline berk, and the soul searching isn’t particularly deep but it’s enough to add some depth and humanity to his somewhat self-imposed predicament. And it being a Danny Boyle film there are excellent cuts into fantasy and hallucination. Don’t be screamish, watch it.

Today was the ‘deepest’ day of the retreat, with a video this morning of an intelligent inquiry into nothingness, and the dialogue this afternoon continued with a similar depth. This evening after a supper we each spoke, if we wanted about how the week was for us. It’s nearly always hard for me to speak to a group, and today feeling shoddy after the sugar in the meal, and the crying at the film I didn’t think I’d be able to say anything. But I did. It’s been a really valuable week on many levels. Some questions I’m left with right now:

What is the generator of thought?
Will thought, and identification with a continuous self, do absolutely anything to survive?
What does it mean for thought to be at the end of its tether?
Do we only know ‘near the end’ and so look forward to ‘the end’ as frightening?
How secure is our security?

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