The Journal of Laura Doom

What goes on during unsupervised periods of withdrawal
12/28/2008 07:15 p.m.

Mostly crap...

Meditation is beyond me - transcendental meditation some way further off. The closest I can get to it is through physical exercise, primarily swimming. Repetitive behaviour, and, eventually (20 minutes +), complete concentration on bodily functions - limb movements, breathing & other physiological processes, sensations associated with contact with water...I lose any meaningful relationship with time, and immerse myself in rhythms and patterns, until the distinction between me and the environment is, well, indistinguishable. I lose any meaningful relationship with 'mind'.

It's been a while since I swam indoors - my skin has developed a sensitivity to chlorine - and swimming in open water makes agoraphobes like me feel excessively vulnerable. So now I lie out on the floor and imagine myself swimming. It's addictive, but unlike other addictions, makes returning to the 'real' world a more manageable experience.

Some sport psycho/physio trainers believe that 'vicarious' exercise has a positive effect upon fitness levels and performance in competition, and there is (somewhere, though I can't quote the sources) research data that supports this hypothesis.

However, as the distance between the 'real' experience and the present vicarious regime increases, so the benefits (to my mental health) diminish. This inverse correlation is similar to that relating to the 'forgetting' of familiar faces by family members seperated over extended periods.

Most research into somatic memory deals with victims of trauma (somatic dissociation), where body and mind conspire (in the victim's best interests?) to introduce 'reflex' behaviours designed as self-protective measures. No-one really knows to what degree our bodies are instrumental in the mundane processes of registration, storage and retrieval of memories, but it's evidently not 'all in the mind'.

This entry requires euthanasic treatment to prevent it wandering off into a yawning chasm of trivial pursuits...

I am currently dissolving.

I am listening to more of the same - the stuff that makes silence unattainable.

Member Comments on this Entry
Posted by George Hoerner on 12/30/08 at 01:29 AM

But silence is so refreshing. If only one could stop the mind as well. I come close but not very often.

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Posted by Kathleen Wilson on 12/31/08 at 01:46 AM

I have written many poems "in the pool" which were a result of the kind of self distancing you describe, but I agree both about chlorine and vulnerable large watery environment experience... so walking can do it, and if outdoors I suggest a botanic garden type environment, relatively enclosed, safe, but huge, and walking fast in many directions not knowing or keeping track of where you are going (often in circles?) it can be exhilirating. I do about an hour of yoga a day... which also can be amazing... classes that don't care what you are doing are good, just do what you want over and over... and during the term break I go to the room where we do it, when it is empty and get lost in repetive motion that I feel like doing whatever poses... and time goes away and inspiration rises... you can also do this at home, but I like either a big empty room with atmosphere, or a room full of other people who are doing such and don't care what you do.

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