Saturday, April 08, 2006

First Post

So here's the rest of my blog description, which turned into a lifemission-statement longer than the alloted 500 characters: "It matters not what I am learning, it could be how to play a new game, learning a new science idea, or even just how to breathe properly. The lowest form of this process is often my attempts to improve my so-called "self"; paradoxically the highest form has often been organic, transformational, experiences of surrender, acceptance, emptiness, "the now", or what I often call "that still point" inside me."

I also said something about doubting if a blog could ever entirely replace the gratification of hand-writing in a paper journal. I probably could have gone on forever, but I got distracted by the fact that I was going on too long. My brain tends to explode exponentially with ideas at times, which is rather inconveniently ill-suited to the linearality (is that a word?) of writing sentences. Yet, I am considered a good writer. Not so good conversationally, since the aforementioned exponentiality (word?) lends itself to skipping connecting ideas. My friends are often confounded and ignore me, and I don't blame them.

Anyway, I started this blog today because I was following an interesting idea across the internet, which began with an article archived in Psychology Today, called: "A Taste of Genius", in particular, this excerpt (with my text italics and highlights, and a lame extended metaphor removed):

"A healthy [brain] cell in its prime has a supple membrane that allows important molecules to cross unimpeded... As a cell ages, though, the materials in the membrane stiffen and make it less pliable ...receptors on the surface of the membrane don't collect as many incoming signals from message-carrying neurotransmitters as they should. You might feel such effects as sluggishness in learning the new and recalling the old, poor sleep, lowered pain threshold. Impaired body-temperature regulation could make you uncomfortable in ordinary settings.
"The neuronal membrane is made up primarily of fats, ...[hence] the foods you eat influence the character of your cell membranes. Cholesterol and saturated fats harden membranes, while essential polyunsaturated fatty acids -- omega-3s and omega-6s -- render them supple. A healthy mix of essential fatty acids seems to enhance learning by facilitating the smooth passage of signals through neuronal membranes.
"... the typical American diet lacks sufficient omega-3s, notes David I. Mostofsky, a neuroscientist at Boston University. Within days after you add omega-3s to your diet, membranes are rejuvenated in composition."

The symptoms I've highlighted in red, italicized and bolded ('cuz they a-spoke to me) are symptoms I experience presumably due to fibromyalgia, one of a plethora of mostly out-dated, mostly psychiatric, diagnoses to be found in my medical file. Fibromyalgia is one of those "invisible" diseases, which some people think are entirely ficticious because it's really just a bunch of patient-reported - and untestable -complaints, that seem to happen together a lot, so they gave it a name. There are plenty of theories about where it comes from, if it is the same as or different than Chronic Fatigue Syndrome etc. etc. Basically it's a good thing to have if you want to feel crazy, fall through the cracks, and lose faith in your GP and the Western medical system in general. Here's how I am presently dealing: compensating for poor sleep by getting lots of it (possibly sour grapes about the state of waking consciousness?), learning myself yoga (too socially anxious/competitive to go to a class, especially a class of something that is supposed to relieve anxiety and definitively non-competitive), trying to laugh more (mostly through self-administered doses of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report), conscious relaxation, conscious breathing, and a small prescription of amitriptyline. I tried to go without it for a month last summer and, well, it wasn't pretty.

I digress. The idea that sparked the beginning of a net-adventure [which didn't get very far because I wanted to document it, so created a blog and have subsequently discovered that writing for a non-existent audience who could, in theory (since they are fictional), understand the tongue-in-cheek character blogging seems to have inspired in my writing (in comparison to the woe-is-me, so-hard-done-by, why-god-why tone that infuses the above-mentioned manual journalling that I - too infrequently for my superego - sometimes engage in) is making me surprisingly long-winded and stricken with a case of hyphen-philia (for those non-etymologically-inclined non-existent readers, read: "lover of hyphens").] is that perchance my crusty neuronal membranes are causing the bulk of my fibromyalgical (now that, I know, is definitely not a word) issues, and perhaps I should take an omega-3 supplement. So then I Googled: fibromyalgia omega 3 fatty acid and eventually found my way to this article: Relationship between Chest Expansion and Respiratory Muscle Strength in Patients with Primary Fibromyalgia at SpringerLink, which has nothing to do with fatty acids but everything to do with the idea of why I am trying to teach myself to breath properly (see above lifemission-statement) and my suspicions that my breathing problems cause/exacerbate/contribute to the-group-of-symptoms-I-commonly-attribute-to-fibromyagia (henceforth to be called "my fibromyalgia" because I suspect I am getting seriously tedious now). Unfortunately, I am not having much luck with the breath-training-undertaking, since life requires I do more (but not much more) than just sit on my ass and practice breathing. This is to say, through repeated scientific inquiry, or what I call "noticing", I have discovered that unless I am actively belly breathing, I am invariably holding my breath, and somehow surviving this seemingly fatal activity by taking tiny "sips" of air into my already mostly-full (of stale air) lungs. If I had to guess I'd say I'm using about 2% of my lung capacity for bringing in new air and releasing it back out. Now I'm no doctor, but I'm thinking this: my body is perpetually oxygen-starved. And when you hold your breath, you tell your body it is under stress, so I've got the stress-response going on all the time too: too much cortisol, adrenal-over-activity, tense muscles, grinding my teeth...

So really, I should put learning to breathe somewhere near the top of my priority list. Ya think?

It may have become clear that I am a little obsessed with my health. To that I say, that is only one way of looking at it. What I am obsessed about is my life and trying to make it live up to Ghandi, Buddha, Mother Theresa, Einstein, Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Homer-ic, -ian, iad, standards. I've got this weird idea that I'm supposed to be perfect, healthy, know everything, and change the world, and should have done it yesterday. My logical mind knows that I am a human being, and thus relieved of duty to be perfect (though perhaps not of duty to strive for it). My buddhist beliefs paradoxically remind me that I am integral to the universe, but in an infinitely miniscule way. Oh and also that I am already perfectly enlightened, and so is my dog (or is she?) Daily I wrestle with these...things. And it seems somehow to be both the best (read: noble?) way to go about life, and the only way I can go about life without wanting it to be seriously over (read: snuffed out by any means necessary). So yes, I cause myself such misery. 95% of the time I am exasperated, frustrated, confused, crushed, up-in-arms, or some other shade of what-the-fuck? But (and here's the snag that keeps me un-snuffed-out), during that other 5%, I know - I know - that it is all worth it. As I get "older" - scratch that, as I gain more experience - and especially with yoga - that balance (if you can call 95:5 a balance) is starting to shift in a - let's call it - more homeostatic direction.

Spiritual learning really is remembering. And forgetting, and remembering again in a new light, new level, depth, profundity...This blog's real mission is to facilitate that, to shorten the period between rememberings, to be a space where I can re-visit past epiphanies, insights and ideas, learning them anew in relevance always to the present. These things have a way of jumping out at me, or sliding back into obscurity, depending on needs dictated not by my own will, but some deeper wisdom. That pristine singularity, whatever it is, is what I want to learn to identify with, to eventually heed more clearly than the "I want, I want" voice that is so hypnotic and soul-withering, so that when I say "my own will", I mean the divine will for this existence I call "mine".

Tongue-in-cheek has apparently checked out in favour of "melo-inspirational". I have no idea what this kind of stuff sounds like to anyone else. To me it sounds like the truth, but I can imagine it sounding "new age-y" (for which I have at least as much distain as any responsible skeptic) to anyone who doesn't resonate with that truth. For the record, then, my "goals", as they express themselves, come from a sincere place, and despite my sardonic nature I actually do have faith in the process described above. I'm often as surprised as anyone about my level of conviction that there really is a path, and that I'm really on it. But there you have it.

'Nuff said. Now I am too tired to follow through the net-adventure today. But I think I found yet another addiction. Pretending an audience...

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I sometimes write things that I don't really mean or believe. These are not to be taken literally, nor as definitive statements about me or my beliefs. Thoughts and emotions are transient, and I reserve the right to change my mind, generalize, exaggerate, give strong opinions, or write other possibly offensive statements. I don't lie, but I may say something that's not true to check whether I believe it or not, or to make a point. Call it creative license. This is my blog, and do have the right to say what I want. I'm using it in creatively therapeutic ways. Whatever the reader may think of me and my words, please believe that my core intentions are always good and I never willingly hurt anyone.