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HEAL YOURSELF WITH A SIMPLE MEDITATION

In traditional Chinese medicine the body is considered an ecological system which functions in a similar way to a forest or other natural area.  In the winter life condenses and in the spring it blossoms, becoming more and more vibrant into the summer.  In modern times we control our environment so that the body is not subject to these variations.  But there are so many cues for our body, connecting it to the rhythms of the seasons, that its chemistry, its behavior and its growth cannot really be disconnected from nature.  We disregard these cycles in our daily lives while our bodies and even our minds and emotions struggle to maintain the cycles.  The result is a biological battle within us that wears us out and dulls our minds.  It is helpful to remember the changes of the seasons and to understand what mode your biological being is in.  That is one of the reasons all cultures have holiday ceremonies at each change of the season.  In the spring for example it is very healthy to spend even a few minutes outdoors each day, breathing in the air, absorbing the sun and feeling the “mood” of the season.  This allows your “insides” to coordinate their rhythms with the “outside”.  It is a very natural form of meditation. You will find the feeling of battle is replaced by the feeling of healing.  Even a storm deserves to be observed and “felt”.  When you travel in a plane you must yawn every few thousand feet to even out the pressure inside and outside the ear, otherwise your ear would experience too much pressure.  Spending some time in meditation of the change of seasons does the same on a different level. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel!  Be your own healer.

NATURAL MIND AND THE MACHINE

My days as a zoologist, canoeing through the jungles of Central America, gave me a unique perspective of how living in a wild area affects the perspectives and perceptions of people. Living in my canoe or in a small tent set up by the edge of a river made me feel like just another animal among many. The villages I visited were just a few huts clustered together every few miles at the river’s edge. The human presence was small compared to the overwhelming intensity of the jungle – its colors and shapes, its humidity, smells and rhythms of life.
As soon as I arrived in the jungle, it “grabbed” me. There was an instant transformation in the way my mind perceived and understood my relationship to the surroundings. By travelling back and forth from New York to Central America, I could feel the effect of each environment on me. I could also see and understand how the people in each area were very different because of their respective environments.
This experience, plus my life-time of training in several types of traditional healing, has led me to several conclusions. The first is that the natural tendency of our minds, (our consciousness – or what I call “attention”) is to expand into the environment and connect with it. This means more than looking at something. It means that each of our minds, in order to operate properly, cannot be locked up inside of us. The mind is not just a by-product of brain activity. It is the biological glue that connects us to the environment.
One of the effects of modern life is to “lock up” our minds into our thinking process. In this way, mind is no longer connected to the body. The body seems to be “down there”. The mind is no longer biologically connected to the environment, except in the sense that we think about our environment.
I have found a fundamental difference in human nature in those societies in which the mind is “locked up” as compared to those in which the mind is not locked up. Stress levels, for example, are higher when the mind is locked up, as if it were soda in a bottle that was shaken. Warmth and humidity have the effect of making the mind more fluid so that it is like watercolor ink dropped onto the wet rice paper.
Notice how you feel inside your home in the winter as compared to lying in an open area on a warm summer day. We have designed our environment to be disconnected. Our shoes and our floors disconnect us from the ground. Our cell phones and computers disconnect us from other people, even as we try to communicate with them. Our packaged, prepared foods disconnect us from picking food from trees and plants.
Our single celled ancestors gathered together in colonies and eventually formed multi-cellular animals that are now considered to be a single animal. Each cell became more and more disconnected from the “natural” environment. In the same way, we are now creating super-organisms, disconnected from the natural environment.
But there are many people who don’t feel comfortable giving up their individual, biological identity, in a sense handing over their very minds to the “hive”. These people require a direct connection to nature, balancing their membership in society with their membership in the living earth.
One of the things I have noticed is that the more removed you are from nature, the more you are addicted to the “drama of life”. The people living at the edge of the jungle certainly had their interpersonal dramas, but their joy of life came mostly from simpler things. On my first trip to Panama, my hosts sat at the edge of the river every evening, staring at the river. They weren’t looking at anything in particular; they were just participating in the world around them. Even when I was young, people would sit in chairs in front of their houses in Brooklyn, “participating” in life.
Things have changed drastically since then. Now we have our televisions and computers to look at. Our activities are less communal. While our society is becoming more isolated from nature, we are becoming more isolated from each other, even as our society as a whole is becoming more condensed and interdependent.
When single celled animals formed into multi-cellular animals, each cell lost much of its function and became specialized (muscle cell, gland cell, etc.). They were no longer whole organisms within themselves. I am reminded of our educational system, no longer emphasizing a “classical education”, but just teaching students to pass tests.
It certainly seems like we are witnessing the birth of a new type of organism which requires a new type of “mind”. This new mind is not whole and balanced. It is not aware of the whole history of humankind, to serve as the backdrop to understand what is going on now. It is designed to be only a piece of a person that is useful for one particular function of the society.
The goal of many philosophies and religions is to acquire a natural type of mind. When Buddhists speak of Buddha, they aren’t only referring to the person, but to the state of mind that he attained and that we can also attain: The same for Christians who use the term “Christ”, really meaning the Christ type of mind. When Taoists speak of “no-mind”, they mean a mind not filled with excess of any kind.
I consider each to be a rebellion against re-shaping the natural human mind for use in the new societal “machine” of each time period. With the natural mind, each person is a whole human, directly connected to the living earth. Relationships are between two whole people rather than between two parts of a machine. Each person is allowed to grow and develop into a mature, full person, rather than be molded into just a piece of a person.
If we believe in developing whole people, connected to nature, then I believe that a well-rounded education is the place to start, an education that emphasizes creative thinking rather than memorizing answers to tests. Growing your own food is another place to start so that your food is healthy and nutritious and so that you have a feeling for where your food came from.
I cut and split wood for my wood heating stove. If I figured out the amount of labor involved in getting wood and taking care of the heating stove, I’m sure it would be a lot cheaper just to use the furnace. But heating the house by my own efforts keeps me connected to nature, especially in winter. On the one hand, I could just consider how to be the most efficient to amass wealth. On the other hand, I could consider how to be the most efficient to maintain the natural mind. I try to balance the two, willing to sacrifice wealth in order to hold onto the wholeness of my life.
What is the balance of these two factors in your life? It is especially hard to maintain this balance in tough economic times. Putting food on the table – any food – is pretty important. But let’s remember that if we put off the health of our bodies and minds, we are more prone to disease and we feel miserable. If you can find one thing to do that re-connects you to nature, such as cooking your own food, or growing it, that will go a long way to keeping you healthy and happy. Meet someone face to face, rather than texting. Sit in the back yard, or at a sunny window, and watch the sun set. Doing one natural thing each day can help us to maintain our humanity in the face of a more and more machine-like world.

FEELING TIRED WITH CHANGES IN THE SEASONS

As we move into Spring you might expect to become more energetic.  Yet many people feel tired at the change of each season.  The Spring brings pollen and even if you are not allergic, your body fights against pollen’s foreign protein and this requires a lot of energy. 

This points to one of the most basic principles in Chinese medicine.  The body is like an ecological community, with each of its types of tissues like the many different species of plants and animals in an ecological community.  As the Spring changes the face of the landscape, so it changes the face of our internal landscape. 

In modern times we try to maintain a constant environment in our houses to overcome the changes in temperature, humidity, etc. outside.  Yet, no matter how much we control our environment, our bodies and even our minds and emotions are at the mercy of environmental and seasonal changes.

This is why many cultures have festivals for each season, welcoming these changes and preparing us emotionally for the fact that we are entering a new phase of the year.  We can do the same, for example, by spending a day in a park for no other reason than welcoming the Spring, or spending a day planting seeds.

We may like to think that our bodies are machines that we own, but the Tai-chi perspective (and that of most ancient cultures) is that the body, mind, emotions and spirit are all interweaving living energies.  The impression of ourselves as a single identity is a reflection of the relationship among all those “elements”.  When that relationship becomes rigid (because we cling to a rigid identity), we cannot adapt to the changes in the seasons of the earth or the changes in the seasons of our lives.

Rigidity leads to battling against the changes in the environment rather than adapting.  There is an old story about a Zen teacher walking with his student in the woods.  They saw an old man fall into a rushing river and the student was about to run to save him.  His teacher stopped him.  The student asked, “Why are you stopping me from saving that man’s life?”  Soon they saw the old man emerge downriver unharmed.  His teacher said, “That man is a Zen master.  Where the river flows in, he flows in with it.  Where it flows out, he comes out”. 

The quality of the Spring is to “lift” up the sluggish parts of yourself which were lying dormant in the Winter.  Your sleeping spirit has been wakened but is still groggy.  As the flowers blossom, your spirit will be affected in the same way.  The inside of your body is affected in the same way as the flowers.  It will take time for the stem to push its way through the earth but soon the plant becomes vibrant and beautiful.  Give yourself time to flow with the energies of the Spring.  Allow your “elements” to adapt and participate in those changes so that your internal environment becomes vibrant and alive.

REVIEWS FOR “THE DOUBTING SNAKE”

“In the tradition quickened by the Celestine Prophecy, Bob Klein takes us to places at once far away, intimate, strange and familiar. The beauty is in the lush regions, cultures and cosmologies it describes, and in the invisible realms it remarkably and simply illustrates. The warrior within each of us in invited to: Wake up; deeply see and listen; remember what reality is really made of; and honor, cultivate and harness our connectedness, consciousness, power, and history in order to reinvent our culture in a Golden Age.”

Michou Landon, Shasta Magazine

“The Doubting Snake depicts a colorful world full of wild animals that take an active part in guiding Steve to his truth.  Filled with mystery, laughter, and insight, this book is a pleasure to read as we accompany Steve on his incredible journey to self awareness.”

Karen Porter, Indicator Magazine

Note: See information on “The Doubting Snake” by clicking onto our “Online Store”.  You will see this book listed on the left side of the page.  It is also available as an Amazon Kindle download.

BECOMING ALIVE AND CONSCIOUS

One of the greatest benefits of practicing Tai-chi and Zookinesis is that you experience life more intensely.  Your body seems much more alive.  Your senses and your mind are sharper.  You can feel the living energy of your surroundings.  Students often say, “I never realized I had hips before,” or they can finally feel their backs and how flexible they can be.  They feel part of the world of life around them because they are more aware of the life inside of them.

There is a Zen expression, “The inside and outside are made of the same flesh.”   When you change inside, the world around you seems to change as well.  And so I am going to suggest an internal change of perspective that may help to change the way you look at the world around you.

Within the body are trillions of minute processes within each organ, cell and even within the parts of the cells.  Most of them take place at speeds and with precision unimaginable to us. It all takes place without our great intelligence or leadership.  Yet we don’t usually think of the body itself as conscious. 

With all this intricate precision the body is capable of, when I ask a student to just move an arm or the hips in a simple movement, the student feels very awkward.  It may take months until he can move that part of his body with even basic competence.  And yet he feels more intelligent than his heart or liver, or than a single cell. 

We are amazed by the complex interactions of many species and habitats.  If we look out at the cosmos we see great precision and complexity in the interaction of planets, stars and galaxies. And yet, as individuals, struggling to get through life, understand its complexities and even move with a minimum of grace, we feel as though we are the only intelligent globs of matter in the universe.

Many ancient cultures, though, believed that consciousness was a natural force, part of every animal, plant, rock and habitat.  We now call them “animists”.  They felt that the force of intelligence was the unseen mover in all the activity of the universe.  It was not a “God” based perspective but simply included the force of consciousness along with what we now would call the four forces of the universe (gravity, electro-magnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces). 

They searched for the forces of intelligence and creativity in their surroundings and so felt a bond with every animal, plant and rock.  They searched for the forces of creativity and intelligence within their bodies to keep these forces strong so they would remain healthy.  To them, consciousness was as much part of their world as was matter.  Matter did not create consciousness. 

Now, what does this have to do with health – the main subject of this blog?  If the inside and the outside are made of the same “flesh” (as in the Zen saying) and you look at the world outside of you as if it was dead, then you tend to become dead inside as well.  When the science of physics looks at the world as dead objects moving about, then the science of medicine looks at the body as unconscious organs and cells, functioning automatically.  By removing the possibility of consciousness from everything in the world but our brains, the world and our bodies become dead to us. 

This is not a religious perspective.  What would be the point of praying to something?  You are conscious and everything else is conscious.  What is praying to what?  It is simply a way of bringing life back to our world, including to ourselves. 

As we now move into the Spring season, try to feel the energy of life intensifying.  Feel not only the warmth of the sun, the sound of the birds and the smell of the flowers, but the “feeling of the intelligence of the world.”  Let the warm intelligence of Spring penetrate your body, your feelings and your mind.  Realize that you are not separate from the rest of life, either as a glob of matter, or as a center of consciousness

WELCOME THE DRAGON OF FEAR

Fear is like a dragon, chasing us and trying to grab us.  It controls our behavior by making us run away from it.  Zookinesis and other Taoist training provides a way to turn fear into power and joy.  Fear is the closed door to the palace of beauty.  We do not run away from it but open it.

The next time you experience the sensation of fear (from whatever cause it may be), focus on that feeling.  Pay attention to how it feels in each part of the body.  Get to know the dragon of fear. 

Fear is just a sensation.  It may include tensing up muscles and a change in breathing, among other things.  When you are faced with a fearful situation, notice how each part of your body reacts and changes.  Don’t try to interfere with these changes; just notice them.  Be the scientist, studying your own feelings.

The result of this exercise is that each experience of fear will allow you to learn more about yourself.  Therefore, welcome these learning opportunities. 

I was taught that whenever I felt fear I should thank the fear for visiting me because it gave me an opportunity to learn. In this way you will become friends with the dragon because you are treating it in a respectful way.

The Gospel of Mary (one of the gospels not included in the Bible) describes this process very well.  In this gospel, Jesus’ disciples asked her what was the basic teaching that Jesus was trying to convey.  She answered that it is about recognizing your attention, your consciousness which she called the “soul”.  There are many distractions in everyday life such as sights, sounds, emotions and thoughts.  Each tries to capture your attention.  The distractions wear your attention like clothes so that you think that your attention is just part of the emotion or thought. 

In fact, in modern times when we talk about paying attention to something, we really mean thinking about it.  Mary said that once you can perceive the energy of attention itself and realize that it is part of you, the distractions can no longer capture your attention.  At that point you are free, in a spiritual sense. 

Fear can easily capture your attention.  So can great thoughts, bright lights or loud sounds.

Your attention is so valuable that advertisers pay millions of dollars for advertising time just to capture your attention.  Your attention is the commodity that television is selling to their customers, which are the advertisers. 

And so there are the “Three Statements” in Zookinesis training.  These statements encapsulate the training that allows you to be forever free of fear:

1. “Attention is not the same thing as what you are paying attention to.”  This means that attention is an energy that has qualities and dynamics.  Too often it is simply captured by every distraction so that we no longer are aware of attention itself.

2. “You are attention.”  At our most basic essence, we are attention itself.  In modern times, we feel that attention is a by-product of the chemical and electrical activity of nerves in the brain.  In this way we think of the physical world as creating consciousness. 

In the ancient world, consciousness and physical matter were equal.  One didn’t create the other.  You are attention as much as you are your body.  But attention was considered to be the most basic part of a human being because everything other than attention itself is what you are paying attention to.  It is as if attention were a person inside a house who was looking out of a window.  Everything that person sees is not him; it is what he is looking at. 

3. “When you know yourself, you know God.”  God is considered to be the creative force in the universe.  Creativity is considered to be the dynamics of attention.  It is what moves your attention from one thing to another. 

Your behavior can emanate from creativity or it can emanate from the distractions capturing your attention.  In the case of creativity affecting your behavior, your behavior is a positive force, expanding from within.    In the case of the distractions controlling your behavior, the control starts from outside of yourself and condenses your attention into the distraction. 

Living a spiritual life requires that your own creativity be at least as influential on your behavior as “outside” distractions (which can include frozen, locked thoughts and emotions.)  As your creativity gains power, your emotions and thinking mind will become more creative.  What you once experienced as the dragon of fear now becomes the dragon of your own creativity.  It is simply your own internal power.

And surprisingly, releasing the dragon of creativity is the greatest fear of all.  Once you gain control of your life you have no more excuses.  You can’t blame everyone else for your problems because you now are a powerful, creative person who can make changes in your life.  You can boldly go where fear did not allow you to go before. 

The main reason this is fearful is that the dragon of creativity is, well… creative!  You don’t know what it is going to do next.  Your life may change and you don’t even know how. 

But having your behavior controlled by fear and being captured by every distraction is not a human way to live.  It makes us victims.  It makes us robotic.  And it sucks out the joy from our lives.

The next time the dragon of fear grabs you, welcome it, thank it and examine your body to see how it feels.  And then laugh!

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM “THE DOUBTING SNAKE” NOVEL

Kano tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a movement beneath some dead branches.  “That is a paca.  Go and get it.”

I walked over to the spot and discovered a paca which seemed to be full grown – about 25 pounds.   But as soon as I approached it, the little brown, creature ran away for a few yards and then froze.   Again and again I approached it and just as many times, it bounded away.

Finally I gave up and walked back to Kano.   “We have to set a trap first,” I said.

Kano merely walked over to the paca, reached down and picked it up.   He held its belly outwards with his arms under its front legs.  Then Kano put the creature down and it bounded under some nearby branches.

“Kano, why did you let it go?”

“So you could catch it.  I’m teaching you to catch paca.”

Again, I tried and failed.   I could hear Kano snickering.   I guess this was good for him to see.   He must feel mentally inferior to me and seeing that he does possess some skills which I do not, must make him feel better.

“What did I do wrong, Kano?”

“You didn’t catch the paca.”

“How were YOU able to catch it?”

“Because I know how”

“Then tell me how to catch it.”

“You just walk over and pick it up.”

“But when I walked over, it ran away.”

“You scared it.”

“How come YOU didn’t scare it?”

“Because I wanted to catch it.”

“So did I!”

“Then you shouldn’t have scared it.”

What a situation!  Kano knows a skill which I would like to learn.   Yet he doesn’t have the intelligence to explain it to me.  I tried once more.

“Kano, listen to me.  When you walk over to the paca, it doesn’t run away.   When I walk over, it does.   Obviously, we’re doing something different.  What?”

Kano thought for a moment and said, “You are scaring it away and I’m not scaring it away.  That is what is different.”

“O.K.   I understand that.   Now what can I do differently so it won’t get scared?”

“Don’t do anything differently.  You can just walk over and pick it up.   You can walk over any way you want, just don’t scare it.”

Kano walked over to the paca once more to demonstrate.   He skipped part of the way, jumped, twirled around and walked in various strange ways.   When he reached the paca, he bent down and picked it up as before.

I had heard that retarded people are good with animals.   The animals seem to be able to sense the retarded  person’s helplessness.  Perhaps Kano’s disability has actually helped him out in this case, although I don’t know how altruistic a paca can be.

The “empty one” insisted that I keep trying.   I wandered about, following the creature for almost an hour, but could never come within thirty feet of it.

Finally Kano picked the creature up and brought it to me.   He suggested we keep it as a pet and told me he thought it was cute.   It was a strange creature with a narrow face, a pudgy rear and slick fur.  I petted the creature and talked to it.

“Why are you so frightened of me?   I only want to eat you.”   I laughed yet I felt a tear come to my eyes.  It was certainly not because of sympathy for the paca.   I feel very comfortable with the idea of eating meat.   Perhaps my subconscious  remembered some painful event which was evoked by this situation. Kano released the paca and once again it bounded for the bushes.

“I thought you were going to keep it as a pet?”

“Do you really want to?”

“Sure!”

“Alright, you get it and bring it home.”  Apparently the paca had grown used to us as I had no trouble picking it up this time.

As we walked back to the hut, Kano said that we could really stuff ourselves on that much meat.

“What do you mean?  Are you going to eat it after all?”

“Of course.  I only said that stuff about keeping it as a pet so you would walk over to it with a friendly feeling.  I taught you how to catch it.”

“Kano!  How could you?  That’s not fair.”

“Not fair?   Why isn’t it fair?  I said I was going to teach you to catch a paca and I did.  That’s fair.”

“But there are morals here.  The only reason I was able to catch it was because I thought of it as a pet.  And now, in a way, I’m lying to the paca.  That’s not fair.”

“Lying to a paca?   I don’t know about such things.   I neither lie to paca nor tell them the truth.  I just eat them.”

EXCERPT FROM “THE DOUBTING SNAKE”

The next morning at breakfast Kano took a small portion of his meal and threw it away.   He did this at every meal.   I always assumed there was dirt on that portion.   But his persistence in this behavior finally caught my curiosity.

“Kano, why do you do that?”

“So you have noticed me sacrificing my food.   The food is what builds our bodies.   One day we will have to sacrifice our bodies.   So it is good to sacrifice a piece of each meal.  This way, we are always ready to sacrifice things.

“Why think in such negative ways – death and sacrifice?”

“I am a happy man, am I not?”  I had to agree that if Kano was nothing else, he was happy.

“And look what I have sacrificed.   Do you know what I have sacrificed?  I have sacrificed my understanding.”

“What do you mean you’ve sacrificed your understanding?   Did you, yourself do that?”

“Yes.  I sacrificed my understanding just as last night you gave up trying to figure out how to get home.   I once understood things, like you.  And yet, I couldn’t find my way home.  Then I gave up my understanding and now come home with ease.   And I am happy.

“I have a place to sleep, food to eat and friends with whom to pass my time.   When the mood strikes me, I sing and at times, I cry.  I don’t know enough to do otherwise and I am happy.

“I am happy whether I laugh or cry, for even in sadness there is joy.  I am happy to be a man, to be a living creature and when I call out to the forest, she gives me what I need.

“She sends me a butterfly to hold, but when it decides to leave, I let it go.  She gives me food, but when I am finished with it, I let it go in the outhouse.

“When I see her beautiful sunset, I let it go and night arrives.  When I have enjoyed the dry season for half the year, I let it go so the rains may come and the plants will grow.

“And when this life comes to a close I will look back at all the wonderful things that have happened to me. I will know that my joy in life would not have been possible without knowing how to let go of just those very things which brought me joy.   And so it will be with joy that I die.”

THE DOUBTING SNAKE by Bob Klein is now available on our “Online Store”.  Click onto the link in the  right hand area of this page.  You will then find the novel on the left side set of links on our online store home page (www.movementsofmagic.com).

THE DOUBTING SNAKE – A NEW NOVEL

The new novel, The Doubting Snake, by Bob Klein has just been finished.  It is based on the adventures of the author in the jungles of Central America and on his decades of training in healing by teachers of traditional healing.  While this book can be read as a light-hearted adventure novel, it also contains the full depth of Mr. Klein’s teachings you find here on the “Community” site. Following is a summary of The Doubting Snake.  It is available from the “Online Store”. A tab for the novel is on the left side of the home page.

An ecological adventure into the jungles of Central America.  The allegiance and sanity of Steve, an American scientist, are tested after he is lured into a conspiracy to destroy modern civilization.  Romance, martial arts and jungle survival all reveal the perspective of tribal cultures trying to survive in the modern world.

Steve’s perception of the world around him and of who he really is, turns inside out as he is initiated into the tribal world.  Now, armed with the knowledge of their power to destroy the modern world, does Steve help the tribe or destroy them?

The Doubting Snake explores how we have separated ourselves from nature, from each other and from our own hearts.  It teaches us how to recover our earliest hopes and dreams and bring them back into our lives to empower and heal ourselves and the planet.

END THE MIND’S SPINNING AND RACING

My van was filled with boxes of animals I had just picked up from the airport.  After bringing them into the facility I opened the largest and heaviest box first.  An eight foot long monitor (dragon) lizard emerged and began walking towards me.  I slowly backed up to a corner of the room and he followed, his eyes fixed on mine and his long tongue flicking out at me.  My heart pounded and I could feel my attention compress into a tight spring. 

The dragon slowly climbed up my legs and pushed his snout right into my face, continuing to stare.  My mind jumped around from one thought to another, one plan of escape to another but my body was frozen.  Suddenly the huge lizard lost interest in me and slowly investigated the facility.  I was still frozen and could only watch him to assess his mood.  He returned, his heavy, dry body brushing up against my legs and then he sat down on top of my feet. 

I laughed spontaneously and, surprising myself, sat down beside him.  The lizard adjusted his body and now lay across my lap.  The animal shipper later informed me that this had been someone’s pet but it had started to eat the family’s chickens, which they raised, as many people do in Southeast Asia.  So they gave him to the exporter.

I had completely misread the dragon’s intentions when he first came out of the box and remembered the intense reaction of my mind and body.  Over the next few days I realized that I related to the world around me the same way I related to the lizard.  I saw the world as a huge beast threatening me at every turn and my mind and body were always coiled up like a spring.  My attention froze, adhering to the imagined threat like a fly adhering to flypaper. 

The sudden release of my frozen attention in the case of the lizard helped me to realize that freezing the attention can be a damaging behavior pattern.  All of us learned to freeze our attention as children so that we can learn to think.  We think one thought at a time in a linear sequence adding up to sentences.  If our attention were allowed to stay in its natural, expansive, flowing state it would be hard to think in words.  We would fear the loss of focus.

Unfortunately the skill of thinking and talking has frozen the attention so that it is now difficult to allow our minds to relax.  Yet our spirits yearn for the natural state in which our attention fills the world around us and fills our bodies.  In such a state my mind could have made a connection to the dragon lizard and sensed its intentions.  I wouldn’t have thought of it as a dangerous beast but as an individual and immediately gotten to know him better.

While we yearn for the original free state of the mind we also fear letting it go.  The result is that the mind is jerked from one state to another, resulting in racing or spinning.

Zookinesis teaches that the mind’s usefulness is its adaptability and pliability.  In a harmonious state of mind, its quality is soft, like clay which can be molded, but not too watery in which case it could not retain its new shape. 

Fear tends to harden the attention like firing pottery in a kiln makes it hard and brittle.  When my fear of the dragon froze my body, my mind felt like a drop of oil. splattering and bouncing around on a hot frying pan. When I realized my foolishness, my attention relaxed, softened and connected to the lizard. 

I learned to soften my attention with the other animals and they became calmer and it seemed, happier.  When a difficult situation arose in daily life I used this same approach of relaxing my attention and letting my focus soften.  The situations seemed less threatening because they could no longer cause me to freeze.  I understood that my impression of the world around me is a reflection of my own internal state.  That internal state is controlled by the balance of a focused (condensed) mind (yin) and a relaxed, expansive mind (yang).  In that balanced state I can be creative and free of fear.

Fear of the power of the world around you deprives you of releasing the power of creativity inside of you.  I soon learned to play with the dragon lizard (a water monitor from Thailand).  His playfulness and mine blended and we were both enlivened.  If we can experience our lives as the playground of our creativity and trust in the power of our creativity, we will no longer be ruled by fear.  We will be able to soften our hardened focus of attention.  Our minds will no longer race and spin but will fill the world around and within us.  We will feel completely connected to the living world. 

I believe that the hardening and deadening of the mind has led to the deadening of the natural world.  It has allowed us not to feel how we are connected to life itself because we feel only connected to our rigid pattern of thoughts.  That allows us to destroy nature because we don’t feel the consequences.

The fluidity of the Tai-chi forms and Zookinesis exercises are like water added to dry clay, softening it.  They heal the body and mind.  Animals can sense the state of your attention.  My wife and I went to a cooking demonstration.  A cat saw us, ran past the four rows of people in chairs in front of us and jumped right into our laps. 

When I was doing research in Panama a troupe of woolly monkeys used to pass by the mess hall of the researchers every morning.  I would make sure go greet them and several would come down to the lower branches of the trees.  I held my arm out to them and we patted each other on our backs and they made little noises.   The other researchers would laugh when they saw this.

 A mind that is connected to the natural world around you and inside you doesn’t spin.  You can release your mind past your little bag of thoughts and you can allow the living energy of the world inside of you.