Friday, 25 November 2016

Nicotine, Physical Awareness and Singing Lessons

I'm a body with a brain, that's all I am. A physical being, a small part of everything.
I've never been a very physically aware person. From a young age it was clear that I wasn't very physically gifted but that I had an extraordinary mind, so I devoted all my psychological energy into academic achievement and understanding - at the cost of empathy, social understanding and physical awareness. I focused on what I knew I could be good at and ignored the things I found difficult.

It turned out this wasn't a particularly good life strategy and a very painful decade, directed by some unfortunate external experiences and a great deal of very bad personal choices in the light of those experiences, forced me to learn empathy and character strength.

One of the things that surprised me about mindfulness meditation (an exercise of the psyche) was that it forced me to start to become more physically aware. In order to bring full focused attention to the breath I have to deliberately relax my body, including letting go of tension that I just hadn't been aware of. A very nice side effect. I've been doing an hour of mindfulness a day for five years or more now.

However, what I live for, what drives my life, my centre and my all, is to worship. I worship with passion and fury, an expression and adoration of wild love.

And because it's the centre of my life, I thought it would be nice to train myself to do it better, to become more skillful at worship. This is why I started singing lessons.

Perhaps obvious in retrospect, but it still came as a surprise to me, is that vocal training has required a new dimension in physical awareness too. Particularly singing at the higher end of my register requires me to consciously hold my body core (stomach, back and chest muscles) in tension in order to be able to reach and hold the higher notes with any precision. It also requires an awareness of posture and breathing. This is a journey I'm at the start of, but one I'm really enjoying.

On the topic of body awareness,  I've just completed a week with no nicotine at all. I missed vaping, but being constantly aware of the "need" for nicotine (the physical addiction) made it clear to me that I don't want to live any longer under "compulsion" to use nicotine (which is what addiction is).

However, I do like vaping and nicotine is a mental and cognitive stimulant that I appreciate. Nicotine itself, although addictive, is not classified as a carcinogen. Any residual health risk from vaping comes from the flavourings not the nicotine.

So I am going to try and find a way forward that lets me enjoy vaping without the compulsion. I'm not entirely sure how to do that. My current thinking is that I will vape at weekends and not during the week. I'm going to see if I can make that work without kidding myself and without slipping back into constant use. I'll probably try it for a month and see how it works out.


Dialogue with my body: I like you, now do what you're told. Tell me what I need to provide, and do, for you to be able to obey me. I listen.

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