Yesterday's anticipated storm arrived. It's raining, raining, and (guess what?) raining. I just talked with a brother who lives near Rochester, MN. He said over six inches of rain fell there yesterday and it's still coming down. Basements are flooding, water is standing, roads are closing, and, since he lives in an earth-bermed house, he's wet vac'ing the water that's leaking into his home. Luckily he has a Zen-like approach to life and handles it all with equanimity.
It was relaxing and comforting to hear the sound of raindrops hitting the metal roof and wooden deck during my TCC practice this afternoon. In the midst of practice several teaching inspirations struck. When my classes start in several weeks, I'll have additional teaching strategies to help students experience and better understand some of the more challenging movements.
Earlier today I looked through Buddha's Brain, a book that was mentioned at August's TCC Teacher Conference. This summer one of my longtime TCC students suggested that we participate in an online lecture featuring one of the authors from the book. I countered with a suggestion that we start a book discussion group in order to delve more deeply into the concepts and practices contained in the book.
The thesis of this book is intriguing. The authors contend that what happens in your mind changes your brain. Consequently you can purposefully use your mind to change your brain and affect your life in ways that lead to greater happiness. Both authors, one a M.D. and the other a Ph.D., are neuroscientists as well as meditation teachers.
Two of the key points from Chapter 4, "Taking in the Good," revolve around consciously looking for and absorbing positive experiences, which then rewires your brain and affects how you feel and act. Ultimately these strategies build positive emotions that benefit physical and mental health.
I found that chapter particularly interesting given a conversation I had with a friend earlier this summer. I told him that I felt better, I thought, as a result of making the commitment to practice TCC daily and keep a daily blog about my experiences. He inquired whether I thought the feeling better came from the fact that I was getting my feelings out. No, I replied, I felt that it was due to the fact that I was engaged in two activities that I felt passionate about and that brought me joy.
More recently, however, I realized that my daily TCC practices offer me the opportunity to sink and soak myself in the beauty and peace of the woods that surround me. The fact that I take a few moments every day to notice and appreciate my surroundings affects me in a positive way and contributes to positive emotions and experiences just as these authors propose.
Ahh. Perhaps I'm already practicing "the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom" per the book's subtitle because I'm a committed practitioner of T'ai Chi Chih moving meditation.