Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Tao of Pooh

On the top of my iGoogle page (if you don't have one, I recommend it if only for the virtual cat you can add from the labs. It always makes me smile) I have the list of Grateful Pooh's Top 5 Zen Tips:

1) Be happy and those around you will be happy...thus bettering our society.
2) To be happy you must accept yourself as you are.
3) Remember that your emotions and reactions to others are totally in your control.
4) Do not build a wall around you, open yourself to all that life offers.
5) Stop and Breath the Air - Think About all the living things that make the air what it is.

What a wonderful reminder of how to live our lives, don't you think?

These are from The Tao of Pooh written by Benjamin Hoff. Hoff uses the characters from A.A.Milne's Winnie the Pooh to introduce readers to Taoism. This book had a profound effect on me. I found that I am VERY MUCH a Tigger. About Tigger, Hoff says:

There's nothing wrong with not being able to whistle, especially if you're a fish. But there can be lots of things wrong with blindly trying to do what you aren't designed for. Unfortunately, some people aren't so wise, and end up causing big trouble for themselves and others. The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not. To demonstrate what we mean, we can think of no one better than Tigger, who doesn't know his limitations ('Tiggers' can do everything'), which brings him in lots of trouble. Piglet instead knows his limitations and that's what makes him sometimes more brave than you would expect from such a small animal. So, the first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it. Inside the Bouncy Tigger is the Rescuer who knows the Way, and in each of us is something Special, and that we need to keep

This text is taken from 'The Tao of Pooh' by Benjamin Hoff, published by Mandarin Paperbacks. Also published by Mandarin Paperbacks and written by Benjamin Hoff; 'The Te of Piglet'.

After reading this book I learned that I often don't know my limitations and indeed that does bring me lots of trouble. One prime example is in my four year journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Early on I had no idea how to listen to my body. Despite all the doom and gloom I read and was told by my first Rheumy I was convinced that I should be able to do anything and everything that I had done pre-diagnosis. I can't help- now- but wonder how many flares I brought on working 18 hour days and working a hundred days in a row without so much as a day off. How often did I send my immune system into hyper drive by overusing my joints carrying two heavy trays of 8 plates of food each or carrying 2-3 cases of beer to the bar at once or 2-3 50lb boxes of books to the shelves at once? What damage did I do supplementing my constant coffee intake with energy drinks? And for what? Was it to prove to myself that "they" were wrong and that my life wasn't going to change due to RA? Was it because my head was in a "I have to do this so we can pay our bills" mode? I will never have those answers. I am okay with that because I have removed myself from that cycle. I do sometimes look back and think "What was I thinking?" but I follow that with "Thank goodness I grabbed the opportunity to get out!"

I still over-do it at times. I put pressure on myself to finish something *today* that I could finish tomorrow. It's the north east "city" mentality in me that hasn't fully adjusted to a slower way of life yet. I still tend to push myself to the point of exhaustion- but I have learned that when I am treading that line it is time to STOP. I have learned to relax and give myself some quiet time every single day. I no longer drop into bed and fall right asleep, instead I spend time reflecting on my day. I have learned that I don't have to be perfect and that I *can* slow down. I make a concerted effort each day to give thanks for the day and to let go of whatever is on my mind before I close my eyes at night. Finally I can go to sleep and shut off today and tomorrow and the next day and everything that I need to do and really let my sleep rejuvenate me. I have learned to listen to my body when the pain level rises and take care of myself.

I am still a Tigger. I think it's a part of being a bit of an over-achiever. To serve as a reminder of the bad part of being a Tigger- I had him tattooed on my body shortly after reading the book. I see it and it serves as a reminder to find my limits. It may not always work- but many times it does.

My next read is The Te of Piglet. It's time to see if I can be less of a Tigger and more like Piglet. If nothing else- it will give me something to think about. The Te of Piglet says of Tigger:

Well, it takes all kinds to make a mess.

The West is full of Tiggers--restless seekers of instant gratification, larger-than-life overachievers. The West idolizes them because they're Bouncy and Exciting. Maybe even a bit too exciting. And they're becoming more exciting all the time. It seems that it's no longer adequate to be a True Individual, or even a Hero; now one needs to be some sort of Superman, living an overinflated life punctuated (in true Tigger fashion) with exclamation marks. Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! This is the age of Supereverything--Superstar, Superathlete, Supercoach, Superpolitician, even Superbusinessman: Faster than a speeding ticket! More powerful than a profit motive! Able to lease tall buildings in a single day!

Tiggers are not necessarily what they seem, however. While they may appear to be self-propelled, they are in reality jerked this way and that by whatever appealing object or sensation catches their attention. And while Tiggers may appear energetic to the extreme, their love of ceaseless action and sensation is actually a form of spiritual laziness. Tiggers are not in control of their lives, as is clearly shown by their behavior.

The goal is to move as far away from the hyper drive "Tigger" life I have led for so long and to become more spiritually aware. To find less satisfaction from what I accomplish for myself and more from what I can do for others. To make that internal switch that will allow me to not stress myself out over things not in my control. To take that top 5 list at the top of this post and do my best to live it. It is another step in my journey toward a truely positive and grateful life.


tharr said...

I try to live by the top 5 list and am doing better at it, but need to work on number three.

I have pushed myself all of my life and continue to do so 6 years after being diagnosed with RA. Probably will continue to do so the rest of my life.

Jules said...

Tharr- sounds like you are a Tigger too. It is so very hard to get out of that habit. It's like it is ingrained in you. Hang in there and take baby steps. It's the only way I can do it.

kittenbear said...

What a fantastic post, I'll have to look up those books. All the best, Mo