Friday, August 8, 2008

Swimming Lessons

One of my greatest pleasures when swimming laps is when there’s no one else in the pool. Every disturbance in the water is due to my own motion. I’m reminded of the ripple tanks we used in physics class to study the properties of waves in electromagnetic fields. In the course of observing the ripples stirred by my breaststroke I noticed that the little waves preceding me were arriving at the wall several feet before I did. Having a direction sets up a current, a pattern of waves that affect the surroundings. It reminded me of a scene in the movie, “Donny Darko” where a swirl of concentrated energy stretched out from the character toward the kitchen, a materialization of his intention, before he went to get a snack.
In his book, “The Sense of Being Stared At”, Rupert Sheldrake suggests there is something detectable about our attention, that people can feel someone looking at them. A larger field of human mind may be affected by a mental direction like a wavelet bumping into another’s mind. A premonition might occur when the disturbance in the field created by an event is sensed before we consciously learn about it. A surprising result in a study by Dean Radin lends support to that view. When detectors were placed on subjects to determine reactions to emotional pictures, the reactions began before the picture flashed on the screen. The subject wasn’t consciously aware of the coming picture, but the sensors picked up a bodily awareness. The image that was to be shown on the screen seemed to be preceded by ripples in an information field. Perhaps there are fields of all kinds that are influencing us without our conscious knowledge. Intentions and purposes may be our mechanisms to put the field in motion and once in motion may align with like fields for greater coherence. Direction organizes surrounding motion. When I float on my back with no direction of my own, everything going on in the pool affects my movement. I’m buffeted about by the surrounding action, can feel the presence of others in the water. Those with a strong direction have more influence than those just bobbing around aimlessly. It’s a powerful image for understanding. A strong purpose in life creates direction in the field that may influence those within reach. When we have no direction of our own we’re more subject to the will of those around us.
This lesson extends to ideas about boundaries. Seeing water as continuous with me, an extension of my motion, reinforces my habitual questions about the boundaries of my being. I’ve heard that in some cultures, the edge of the skin is not considered the edge of the being, which extends beyond the body for a foot or so. I know a few individuals that see auras around people that extend into the space around them. As the brain evolved, each new layer wrapped around the previous older layer, a nested history of our development, with our most evolved functions the outermost. So it’s not that hard to believe that another, less material level wraps around the physical body. As we move in the world, emanations of the bodyfield overlap and intersect. If we have focused intentions and goals we may have more capacity to influence the whole like a strong radio station will overwhelm the weaker signal.
When I arrived at the pool today, the surface was like glass and I hurried to be the first to disturb it. Just as I arrived at the side, ready to jump in, a woman lowered herself in by the ladder and the ripples rushed out from her in perfect concentric circles, mingling with the ripples I created when I jumped in. The field created by the water registered our presence. Our transmissions mingled. We accept these influences more easily because we see them, but we use technology that depends on fields of information we don’t see. Finding ways to understand what we don’t see requires analogous images. Zen teachers often use the image of water for consciousness. To emphasize that the separateness we feel is an illusion, they use the image of a wave in the ocean, that seems to be separate, looking across the surface, but is always still a part of the ocean.
They remind us that we are the water, not the wave, and to consider ourselves a part of a larger continuous consciousness that includes and is influenced by all of us.


Anonymous said...

I love this connection. Water is such a strong and archetypal metaphor. While setting your intention and your course will allow ripples to surf to your destination before you do, I find the metaphor of floating and allowing to also be relevant. Swimming in a choppy ocean, against the current can be exhausting, and I’ve certainly had the feeling of “drowning” in my own circumstances, or being sucked into a whirlpool of someone else’s current. It’s a balance. There’s a great Christopher Morley quote they have on the walls of all the Café Gratitudes that says: “Time is a flowing river. Happy those who allow themselves to be carried, unresisting, with the current. They float through easy days. They live, unquestioning, in the moment.” And there are days where I need this. Days when I almost need to surrender to trust completely and enjoy the experience it brings, But Tony Robbins in his book “Awaken The Giant Within” describes what he’s dubbed “The Niagara Syndrome” where people jump into the river of life without really deciding where they want to end up, so they become affected by the current. Current events, fears, hopes, challenges…and when the river forks, they don’t consciously decide which way to go…they’re just “going with the flow” and become part of the mass current directed by their environment instead of their own volition. They remain in this unconscious state floating along until one day the sound of raging water awakens them and they realize they’re about to go over Niagara Falls. Whether that fall is emotional or physical, Tony states: “it’s likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by some better decisions made upstream.” In my mental paddling between both of these theories, I come back to your observation Susan, and believe with enough intention setting, with enough wave lengths of belief and purpose you can create a thruway to your goal. The ripples will push away or perhaps even erode and carve a path directly to your destination. The more certain you are of succeeding, the more conviction you have, the stronger your ripples will be. It’s like a motorboat versus a rowboat. One leaves a bigger wake, may get there quicker-but may not get to appreciate the scenery or have time to make a quick decision if an obstacle is in the way. While the slow and steady rowboat, plots it’s course, is free to change it’s route, but doing it alone may not come with ease. Whatever your method(s) of navigating through life-choose them powerfully, commit until they are no longer best serving you or your path. You can jump in or you can wade in, I guess all we can do is be conscious of the ripples we’re making and the sea we’re swimming in, be aware if there’s a lifeguard on duty, and what the pH level of the pool is. I for one love to live life til my fingers are pruney.

Yumi said...

This post is like one of your drawings, but in text. It reminds me of a question that popped into my mind the other night: If everyone pictured the world in peace, merely pictured it in their minds or drew it out, would that trigger this thought to occur?

Susan Waters-Eller said...

If everyone was thinking about world peace, it would create such a powerful current, how could in not start a course in that direction.