False Mirror

Oh, is this thing still on?

One of the most visible attributes of monkhood is seclusion. I seem to be doing a good job of that. I still read my Dreamwidth account, but I rarely post. I still check in on Facebook, but my friend count is deliberately low, and it’s a more informal atmosphere. Tumblr was, fun, but overwhelming.

I started getting the message to back off, from everything. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been told. That advice is easier to follow in the winter. I started writing less.

This morning I went to the gym with my mother. This is a thing we’re trying to get into three times a week, though one of those times is when I teach tai chi. Tai chi is not really cardio or weight training. I’m not too large, but I definitely could be in better shape. My mom is in her seventies. I want her to go and it’s easier if we both go together.

I teach tai chi at a gym. It’s not the best arrangement. I can’t promise any sort of a beach body unless you happen to already have one. I can teach you how to knock down those who do have beach bodies, but if you were that kind of person I probably wouldn’t want you as a student anyway.

As I waited for my mom to get done with the bike, I did a few tai chi exercises. I felt horribly self-conscious while doing my tan tien exercises. I’m sure they do look weird. I stand still and my midsection moves just a little bit. My mom said something about dancing. I agreed that yes, there were some similarities to belly dancing.

Surely everyone thought I looked weird. Surely they had no idea what the heck I was doing. I was tempted not to do the exercise at all. But how do I know what they’re thinking? I don’t. Does it matter anyway? I knew what I was doing and why.

This would be the point at which a person might start explaining or getting defensive or getting into an argument with no one at all. I’ve had many imaginary discussions in my lifetime. They’re a complete waste of energy. That jerk you’re arguing with, yourself, will never let you win. You may even feel so silly arguing with yourself that you’ll look for a fight with a real person in order to prove that the argument is worth having. You have all those great comebacks saved up. It would be a shame to let them go to waste.

If you look at yourself in the mirror and imagine what someone else sees, that image is almost certainly false. Even if someone agrees with your distortion that doesn’t make the imagined vision true. They make assumptions, and you make assumptions about their assumptions. How does anyone ever get anything done?

How do you throw out the false mirror?

Seclusion does have one thing going for it. If I’m not seen as often, the mirror doesn’t have as much influence. It takes the pressure off. I know that’s only a temporary fix. I’m not here to escape. I’m here to learn. I have to do no less than change my thought habits in order to defeat these various snares. Where is the trap? What can I do differently so that I no longer fall for it?

What would it be like to go to the gym or hang out in a community without constantly checking myself in the mirror? It sounds a lot more relaxing and productive.