You must descend from your head into your heart. As long as you are in your head, you will never master your thoughts, which continue to whirl around your head like snow in a winter’s storm or like mosquitoes in the summer’s heat. Theophan the Recluse
On leaving for holidays I had Jesus’s words to Mary ringing dully in my ears ‘you are distracted by many preparations’. It’s noticeable, after returning from holiday, how much there’s been of a tug toward the circumference or surface (of my life). These distractions bark, urging immediate action and thought*. Holiday says what the rest of the year has been saying, as it has for a while, (and surely for most of us):What’s wrong with walking at 4mph? Give yourself time to see what is less easily seen.
These distractions*, death by a thousand cuts, these preparations or rather strategies for staying ahead or presenting competency are as mosquitoes flying about the head inciting preservation and immediate attention. When taking time and space to look around, to open our vents, to breathe more slowly and easily some sinking of the soul into something/someone deep and intangible yet stunningly real is allowed. In our case unbidden the remote and mountainous landscapes seemed to trigger a redistribution of weight or focus. It felt like a physical shift of tension or focus in the upper part of my body to somewhere closer to my belly and the simple act of attending to that ‘base’ breathing helped this descent from the head and its swirling thoughts.
Where to do the thinking?
This extract from Adventures in New Testament Greek: Nous, a poem by the Orthodox Christian Scott Cairns floated into my space, possibly capturing in words this redistribution or reconfiguring, to thinking other than merely with the head. I’d like to think so!
Dormant in its roaring cave, the heart’s intellective aptitude grows dim, unless you find a way to wake it. So, let’s try something even now. Even as you tend these lines , attend for a moment to your breath as you draw it in: regard the breath’s cool descent, a stream from mouth to throat to the furnace of the heart. Observe that queer, cool confluence of breath and blood and do all your thinking there.
*Often they are fine things in themselves, but maybe my/our response to them is warped or the emphasis or meaning associated with them is awry.