To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Great Arm-Rest Debacle

Arm Rests. Adjustable ones. The key to happiness is being able to notice that things like this exist. Allow me to elaborate...

When things get whacky (difficult, painful), the hardest thing to do is to see the woods for the trees. Let me begin with an example - the common occurrence of a friend's advice to a lovesick mate:

"It will be okay, either you'll break up with your boy/girlfriend or you'll work your problems through and stay together, either way you'll be fine and it will all be for the best."

An answer to which our lovesick puppy will categorically fail to relate to until later, when he will see that it was absolute truth all along. Until then the problem will seem tragic, unbearable, and probably life-threatening.

Meanwhile it's comically easy for the friend of our love-blinded puppy to see the solution to the problem. Puppy just needs to be himself, do his best, and wait. That's it. End of story.

But onward, holistic soldiers, to the arm-rest thing, and the promised 'key to happiness' I know you are breathlessly waiting for ... Both at work and here in my home office I have been struggling for a while trying to get comfortable in front of my computers. I have tried sitting up straight for hours on end, relaxing back like a slob, stretching every few minutes, sitting on cushions, adjusting the monitor height, adjusting the chair height (at work anyway, my home chair is stuffed). I tried acupuncture, massage, and yoga. Nothing helped. I have been constantly uncomfortable, always suffering pain. In fact, I experience more back, shoulder and arm pain now working at a desk than I did all my long years working in the hostility industry...

Sorry, *coughs*, I meant 'hospitality', of course...

I used to come home from ten hour bartending/dishwashing/table-waiting shifts rubbing my shoulders and groaning that I wanted a desk job because I assumed that all the bending and lifting, and thumping and flexing, and go, go, go was causing stress and strain and was directly responsible for my gargantuan shoulder pain. Hello! It was just the opposite! One month after I stopped pounding the cafe boards I started experiencing a whole new world of distress. Needless to say, movement is extremely important to our overall well-being and we should never forget this, my information-dazzled, overly cerebral friends.

Anyway, yesterday, I suddenly had a blinding flash of inspiration. The reason for my pain was not my posture per se but the fact that the stupid arm-rests were forcing my elbows and shoulders skywards - an unnatural position and obviously the cause of my agony. Being a talkative chap in a talkative office I exclaimed 'Eureka!' and announced my discovery and my newfound life-mission to solve the problem. "I will make my fortune being the guy who solved the Great Arm-Rest Debacle!" I cockily predicted.

"Dude, too late", said Karen, the sharp-as-a-tack young lady to my left. "The arm-rests are adjustable."

And so they were. One click of a button and the problem was solved, my shoulders dropped and I noticed an immediate increase in postural comfort. Then this morning I sat down here at home and discovered that the same applies for my salvaged-from-the-side-of-the-road home office chair. As mentioned, the seat height doesn't adjust up and down properly, but the arms adjust as freely and carelessly as a wind-sock in an indecisive breeze.

Cripes! Wake up brain! Such an easy answer to a couple of year’s worth of pain and frustration. But how do we train ourselves to see the easy answers that stare us in the face? To see the clever idea that will easily make good? To separate the wheat from the chafe? To best deal with pain and stress?

Well, it’s easier said than done, but I believe it’s best to take Puppy’s sensible friend’s advice and just be ourselves, do our best, and wait. Ask questions; meditate; allow things to work themselves out. Even when we are ‘losing it’, we do well to recognise this fact and just go with it. It would probably be more damaging to hold it all in and act like a stoic. Energy needs to flow, so if it’s time to freak out, then freak out already. The sooner you release your negativity, the sooner you’ll be smiling again.

And, not least, persist. If after all the cushions, and stretching and fifty-dollar-an-hour treatments I’d given in to the pain and never put my mind to the problem again, Then I never would have had the pleasure of, if belatedly, discovering the tactical solution to the Great Arm-rest Debacle.

Now, what to do about Puppy?...

Flow Like Water...

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Anonymous donna said...

yoga mudra works for me when my shoulder gets screwed up. I would like to get a chair and desk setup that works better for me, though.

8:32 am


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