Why do I Move before I AM


Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

Dedicated to the work of qigong master Robert Peng

That’s what I asked myself this morning as I stood looking at the rice spilled all over the kitchen floor. I had gone into action to pull the broom out of the closet and start cleaning up. But I stopped to ask myself: “Am I here, present to the action, or just a reaction rushing into movement?”

When something happens suddenly, what do you do? Who inside you is the First Responder to the shock? Anything unexpected hits the gut and heart as well as the head. Belly, heart and head. The Taoists tell us they are our Three Treasures. And while we can know with our head brain that most of the time we’re in one of our three parts – head, heart, or body—we are seldom able to gather them all together into one whole person.

Gurdjieff calls them three brains or centers and, like the Taoists, he says that the first aim of an intelligent human being would be to find the way to have them work together harmoniously.

Hmm. If I did that, all of me would be standing here, not just a piece of me pushing a broom. The critical judge inside, who likes to tell me how wrong I always am, says I messed up again. But behind him there is someone with a larger view, “one who sees and cannot do,” as Gurdjieff puts it. Or, rather, she cannot do until I am gathered together into one aware, attentive person.

“Man is a citizen of three worlds, in all of which, even now, he has his being.”

The words of Hindu sage Krishna Prem. If he is right, this small, often uncertain person contains three worlds—body, mind and heart. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that each of us has a body mind, a head mind, and a heart mind. The sad news is that each of them spends our life energy doing their own thing without listening to the others. Yet were we able to connect with all three of our treasures, or worlds, or brains, before we go into movement, we could function on another level, becoming present to the moment we are living through.

To begin a search for how to do that, we must first find out which of the three tends dominates our inner show. For example, when shocked awake, I automatically move into action, but someone else will sit down and figure everything out before they do something about it. And others might just shout an expletive or punch the wall before they can think or act intelligently. 

That raises an important question: Are we starving segments of ourselves that ought to be valued just as much as our favorite ways of meeting something new? For example, how do churning thoughts interfere with a real experience of myself? To find out which of our three brains dominates our responses to life, and how much authority we automatically give it, we could ask ourselves:

  • Is my body on the back burner in my life, or does it always take precedence? Let me sit down and think more about this.
  • Am I a thinking person who believes the rest of me is only there to serve the life of the mind? Let me give more attention to my Body Being, which holds me up, works to keep me safe, and tries diligently to satisfy my needs.
  • Or does my emotional reaction come first in any situation, rocking my life as if I were a small boat on a rough sea? My Body Being could serve as an anchor for that craft, while my mind investigates what the wind and stars can tell me, before I sail ahead. born-to-move-patty-de-llosaPhoto by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

By studying how to navigate with the energies of our Three Treasures more harmoniously, and inviting them to talk to each other, we open to a more vibrant, meaningful life.

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