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The first exercise

June 15, 2010


As a life long exerciser, I wanted to share a little about exercise in general and also share with you the one exercise that got my quest for the inner I, referenced elsewhere in Know Thy Self, going to a whole new level.

Prior to the practice of  the 5-point hold, I was a blunderer, like most people are when it comes to what our body is telling us it needs in order to be healthy. To be fit (fit to do what though, an interesting semantic play).

I’ve spent time pumping iron (terrible for you, in every regard), running (even worse, really, I’ll give you great physiological and psychological rationale for that statement in days to come), yoga (completely mis-understood, especially as it is commonly practiced today)….. I am an accomplished tennis player, golfer, swimmer, badminton player, horse rider…. so, my perspective on exercise comes from a deeply informed place.

In the pursuit of each of these sports or means to fitness, as in everything I do, I delved into the how, the why… incessantly seeking guidance from those who’d gained some mastery in each field.

And in the process (I’m 45 years old), came to be injured in every way shape and form you can imagine. Joints out of kilter, broken bones, torn muscles, torn tendons…. you name it, I’ve had it. Have it too!

And it was from these injuries I came to my first big realization.

Working “Out” is basically bad for me. See, look, hear.. all around us today. It’s all about working out. Working out  is like a de-voluting spiral. It does not re-vitalize. It does not re-plenish. It just empties us out. In working out, we give our energy to various hard things (hard roads in running, hard metals in weight training). And we become hard and brittle as a result. Working out is like banging your head against a brick wall to cure a headache.

Working “in” is the way to go. And that semantic, linguistic switch is a real trigger for change. When you start working in, the quality of your being changes completely. There are various eastern working’in” traditions and their practitioners flow. Working in replenishes, revitalizes, re-news. It is the in-volute spiral.

Stand the pinnacle of a work-outer (a champion body builder) and a master of a work-in style (Tai Chi as one example, Aikido  as another) and you see immediately, one is like stone and the other is like water.

If longevity and vitality is the essential reason for exercise, then which would you rather be? Vital, dynamic, relentless water or static, hard and im-movable stone? Of course we also know who wins the long-term battle in nature, water over stone, everytime, right? Hint….The grand Canyon.

So yes, I’m completely against all these forms of working out and will share my insights on working in as we go along here. But please, think about what I’ve written above. In deference to a degree of brevity, I’ve kept it short, but I urge you to read carefully and ponder what I’ve said.

So, on to the exercise that took me places I did not even imagine existed. It showed me that human bio-mechanics as we understand it today is fundamentally flawed. We need to re-relate to the body, so we can come back to some harmony with-in and with-out ourselves.

And this same mis-understood view of the body has led to the design dystopia we currently in-habit. Everything we are surrounded with is designed. And at some fractal level or the other, it is all User Interface design. We are the user, the first layer of interaction with the object is the interface. If we do not understand the user, how then can we design the interface correctly? But much more on this in times to come. For those interested, you can click the link on “The Plan” page and dive into my design science site, but be warned, it is dense.

The exercise:

Sit in a quiet place, in loose fitting clothing. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, on a cushion is best, but on a comfortable chair will do as well for a start.

Raise your hands six or so inches away from your navel and place the tips of your fingers against each other. Leave a little space between your palms, like a bellow. Close your eyes and focus on these five tips. Gently manipulate your fingers so that you feel approximately the same “pad” between each set of fingers. Now let your focus go to each of these contact patches and try to make sure that you can hold the awareness of one clearly, then two together, then three, then four and and then all five.

In essence, the challenge of this exercise, as it’s first step, is to hold more than one point of focus simultaneously. We are all used to hearing “single point concentration” as a focus of meditative exercises.

This is level two and beyond.

Please try it, sincerely and comment back with your experiences. Remember, you have to hold, absolutely clearly in your awareness, a distinct feeling of all five points of contact……at first you will be able to hold it for a brief instant, then longer…. it’s exhilarating in a way you cannot imagine. And so simple. hmmmm…. actually perhaps not so simple after all, but I’ll leave you to discover that.

My in-ward journey began from this simple exercise.

More in a bit.

Be well. Be.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2010 8:48 pm

    The exercise is more difficult than it sounds like it would be. I was momentarily successful, and surprised myself by laughing aloud. It was a joyful feeling, one of liberation.

    Thanks, I’ll give it a more concentrated go in a bit.

    • June 16, 2010 2:50 am

      Awesome KC. I had the exact feeling. One of things that happens unbidden is that focusing on the hands in this way takes the mind out of the equation. It stills the mind, but not by forcing stillness on it as many meditative systems suggest. More spontaneous.

      Keep me posted! 🙂

  2. morris permalink
    June 23, 2010 11:59 am

    thank you all for your thoughts!
    have been doing this with every single part of my body until it seems to disappear leaving in place a still-peaceful-overjoy feeling.
    the moment you try to keep it going the exact moment you loosing it! this, perhaps, is the “not-so-simple” part you hinted.
    it was kind of sad to return aware of the body, yet feeling quite relaxed.
    always thought there’s also something like this in music – was playing with a malaysian drummer (for years) and often we look at each other,
    smiling while hearing absolutely no sound! again, the moment you focus on the happening, the magic faded away.
    that’s my exp of what other call swing.

    greetings to everyone

    • June 26, 2010 7:34 pm

      Awesome Morris. I hear you.
      I’m sure you will find the exercises that follow, equally familiar or interesting.

  3. June 27, 2010 2:32 pm

    I just started reading your blog last week and I really like it. I tried the exercise. I could focus on 3 fingers then when i got to the fourth and fifth I started to lose it. Also, it was difficult for me to disregard other random thoughts and focus intently on my fingers. Any suggestions?

    • June 28, 2010 4:17 am

      Greetings Bruce. Glad you find this site interesting. And the exercise, interesting, isn’t it? In fact, the place you have come to is precisely the idea. Please see my post for today for some added guidance and part two of the first exercise. But keep at it, it works in mysterious ways.


  4. Lagoon permalink
    October 2, 2010 2:47 pm

    I know this is a late comment here but, I notice your predictions about September being somewhat of a disatorous month have come errily true. On another subject, I definately agree with Moriss about the fact that exercises in the arts like music or visual arts can also help you concentrate on multiple objects simaltaneously.

  5. Kay_D permalink
    December 9, 2010 7:27 am

    I have added nothing to this world ( well wind tunnel model suspension system , perhaps for Daewoo) …. and hope to be as minimal a factor in this existence…
    This world is a joke , so why do i need to add to it and spoil the laughter…
    This earth is an enticing illusion and this is what the W_orld is built upon..
    The W_orld is manufactured from a intense need to be attached to the illusion of the ‘wonders’ this earth has to show us ..
    The civilsation of M_an is just adding to the mirage , layer upon layer , feeding on the majority who help build it…away from our spiritual centre..our M_other
    The physical M_other is abandoned when we attain maturity..What is left of our centre, spirals away through an intense barrage of programming environments, into our calcified civilised artificial being , hiding our spiritual M_other. Lost to be found.
    we , now the machine , stomp through and binge upon a manufactured path of BE_LIE_FS.
    we BE_come a LIE , an image , coloured , HUE_d to BE HUE_man ..the HUE_MAN being takes shape. Shaped and carved in thousand moments of sharing, transferring, networking with other sentient beings dancing in dynamic dormancy.
    We might be teased by her when we have our customary mid life cr_ISIS..our cry to ISIS falls on deaf ears but we trudge along convinced we have gained a new path.
    The Creator may catch our glimpse when we taste her tools of our DEATH..
    perhaps to see her without absence one must die , die and die again in this digitised world..
    Movement through death will lay my head on her bosom

  6. karan permalink
    January 26, 2011 9:00 pm

    Ive been trying this excercise for the past week, the first time I did it, I felt this rush of energy, I could feel my energy building up from my hands into the rest of my body, yet it was so calming at the same time. After my first try, I felt so aware so at peace, a feeling I hadnt felt in a very long time. I tend to get quite anxious/nervous in social situations, but this time I was so relaxed! since my first try, I havent really managed to revist that meta-aware state, but Ill continue to try. ..although I dont know exactly what it was, it was just what I needed.
    Thanks for this amazing blog, I really enjoy your thoughts, it feeds me plenty of food for thought! Would love to see you elaborate more on why you believe “working out” is not the way, cant we do both (working-out as well as in)?

    • January 27, 2011 7:06 am

      Hi Karan, good to know and glad your mind get’s worked in here. 😉
      With the first exercise, it’s like any other thing. I’ll take golf as an example. My first ever t-shot was a masterpiece. That was 25 years ago. I’ve spent from then to now trying to re-discover what I did not know then. Get it?
      The first attempt, free of expectations, promises and pre-conceptions is pure and shows you the possibilities. Now you try to re-create the magic, but that is not how it works, un-fortunately.
      The first exercise is like that. It took me years of daily work to climb step two.
      More on the work-out/work-in in a bit.
      Thanks for the comment.

  7. January 27, 2011 8:50 am

    Great exercise Anadianant.
    Sit in the silence.

  8. dublinmick permalink
    February 28, 2011 1:11 am

    Absolutely brilliant! You might be familiar with guru Maharaj Ji who came to America back in the 70’s and propagated Divine Light Mission. I believe he had some 6 million followers in India at the time.

    I became involved in his teachings. He could certainly show a person techniques to see the chakras and that looks like a chakra in the picture, although I have never managed to see this one. With Maharaji there was no tantric methods involved as it brought too much attention from the authorities and all concerned and was felt it would lead to a situation such as Mahareshi experienced up in Oregon and most probably would have.

    He finally retired to a home in California as at the time there were simply too many infiltrators becoming involved who were curiosity seekers as opposed to truth seekers. I believe Billy Graham was having people join to see what was going on and how he could draw so many followers to him.

    I remember one weekend a Mahatma and about 25 followers came to my house and stayed the night for some satsang. The Mahatma showed up in a black limosine and the customary saffron robes. For a long time the neighbors kept looking at me in puzzlement as in this guy has really stepped off the edge. Those were good days.

    I can still tell people today that every word I received in connection with my experiences with the mission were the absolute truth. Pure food, deep breathing and other things stood the test of time. I gave away all of my “Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji” books to friends who never returned them. I notice to day there is one on ebay and they want about $110.00 for it.

    • February 28, 2011 6:09 pm

      I have a deeply formative memory of life-changing experiences with one of his devotees when I was 14. I understand.
      Now, it seems it is all to be corrupted, even the teachers.

      Sounds like you’ve had a fascinating life in the company of spiritual folk. I love that energy, if it is genuine it is the best womb. liberating.

  9. downrodeo@ZH permalink
    June 10, 2011 3:13 pm

    Instant shivers were sent up and down my spine when I tried this. This is a wonderful exercise. I’ve been taking martial arts for years now, and Tai Chi is by far the most rewarding style that I’ve tried, although I haven’t praticed it in quite awhile. I’m currently taking krav maga, which is entirely an external form. While it is fun in it’s own right, the difference between the two styles is stark and I can only echo what you’ve said about the stone vs. the water. Excellent analogy. Thanks for your writings, I always look forward to what you have to share with us.

    • June 13, 2011 6:47 am

      Hi DR, fascinating hmmm? So simple. It’s such a key, I cannot even begin to tell you. And as a student of the arts, you are perhaps more attuned to pick up the vibrations. And all the forms you mention ( I have little familiarity with krav maga, isn;t that a hungarian martial art form?) have the same thing at the core: flow. Tai Chi, Kara-te (empty hand), Aikido…. we have such gifts, such gifts, even in this apparently limited physical “self”, eh?

      Thanks for sharing.

  10. Nadall permalink
    July 31, 2011 7:47 pm

    Off the subject/off base, but this really intense energy built up between my palms. Felt like it needed to be discharged, so I faced my palms one at a time toward my trunk and moved upwards about 2 to 3 inches away from my skin all the way around the top of my head. Wished I could run them all the way down my back … wonderful energy. OK. Now, back to the exercise. (Sorry … I sound like a kindergartener. Oh wait …. I am!) : )

    • August 2, 2011 3:56 am

      Awesome Nadall. And what you did with it is great too. Wash it over your self and start again. But the other way is to let it grow. Part your hands a bit. Back together. A little farther apart. Till the ball begins to pulse. When you feel the pulse, let me know!!!

  11. Nadall permalink
    August 2, 2011 5:25 am

    Amazing … VERY strong pulse, almost a POUND. The ball got bigger and bigger as it gently pushed my hands apart. Resistance when I tried to put them back together, so I just let it go. Hands moved all the way out to my side. I aimed the palms upward and just breathed for a while before I gently brought them back to position. Pulse/pound again, but much smaller, more concentrated. I put them over my face and saw the most beautiful pattern a glowing orb inside a ….. well, like the sun reflecting off a very choppy lake or like a yellowish gossamer web in space. OH! Reminds me of a poem I wrote maybe 40 years ago … something about “to be fresh and pure it has first to be broken; shattered into a trillion tiny mirrors, like the sun reflects off a windy lake; all a reflection of God.” Anyway, thank you so much for this wonder full exercise to do!

    • August 2, 2011 7:18 pm

      🙂 You’re welcome.

      And you are all welcome. Please try it. It is a magical journey. I’ll post something here soon that a regular from Spain sent in. Really worth 30 minutes a day for a week or three?

      It was gifted to me to pass on.

  12. Paul permalink
    December 10, 2011 10:34 am

    So.. i can relate to this pulse your talking about.. 5 mins ago i stumbled upon your site and did the finger touching exactly as you described and it made sense the first time i read what you said.. anyway 1-3 fingers touching no probs, and then 4, whilst 5 took a few seconds longer and then i reversed it after my second go.. 1 to 5 and then 5 to 1 and so on,,
    Not exactly sure when i started to feel that a pulse/rythem, like a fast mini heart-beat between my fingers that i could control.. maybe because i was alternating it.. the more i thought of controlling it though; my fingers, then started to twitch physically in rythem with the now fading/non-exsistent pulse.
    Anyway i felt i had to say something and thank you for the insight but i need a good starting point as your wonderful site is full of great links and im not sure where to start as a grass-roots beginner on your site.
    I too have always loved music.. never cared for the words so much, but as long as it has rythem i can listen( hear ) anything from classical to techno especially accompanying piano or violin and more recently trumpet and accordion !
    Theres something about the frequency or resonance of these instruments in certain music that makes me feel like i can cure myself of all ills if i had to.. What exactly is that wave of tingly feeling that sometimes washes over your body when you’ve had a good experience from either a vocal or visual moment as what happens with a touching movie sometimes also..
    I also notice the complete opposite if i ever think about stuff for example that ive been procrastinating on or perhaps im in fear of something/someone and this feeling is a dark,gloomy one and that feeling always goes down (drops) in my body..
    I know there has to be a balance of sorts .. Is this love and fear ?
    Sorry to ramble, i dont know much about you but i really like where your coming from and ive thrown this email together rather quick so excuse grammer etc.
    Take care.

    • December 11, 2011 7:34 am

      Paul, scrambled or otherwise, your clearly heart-felt message is much appreciated. Yes, the blog covers quite an array of topics… please dig around, comment as called.

      And that exercise is powerful. Very very powerful. Changed my life. If you continue to try it, let me/us know how it makes you feel?

  13. Fred permalink
    January 1, 2012 8:45 am

    have you,by chance,seen the work of Dr.Les Fehmi with what he calls “Open Focus”?If not,you may find it more than interesting.Also,there are vid posts on Youtube.

  14. No Moar QE permalink
    July 16, 2013 3:09 pm

    I traveled (past tense with the TSA) too. Not as much as you.

    Workout, Work in – My path is to just do work and leave it at that, (a lot of times I don’t even get paid, I just DO the work, or SOLVE the problem) although as a kid I did kickball, slaughter-ball, baseball, football, soccer, after a honorable tour in the USAF I quickly learned I don’t fit in traditional jobs, (the greed and crap is too much) I have to be independent, I have to use my MIND to put that 20 yards of topsoil on your roof by hand by myself in 24 hours. I also get the contract. And you know what, I SOLVE it, and other problems, every time. So my meditation resulted in me to buy 20′ by 12″ redwood planks and a bundle of cement stakes and a few 2′ by 4”s, plywood, joice hangers LOL and I build a little miners ramp up to that 35′ roof. Have you seen some of these hundred thousand dollar plus landscapes lately? They are exactly like putting that topsoil on the roof, rugged terrain, ya need CRANES…and concrete pumps, retaining walls, drills, bobcats.

    Eastern Inward (meditation on your body), but don’t forget Western Outward (meditation sitting in a protected / energized circle and raising a mental antenna from your mind going straight out into space to pick up messages from who and whatever is out there)

    Also, there are breathing exercises I learned in yoga, using patterns on a mirror at the hour of the day to know which STATE i was in to, force breath a different way, and help kill chronic tooth pain. So I get it on the YOGA stuff too, although the stuff was magical and deep and symbolic, I only scratched the surface of some of the more obscure yoga. Yoga in magic, Yoga in Healing, Yoga in just Breathing.

    Funny thing, I smoke.

    On the finger exercise, I don’t use fingers, I use AM/FM radios, CB’s and Streaming Audio/Video’s.

    Now whip out your wallet and go buy up about 5 portable radios off eBay. Go get drunk, and realize you paid too much, but hey, you have them now so RELAX, relax, relaxed now? Calmed and forgot about the cost? um…. one sec… Mother nature kicking ya in the ass again calling, and say’s, “Why are you laying around relaxing?” and sends a solar flare (just kidding, she only asks…to provoke thought, but might kick our ass if we do get too lazy) So what this interruption was about is the fact you need to go back to eBay and buy several packages of batteries, and chargers (if ya have a solar panel)

    Okay, now RELAX again, Booo! just kidding, relaxed? Great, now turn on all the radios and put each one on a different station. Follow the same rule as the finger exercise. But, you now have to remember everything from all five. Maybe start with three, or TWO and learn to mix audio like a pro… just kidding.. Buy a nice 36+ channel mixer ( berringer or JBL or PeaVey Sanctuary if you really want to push it.)

    Oh hey are you in a band now? Interesting.

    Right now my obsession is with SDR or Software defined radio. Yeah I don’t like the smart meters or all the wifi’s but, IF I am goin to have radios, then I want my brain to fry like popcorn when I press the Microphone to say CQ DX, yet at the same time, when I am FINISHED, I turn it off, so I believe I have struck a balance. (at least my intent) Do you leave your 2.4 GHz – 5 Ghz transmitters running all night next to your head? I don’t. Yet, I am also now working on MESH networks (off the grid/internet) I do it in bursts. You can drop a popcorn on a hot pan and nothing happens if you take it back out again.

    The problems going on out there are hidden right in our faces.

    They’re at the TSA checkpoint hundreds of miles from the border, where the DHS oath breaker asks, “are you a citizen?” Well I don’t know anymore, AM I? or am I a “customer” or am I a slave to the IRS and Obamacare? About this time 20 more DHS come rushing in to raid everything I got. Right? Righteous? How about you tell me if your an agent who swore an oath to defend the Constitution is what I am thinking.

    That’s the front end to the spying..

    They keep you away from accessing the fios splitters, and cables and vaults with kit to copy every byte then backup, buffer, filter, sort, track, and exploit, I mean hell anyone can buy parts and make things, we don’t need snowden’s blueprint to figure out just what exactly the NSA is doing. Or the power that can come from it, blackmail, murder, financial fraud, rape, treason, war.

    So, the fiber optic splitters have to be removed, the databases and copies cleansed, (with a new deal that says you get caught with this database and pay with your life), and I hate to say it we’re now so far down the rabbit hole, that allowing people to change their legal name must also be considered as a protection from those oath breakers who would exploit such data.

    Everything electronic is now being exploited.
    Elections, Computers, Media, Medicine, Health Care Records, Websites, SAG/SRM weather modification operations, NCIC + psychiatrists in Obamacare using the DSM-5 (a false science) to take firearms.

    It’s literally an electronic sea of death.
    maybe a pulse wouldn’t be so bad?

    You do have a garden? I do, mine isn’t that good, but I am trying at least. Nothing like watering at 4:29 AM when the day is going to be 110 in Sacramento. Morning after morning, finally the heat lets up about the same time I can’t wake up in the morning.. Coincidence, or Intent and Willpower (action)? Do I even care? No, I just DO the work.

    Much love.

    • July 20, 2013 4:44 am

      Now THAT felt like a note from a long lost brother, whoever you are….balancing 5 radios into harmony…. nice 🙂

      tell me/us moar…

  15. detached.amusement permalink
    May 17, 2015 4:14 pm

    true ongoing stillness requires net energy positive internal mechanics, and to attenuate the cranial nerve inputs until below the threshold of neural activation. sufficient habit energy of breathwork will reprogram the instruction set the medulla executes = stronger habit energy. tough to quiet the olfactory nerve if one is using anywhere air touches to facilitate the movement of air 😉

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