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Roger Federer, Kinetic Beauty, and the Religious Experience

Written by Philip Walter on Jul 11 at 5:40 pm.

Roger Federer

photo courtesy of Squeaky Knees

On the heels of the great Roger Federer’s recent and utter silencing of any critics, with major championships number 14 and 15 at Roland Garros and the All England Club, I revisited a 2006 New York Times article by David Foster Wallace, “Roger Federer as Religious Experience.” If you’re a tennis fan in general, a Federer fan specifically, the entire article is worth reading. Its 5 pages are full of astute observations, but there is something said in the first several paragraphs I found incredibly interesting on this particular reading. I thought I might comment on it in this blog entry.

Wallace asserts, “high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.” It’s not that courage is the object or purpose of war. Obviously, conquering the enemy is the goal, but the courageous tend to rise to the top. You might say, courage in war is often rewarded with victory. Likewise, in the uppermost tiers of competitive sport, it seems, beauty is often rewarded with victory.

This might seem a strange statement since most sports fans flock around their big-screen televisions with thoughts of beauty far from the fronts of their minds. However, what we’re talking about here is, as Wallace pointed out in his essay, “beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty.” He goes on to say,

“Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.”

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Do This Now – The Anatomy of Happiness – Part IV

Written by Philip Walter on Mar 2 at 7:15 pm.

Week 2/52

photo courtesy of maldiviandude

Alright, here’s the final installment of Do This Now – The Anatomy of Happiness. Over the past several months, Matt Krepps and I have had 4 conversations about the nature of happiness, and about what contributes generally to a state of unhappiness, or dissatisfaction in our lives. This is the fourth.

We begin with an exploration of deception techniques in the natural world. If you look around, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any species (ours included) that doesn’t employ some sort of deception in order to maximize its position in the food chain. This implies, particularly in humans, there may also be some advantage for those who evolve a proclivity for self-deception. How much more convincing are we when we believe our own lies? What role might this self-deception play in our day to day frustrations? If the spiritual traditions, in asking us to surrender our little lies for the honest business of existence, remove the powerful evolutionary advantage of deception, why have they stuck around so long?

These are a few of the questions we address in this installment. Here’s a point-by-point synopsis:

  • Intro and recap of Parts 1-3
  • Variations on Original Sin as The Fundamental Flaw
  • Sin as a Disease of Perception, which has an Evolutionary Advantage
  • Self-Deception as an Evolved Trait
  • Why the Spiritual Traditions?
  • The Disadvantages of Self-Deception
  • The Most Difficult Thing About Religion
  • The Toolbox of Spirituality
  • The Nature of Fearlessness
  • What It Means To “Stand At The Beginning”
  • Distrust Your First Thought
  • Surrender As The Final Destination
  • What Do You Do When You Don’t Get What You Want?
  • The Spiritual Traditions As Motive Clarification Techniques
  • Final Thoughts

Here’s the audio file download link, and of course you can use the player below. It runs about 62 minutes.

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The quote of the conversation for me was Matt’s revelation that “the ability to be unsatisfied with style makes an adult with style … and panache.”

Feel free to comment below or e-mail me at philip(at)brickhousebodymind(dot)com if you have any questions, thoughts, etc.

I am closing the official Anatomy of Happiness dialogue, but we are planning more conversations in the near future. Is there anything else in particular you would like us to address? Do you think we’re crazy – are we wasting our time?

Please let me know.

Until next time, Peace be with you and yours.

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Hope, Recovery, and Your NPR Driveway Moment of the Week

Written by Philip Walter on Dec 29 at 11:23 am.

Inspiration for New Years from BrickhouseBodymind.com

photo credit: KansasPhoto (Patrick)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! My wife and I are winding down celebrating Christmas with our families and looking forward to ringing in the New Year together. It’s a great time for getting inspired, of course – the week of the New Year’s beginning – so I thought I would share with you all an inspiring story I heard recently on NPR. Consider it your NPR Driveway Moment of the week. I know I haven’t kept up with posting them much, but I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Jason Crigler – Hope and Recovery

It is a story about a musician – a New York City guitarist named Jason Crigler – who suffered a brain hemorrhage during a concert in Manhattan in 2004. His wife, pregnant at the time with their first child, and the rest of their family were devastated by the grim prognosis given by Jason’s doctors. Even so, they refused to give up on him, and what ensued was an 18-month odyssey, the vast majority of which, Jason has no memory.

During that time, he spent more than a year in the hospital, but finally, thanks to the dogged hopes of his loved ones, he recovered from his injury. The whole saga is documented in an inspiring film called Life. Support. Music. Hearing this story on the way home from work affected me deeply and reminded me of several things we would all do well to keep in mind during the coming year.

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My Other Pet Blog – ADistillationOfSelf.com

Written by Philip Walter on Dec 22 at 10:40 pm.

Project Distillation

A Distillation of … what?

Photo credit: Pål Berge

So, the holidays are coming up, and as most of you probably know, I’ve been hard at work finalizing the recipes, workout plans, stress management techniques, and thought experiments that will make up my book, The Brickhouse Bodymind Blueprint.  That has unfortunately meant fewer posts here at the blog.  Things will return to normal as soon as the book is ready, which with any luck will be the end of January.

Anyway, until then I have started up a new little project.  In addition to being a fun challenge in the web design department, it should give me an outlet for less structured features than those found here, and keep me from becoming a total recluse while I finalize the book.

It will also serve as my workout log.  Those of you who are interested in seeing what my regular physical training regimine actually looks like can do that at this website.  Currently I am trying to shed a final few percentge-points of bodyfat before we take pictures of the exercises that will be featured in my book.  You can read a detailed description of the workout cycle here.

The new website is called A Distillation of Self.  I wrote an introductory post that explains the whole vision in a nutshell.  Also, you can find the best yet description of my personal transformative practice there.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know what ya’ll think of the new site by commenting here or there, or sending me an e-mail at philip(at)brickhousebodymind.com.

Peace and thanks for reading!

Do This Now – The Anatomy of Happiness – Part III

Written by Philip Walter on Dec 2 at 7:55 pm.

a new home (to be seen)

photo courtesy of justneal

No long wait this time! It’s Part 3 of my ongoing series of conversations with my longtime friend and yoga teacher, Matt Krepps, about the nature of happiness. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Hard to believe it’s December already, huh? I’m deep in the throes of editing my manuscript, still hoping for a January publication date for The Brickhouse Bodymind Blueprint. Even with all that, we managed to get Part 3 together. We’re really driving toward the culmination now. This part addresses the Mechanisms of Personal Perception and Identification.

How exactly do we become aware of external events? How do we make decisions? Is what we perceive to be the present really in the present moment? Given everything that is physically required to do something as simple as move your finger, do you really purport to have control over your actions? Furthermore, do you really want your happiness to depend on your ability to make all those things happen in just the right way and at just the right time?

Here’s a point-by-point synopsis:

  • Intro and recap of Part 2
  • The experiments of Benjamin Libet
  • Happiness as a product of personal volition
  • A stuck perspective = A living death
  • Job’s Body and the Sense of Effort
  • Biotensegrity
  • Were you there when you were seven? Are you here now?

Here’s a link to the pdf – A Course in Consciousness – that we mention several times in this conversation. Here’s the audio file download link, and of course you can use the player below. It runs about 59 minutes.

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This conversation really took some twists and turns, but like Matt said, the purpose of this is to be like a torpedo to the ego. So much of human happiness and consequently the lack of said happiness is tied to personal identification. The ego’s job is to own things and identify with things. That’s how we relate to the world around us. But since all things eventually pass away, the ego sets us up for disappointment. Only when we begin to shift our identification toward that which does not pass away can we hope to find true happiness. Only then do we become fearless, unshakeable, and unbreakable. Only then do we flow as we were always meant to flow.

As Matt points out here in Part 3, this is ultimately a religious discussion, since God – The Great I Am – is “that which does not pass away.” In the final installment, we want to bring together what we have learned in Parts 1-3, and have this religious discussion; but we need your help. Please comment below or e-mail me at philip(at)brickhousebodymind(dot)com if you have any questions, thoughts, etc.

Is there anything else in particular you would like us to address? Are you having trouble digesting the conversations? Do you think we’re crazy – are we wasting our time?

Please let me know.

What is the nature of your religious faith? How do the things we’ve discussed here jive with that faith? How does your faith play into your happiness? How does it help you through difficult times? Does your happiness depend on your ability to make certain things happen in this life?

Until next time, Sit down, Shut up, and Ask yourself what’s True.

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