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The Appropriate Response

When confronted with the question of action, it’s natural to turn to a formula. If you’ve seen the show “Sex Education”, you’ll remember the scene where the young protagonist nervously attempts to apply a ‘map’ to his first sexual experience, touching his girlfriend’s vagina like the dial of a clock. Hilarity, and hard lessons ensue. As Alfred Korzybski said “the map is not the territory”. We all have our own version of the clock technique, whether in sex or life, don’t we?

The appropriate response calls for more than application of a formula; it’s an invitation for naturally spontaneous responsiveness. That’s the capacity to know what to do because we’ve cultivated the attention to tune into life, and, from a place below the conscious mind, instinctually feel what’s being called for. It’s not unlike a koan; there is no fixed answer, but a process that puts us in touch with a deeper knowing. Practice it:

  • The moment you become aware that you need to go pee, go pee – it sounds ridiculous but it’s basic training in paying attention to the naturally intelligent cues of the body.
  • In meditation, pay attention to the subtle whispers of sensations, thought and feeling. The more you attune, the more you’ll hear beneath the cacophony of habitual motion in everyday life.
  • Take an improv class. Brilliant exercise in responding from a location beyond the rational mind.