A 'moving meditation,' to delay resignation
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, April 2, 2015


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I’ve had a fantasy of writing a column, from a log cabin (with indoor plumbing) in the woods, that begins with this quote about living deliberately. Then, along with my weekly column, I would write a sequel to Walden, share with you my joy in the simple life, maybe pass along some tips for those readers still trapped in modern civilization.

“1. A simple diet, mainly whole grain bread, potatoes, butter, milk, vegetables and fruit. 2. No alcohol or tobacco. Drink spring water if possible. Coffee made from cereal — not real coffee. Very weak tea. 3. Retire early and rise early. Wash the body with cold water upon rising. Exercise — preferably by working in the garden or by taking a brisk walk. 4. Wear loose and porous clothing. Expose the body to the sun.”

I’m quoting here from Gayelord Hauser’s Be happier, be healthier,” in which he quotes a Danish nutritionist, Mikkel Hinhede. I bought it 50 years ago and tried at intervals to follow it.

Since then, some nutritionists moved away from butter, but I think butter’s back now; I also use Olivio. Coffee has gone from and returned to favor, and tea is good if you like it, which I don’t. Water from the Quabbin is fine with me, along with caramel or pumpkin lattes.

I’ve added a lot of other foods to Hinhede’s list. Because of my concern for some corporate farm methods, I’ve tried to be a vegetarian, but it’s hard: for holidays I do buy meat that comes from “humanely raised” animals, and eggs from free-range chickens. Fortunately, Gayelord was OK with pasta and with rice (brown not white). I know he wouldn’t approve of donuts, potato chips and my various Easter candies.

To be honest, I don’t really want to live in the woods; between my yard and Chip’s, we have spruce and maple trees, one catalpa: close enough. I like some vista, so I can see my enemies coming. Speaking of which ...

Apparently we are already entering the new presidential campaign season; usually I enjoy them. So what is this unfamiliar feeling that has me reaching for yet another Cadbury Crème egg? Is this what dread feels like?

Does this come with age? After so many campaigns, do elders say, “not again!” thinking they’ve seen and heard it all before? Or do some find the new political arena to be dustier/muddier than usual?

No, it’s not the dirt floor; it’s the emptiness. Too many citizens aren’t there, aren’t even watching from the cheap seats. There seems to be no way to reach enough voters with the truth, with real solutions, with an honorable candidate, even if one has these. The recent loss of media objectivity is hugely dangerous to our republic. If you find a good person to run, his/her enemies will lie, and much of the media will repeat the lies, whether out of laziness, lack of time for research, or partisanship.

When the first Republican candidate, Ted Cruz, announced last month, he was pounced on with partisan glee. Self-described “Democrat and progressive” Boston Globe columnist Michael A. Cohen wrote that Cruz “hates immigration reform.”


Actually, Ted Cruz, far from hating immigration reform, is a leading proponent of it: reform being defined as a better legal immigration system to replace the current illegal immigration. Cohen’s statement is inaccurate; where are the Globe editors?

I haven’t chosen a favorite candidate yet and know I’ll feel a need to counter-attack all inaccurate, unfair attacks on most of them for the next 18 months. Along with “take a brisk walk,” I’ll share with you my plan to get through the stress of trying to save America.

Last winter when my chiropractor, Dr. Dennis O’Connor, suggested I use an exercise bike for my problem knee, I joined the Marblehead Council on Aging and began to use its facilities at the Community Center for the first time.

Along with the fitness room, I discovered various classes aimed, it may be, at seniors like me who’ve spent the last few decades sitting in front of a computer or the television.

When I was young, I could lose myself in hitting a tennis ball, catching a baseball, shooting a basketball. Now I learn there is a game called pickle ball I might be able to play, if I improve my co-ordination and balance. So my first class is tai chi, which leaves no room in my head for anything but making my hands go up and down as my feet go slowly forward, or side to side. Once a week, I concentrate on something besides current events/politics/saving the world.

The class is small; some of the other seniors have been doing it for two years and others are new like me. The instructor, Regina Gibbons, MBA, a certified instructor of the Tree of Life Tai Chi program, lets us all work at our own pace, or even sit for some exercises if necessary.

Like my friend Henry David, I’m not ready yet to “practice resignation.” Instead, for one hour a week, my mind is focused on breathing, slow movement, awareness of the moment. Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is a mind and body practice, a “moving meditation.” If you are a Marblehead senior citizen who is also feeling overwhelmed by something, feel free to join me there, starting next Thursday; beginners are always welcome. There is a suggested $5 donation per session.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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