Lost In The Loop

Ancient philosophers going back more than 6,000 years thought about a lot of stuff but mostly about nature and about how to live a better life.

Today’s professional philosophers are mostly professors and mostly write to each other arguing ever finer distinctions about things that don’t really matter. Except maybe when ideas from Descartes or Derrida filter into the common consciousness denying the provenance of the spirit.

These people, and all of us really, often get caught in a loop. We get lost in an idea about truth or good or how people are treating us or how we feel. We get stuck in a loop of thoughts and emotions. If we loop too much, we’ll wind up in the office of a mental health professional.

In programming, we often program a for-next loop. For i=1-10 do this, i=1, do, next i. Then we forget to say what happens when we hit 10, so it just goes back to 1 and starts again. And your computer hangs up. (Or you dump a lot of granular product on the floor like a client of mine did once.) Lost in the loop can have dire consequences.

Observers and thinkers across many cultures and millennia have told us–break the loop, intentionally divert your thinking, take a deep breath and slowly exhale.

Try the 4-7-8 breath. Inhale through the nose and count 4. Hold the breath and count 7 at the same pace. Exhale slowly and completely counting to 8 at the same pace. Three of those should bring calm and break the loop.

This is then the time when we can bring our attention to the spirit and remind us of our first principles–love God and love our neighbor. Both Jesus and the Apostle James tell us that means action–finding a way to serve. Small ways or bigger ways. Just serve. Then you are out of the loop and onto the way.

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