Bert’s strawberry

(If you’re new to Monkeytraps, Steve is a therapist who specializes in control issues, and Bert is Steve’s control-addicted inner monkey. That’s Bert at left, taking a break.

Bert speaking:)

While writing that last post about monkey mind (“Bert is nuts,” which Steve retitled from “Bert’s nuts” after his wife said it sounded like testicles) I was reminded of Steve’s favorite Zen story:

A monk is fleeing through the jungle from a tiger.  He reaches a cliff, has no choice but to leap over the edge, and finds himself hanging in midair by a root.  Above him the tiger froths and rages.  Then he looks down and sees another tiger below him, jaws open, waiting for him to fall.  At that moment he notices a wild strawberry plant growing out of the cliff.  He picks a strawberry and pops it into his mouth.  “How delicious!”  he says.

End of story.

Stupid story, I always thought.

Who eats fruit on the verge of death?

Steve has tried explaining the symbolism.  The first tiger, he says, represents the past, while the tiger under the cliff is the future.  Because of monkey mind we’re almost always running away from one or towards the other.  But this monk was unusually sane: able to realize that the only real thing was the present moment (the root he was dangling from).  In that moment he was safe from both tigers.  He saw this so clearly that he was able to pause in his running, forget past and future, and taste the strawberry.

Uh huh.

Me, I’m not that sane. 

The tigers occupy most of my attention.

There’s always something I have to do, or forgot to do, or am afraid I’ll forget to do, or won’t do well enough.  Or screwed up ten or twenty years ago and still feel guilty over.

Always something to run from or run after.


And yet.

Yesterday, in the middle of the day, right in the middle of running-after and running-from, I suddenly felt tired.

I was home in my bedroom 

So I sat down on the edge of my bed.

It felt good to sit down, I noticed. 

This surprised me, actually.  I’d been so busy running (with my feet and in my mind) that I’d stopped feeling anything.

It felt nice to feel something…nice.

So I experimented.

I leaned sideways and lay down on the bed.  I lay there on my side with my eyes open, watching a square of sunlight through the bedroom window.

The room was quiet.  The sunlight was pretty.   

I felt my heart and my breathing slow down.

I stayed there for five minutes.  Then went back to work, feeling different.  Stronger, somehow.  More hopeful.

Remarkably so, in fact.

Steve wants to add something.

Most of us treat our bodies like their main purpose is to move our heads around from place to place.  But our bodies are where feelings live, and our feelings are a direct line to what we’re needing.  This has been called “the wisdom of the organism,” and when we listen to it we make different choices, often better ones.  Often I’m able to help clients in my office feel better, physically and emotionally, just by suggesting they put their feet up on my hassock, or rest their head on the back of my sofa.   We all need that sort of relief.  We all deserve it.

Go pick a strawberry.


Want more? 

Check out “Listening to Your Body” on the Natural Health Perspective web site.

18 responses to “Bert’s strawberry

  • Linda

    There truly is so much to be heard in silence. God gives us all the answers in that place of Peace. What a wonderful feeling!
    Pure Love does conquer all.

  • Linda

    How adorable is that picture of you and Bert!
    Love it!

    It kind of brings up feelings when I was younger; I guess knowing somebody was by my side I could rely on.

  • rob k

    Stay in the moment? I hope Bert can help us do that!

  • Kelly

    I feel you provided a wonderful example of how moments can be cultivated, even in the busiest of days. 🙂

  • fritzfreud

    Thanks, Kelly. Even tired feet can help in the process, if I’m willing to listen.

  • Marie

    Sitting on the beach watching the ocean is my strawberry. Your Zen story came in the knick of time. I was beating myself up today for something that happened many years ago. Thanks. I can let it go now.

  • fritzfreud

    Thanks, Marie. Bert’s glad he could help. 😎

  • Kelly

    I shared an excerpt of this with a friend today
    (giving you credit of course) and this is what she said, “I smack my shoulders into doorjams when I am overloaded, completely forgetting that I am more than a walking to-do list. Your reminders and encouragement are so attuned (and appreciated)!.”. So thank you for helping me, and helping me help others.

  • fritzfreud

    Thanks so much, Kelly. I can’t think of a nicer compliment.

  • chuck

    Thanks for the website “Natural Health perspective”…..

    on letting the body have a say too.

  • Kelly

    So I wanted to say that you provided me with a fun inspiration. I was looking at my little Shihtzu and thinking how she is really wise, and then she mentally transmitted her secrets of happiness to me that I wanted to share. Her name is Gingersnap and these are her secrets to happiness….

    As soon as the sun rises, wake up and wake up those around you. No one should miss a rising sun.

    If you are feeling lonely, plop in someone’s lap.

    When you are hungry, stare politely at your plate. Add a soft whimper as needed.

    When you sense someone’s sadness, kiss them fervently.

    If you need attention, stare lovingly into another’s eyes and tilt your head to the side.

    Make time to play, and play, and play.

    Get others to play with you and never take no for an answer.

    When a ray of sunshine comes through the window, go lie in it.

    Remind your loved ones that there is so much more to life than technology. When you see them staring into a computer screen, plop in their lap. Add kisses as needed.

    Go for regular walks and embrace the moment. Take in each scent, notice all living creatures, and give a big hello to everyone you meet.

    Take time out in your day to watch the squirrels in your yard. Later, dig up all the goodies they hid. It’s fun to later watch them try to figure out where it went.

    Watch in amazement the stunning hummingbirds drinking sweet nectar from the flowers.

    Snuggle regularly and don’t be too shy to ask for back scratches and belly rubs on a regular basis.

    Never take your loved ones for granted. When you have to be apart, upon their arrival, greet them as if you haven’t seen them for years. A little dance of excitement is a nice added feature.

    Lastly, treat each day as if it were the only day that mattered.

  • fritzfreud

    Aw, Kelley. Thanks so much for that. It’s lovely. Makes me want to stop what I’m doing and find a sunbeam to lie down in.

    PS: Apparently my pit pull operates out of the same playbook as your shihtzu. Except his version has a whole chapter on joyous farting.
    ~ Steve

  • Arden Clise

    Silence is golden and I don’t have enough gold. Good reminder. I’m always going, going, going, running from the silence. Thanks for the reminder. Now I’m going to eat a strawberry grown from my garden. 🙂

    • fritzfreud

      Thanks, Arden. If you’re like me, the silence feels less golden than scary, at least some of the time. It’s why most of us live like moving targets. Enjoy your strawberry.

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