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OCD – the art of


 Sitting on the bus in fifth grade waiting for it to fill so we could be on our way I was preoccupied with counting 1234, 4321… this would incorporate my fingers and sometimes my toes.

Back then I didn’t even know what OCD was and to this day I wouldn’t say I have, or have ever had, a classic case of OCD but I do believe I’ve exhibited some signs of at least a mild case. This ritual would take place almost every day on the bus and it always had to be done evenly with each finger, or toe, getting its chance at being counted, So if I counted 123 on my left hand I had to count 123 on my left toes.Not that I would actually count out loud or even point to these digits but there was an ever so slight movement and more importantly and mind knowledge that these digits were in fact utilized.

Over the years this “ritual” eased off and matured in it’s variety to a form of OCD art. This morning while laying in bed half awake I found myself thinking/stressing about business and did the count thing not only with my hands but with my breathing as well. Don’t try this tactic yourself as it comes from years of honing and care. For some reason it brought to mind those earlier years when it would frighten me to be doing such an odd thing, and it is an odd thing, however now I realize it’s very common and for me it’s almost a way to get myself to focus. You would never see me doing this or even know it as the movements are so slight and inward they could never be detected, so don’t try.

Fortunately for me this “ocd” type behavior doesn’t prohibit me from carrying on with my every day life and has never stopped me from doing anything. Like I said it seems to be directly related to stress and happens only on rare occasion, at least as far as I’m aware of. I’ve heard of cases where people are so affected it takes them hours to get ready for work etc. or even eat. Washing the hands multiple times, turning lights on and off to be sure they are in fact off, checking the stove 10 times before walking out the door, making sure you take exactly five steps from the time you walk in the room till you get to the bed…. it goes on and on and I think while someone might be able to function with perhaps one or two of those rituals I do believe there are those who are limited in their daily activities due to the obsessive compulsive disorder.

3 Comments

  • i did everything in fours, i can never step on a sidewalk crack with my right foot before i do it with my left and for some ridiculous reason i have to touch you last… to this day. Why am i telling you this? well i am certainly not trying to make it all about me, i just think that coming from similar backgrounds helps me to relate and i wanted you to know that you arent alone. BY FAR! i guess we should count ourselves lucky that we didnt turn into full-blown obsessive-compulsives, we were just looking for a little control and stability where there was none.

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  • did you know that counting the breath is a stabalizing technique in the basis of samatha meditation?

    The Tibetan term is shiné [shi-ne] (SHi-gNas) and the Sanskrit is Shamatha. In the case of the Tibetan, the first syllable, shi, and in the case of the Sanskrit, the first two syllables, shama, refer to “peace” and “pacification”. The meaning of peace or pacification in this context is that normally our mind is like a whirlwind of agitation. The agitation is the agitation of thought. Our thoughts are principally an obsessive concern with past, conceptualization about the present, and especially an obsessive concern with the future. This means that usually our mind is not experiencing the present moment at all

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    • That’s fascinating information. I’ve always been interested in the benefits of meditation.

      Samatha means calm. Samatha meditation is an effective but gentle way of training the mind to develop inner strength and freedom from turmoil. This produces a happier and more unified state of mind, leading on to clarity and understanding. This path from calm to insight was followed by the Buddha himself and is a central tradition of Buddhist meditation.
      http://www.samatha.org/meditation/index.html

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