Working with Momentum
Frisbee catch enthusiast canine at National Rainbow Gathering, New Mexico 2009 Card URL:

Card #604 – Working with Momentum

There is a momentum in the trajectory of your life that is crucial to work with intelligently.

Each of our lives is a trajectory between birth and death in which energy and change are constantly at work so that we are always in motion. Sports contests and political campaigns are frequently evaluated in terms of which player, team, candidate or political party is gaining or losing momentum.

As entities in motion, our lives are greatly affected by momentum. If someone is powerfully moving along a particular trajectory, positive or negative, they are likely to keep moving on that trajectory unless deflected by a more powerful force. An addiction, positive or negative, is an obvious example of a powerful trajectory. If someone has been smoking cigarettes for twenty years it is highly likely that tomorrow they will be smoking cigarettes. To change the momentum of a deeply engrained addiction such as cigarette smoking would take a powerful deflecting force. The force could be internal, such as a massive act of will to break the habit, or it could be external, such as being thrown into some sort of survival situation where cigarettes are not available. Positive addictions also build momentum. For example, I have a positive addiction to aerobic exercise. The “runner’s high” wherein endorphins flood the brain is highly rewarding and addictive. If I’ve been doing my aerobic workouts for the last twenty days in a row, on that twenty-first day I am very likely to work out as well. When I’ve been working out regularly I feel an antsy, impatient feeling in my body after I’ve been awake for two or three hours. I want to exercise; it feels great doing it; I know it’s good for me to do it and so I will do it. My positive addiction has built momentum and is likely to continue. But that momentum can be broken by inner or outer causes. For example, I might have a mood swing that causes me to lose interest in working out (inner cause). Or there might be a viral bug that affects many of the people in my vicinity including me (outer cause). If I take several days off from aerobic workouts, the momentum of my positive addiction stalls. To regain that momentum will take an intervention, a deflection, because the new momentum is toward not working out. Each day that goes by that I do not work out strengthens the negative momentum, the stagnation, and the deconditioning effect of not exercising. I’m not using it; therefore I’m losing it. My new homeostasis, my new equilibrium, physiologically and psychologically, is that of a sedentary person. To break that negative momentum — the inertia of stagnation — and regain the lost momentum of my positive addiction, I need a turning point, the first comeback workout. That workout may be highly counterenthusiastic. I will likely feel sluggish and will have feelings and thoughts of regret that I let myself go. I may not get any runner’s high, and may have to force myself through an act of will to get the workout started. If I do, and follow up the next day and the next I feel myself regaining momentum, and this process will likely keep snowballing as I keep growing the positive momentum.

The process of losing and gaining momentum is constantly at work in our lives. For example, we’ve all had the experience of working enthusiastically on a project and suddenly becoming sidetracked. We lose forward momentum on that project and have trouble getting back into the zone with it. Then we procrastinate and the whole thing stagnates or dies of stalled inertia. However, when we “get on a roll” with a project, the more time and energy we put in, the more determined and enthusiastic we become and the endeavor seems to build on itself. Our living space gets messy to the point where it will take many hours of hard work to get it cleaned up. It’s hard to find enthusiasm or will for that gigantic effort so we keep letting it slide and entropy increases. We meet someone with whom there’s a lot of mutual interest. More and more contacts occur where both parties experience positive communication and rewarding feelings. The relationship gathers positive momentum.

In the Yoga Aphorisms of Pantajali, written about 2200 hundred years ago, it is said that energy is like a muscle; it grows stronger through being used. When we put time, energy and will into something, its momentum grows stronger. Conversely, when we neglect an aspect of our lives, we experience loss of momentum with that aspect. This card challenges you to consider your life as a trajectory and see where your momentum is in various spheres of life — creative projects, practical endeavors, career, relationships, physical health, finances, etc. If you have gained momentum on an anti-life trajectory, try to create a turning point, an act of will where you take the first step in a different direction. If you have just gotten sidetracked from something positive, turn back as soon as possible and regain the lost momentum. If you are building up steam and gaining momentum on a positive track — keep going! Watch out for distractions and sidetracks that could steal energy from your forward momentum.

Consider this an auspicious time to work intelligently with momentum.

The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science defines psychological momentum as, “the positive or negative change in cognition, affect, physiology, and behavior caused by an event or series of events that affects either the perceptions of the competitors or, perhaps, the quality of performance and the outcome of the competition. Positive momentum is associated with periods of competition, such as a winning streak, in which everything seems to ‘go right’ for the competitors. In contrast, negative momentum is associated with periods, such as a losing streak, when everything seems to ‘go wrong’.”

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