‘Splitting logs is the part of the job Arne enjoys most.
“It’s a therapeutic. And it’s not a very complex job. Routine really, but not boring. So many things happen in our everyday lives bother us and cloud our day. Often, if I’ve been to a meeting and gotten worked up about something or other, I might go round thinking of all the things I should have said. But then, when I am standing by the chopping block, I don’t think about it any more. My mind is never so pleasantly empty as it is when I’m chopping wood.”’ Arne Fjeld (farmer, lecturer on forestry) – excerpt from ‘Norwegian Wood: chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian Way’ by Lars Mytting
Chopping wood is syncronistically meditative. It is ‘mindfully emptying’. It makes you present ‘in the here and now’ with its Flow-like quality that demands attention and focus. It is unique in the activities we do as it combines these triad of qualities simply and effectively. For me there are few things that re-set, centre and ground you as does splitting wood.
Chopping wood is a simple, repetitive task. Picking a piece of wood, placing it on the block, swinging the axe, picking up the split wood and repeating….again and again an again. Its physical, but with a repetitive set of moves, timing, balance and breath. Like many meditations it requires a degree of singular focus.
Empty of mind. Full of hearth.
Arne is quite right. There are few things as pleasantly emptying of regrets of the past and worries of the future as chopping wood. Pleasant too because even with an empty mind you are still creating something useful in the form of chopped firewood.
Flowing into the present
Have you ever noticed that when you’re really focussed on a task, you forget all your worries? The experience is so amazing because the activity forces you to let go of things that are burdening or niggling you.
When intensely physically or mentally engaged in such a task you can enter what is called ‘the zone’. This is you ‘in the moment’. You cease to have a sense of yourself and feel at one with everything around you. You are in the here and now.
This is called ‘flow’.
Here’s what I experience when I am in a state of flow:
- I feel at one with the world.
- I let go of my sense of being an individual and also any worries.
- I am completely focused.
- I feel very satisfied with what I am doing.
- I’m happy, although I don’t really notice it at the time because I am so focussed on the task.
At Aquafolium we regularly host wood cutting and chopping sessions. Not only do you learn a key woodsman skill, safely, but you become equipped in one of the most simple and effective activities we do. See here for details on the next course.