Photo by Averie Woodard
My mind is a bad neighborhood, and I try not to go there alone after dark. ~Anne Lamott
I’ve been having fun! Those of us who are interested in healing our wounds tend to engage in strange practices. I call it practice because you get to do it more than once! Today I felt it was time to get all of the really mean, self-inflicted comments out of my head and on to paper. Fun, right? Now and then I feel the urge to do this so the crazy can’t keep sneaking up on me – it has to do its name-calling to my face, so to speak.
I used an exercise from a delightful little book, Queen of Your Own Life by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff. They call the voices the Mongol Hordes – which is brilliant!! The exercise is this: set a timer for 10 minutes and let the Mongols have at you. They get to say their piece and then they need to be supportive, or silent. Turns out my Horde is full of people I know pretty well…my family, friends, old flames, various disgruntled aspects of myself. And they have horrible things to say about me, really hurtful things. But I just listen and say “Uh huh, any more?” And they go on, and on, until they run down.
OK, I lied about the fun. It can be pretty painful.
What the heck is the point of this, you ask? Me too sometimes! But if you have never tried really hearing the mean comments your mind can spew, you may find it’s quite eye-opening. The Horde’s yelling is the background commentary I live with every day. Ignoring it isn’t a long term option. I start to believe it. I make decisions and choices based on it. I really need to know if that is a good idea.
So, I listen. I write it all out in a journal because writing tends to help me access these things (plus later I can go back and address any of the comments that are really sticky and don’t want to go away). Today I learned I’m ugly, stupid, will soon be on the street, a fool, incapable, hated by all, and more…the usual attacking Horde stuff. I find mixed in with the horror of what I say to myself are a few actual gems of usefulness. Yes indeed, I could use a better system to track my finances. I’ll get on that! A lot of it is simply ridiculous (not everyone hates me…), so I can just laugh and let it go. And that feels good!
I also find I have compassion for the Horde. These are voices and beliefs I have internalized from people who (mostly) wish me well. They want to help. The voices want me to be safe. Often, I just don’t want their version of safe. So, I like to thank the voices, and then I love Kathy’s and Cindy’s idea of asking them to be supportive instead of negative. Delicious!
After this practice I feel so much better! The Mongols are off my case, and I can move on with my life with a lot more clarity and excitement. And when they start to mass on my borders again I know just what to do.
How about you? Talked with your Horde lately?
Photography by David Marcu
The Lute Will Beg
You need to become a pen
In the Sun’s hand.
We need for the Earth to sing
Through our pores and eyes.
The body will again become restless
Until your soul paints all its beauty
Upon the sky.
Don’t tell me, dear ones,
That what Hafiz says is not true,
For when the heart tastes its glorious destiny
And you awake to our constant need
For your love
God’s lute will beg
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus
Meditating this morning with Deepak, repeating “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am the Universe), an image popped into my mind of myself and all of you, all of the world, in a dark cocoon. We were soupy, like the melted mixture of cells a caterpillar becomes before rearranging itself into a butterfly. (Such a powerful and often used metaphor!) We were all the soup, in a dark cocoon, busy transforming. It brought home to me that this is something we do together; never alone.
I can’t say, “I’m enlightened, and you’re not”. I’m not “better” than you because in a very real sense I am you. (I am the Universe, and so are you.) When I see someone act with what I feel is hatred, it reflects a hatred I still hold within me somehow. I want to look at my thoughts then and see what’s behind intolerance, or fear, or anger. Do I feel people with different beliefs are ignorant? Willfully evil? How do I see other’s treatment of me? Personal attack? Rejection? What pain do I let my underlying thoughts about the world, and my fellow travelers, bring me?
My deep center is peace – I feel this now more than ever! But seething around it are thoughts and beliefs that drag me right out of bliss. And the things I see in the world reflect these beliefs.
My point…We are transformed together. I could go further with the butterfly metaphor, but this is the main point. The most beautiful, kind person you know, and the most evil – we’re all in the same soup; we are One. Somehow.
There’s no logic to it. The world may disagree – some parts – though others have been saying this for centuries. It’s nothing new… just a morning revelation for me. There is no us vs them or me vs you, we’re all bug soup together, becoming who we really are: Truth (with a big “T”), peace, love, joy – those words that can seem so overused they cease to have deep meaning – but when you feel them, you know exactly where you are headed, where you want to go. And it makes me smile to know I’m not in the soup alone!
Aham Brahmasmi (ah-HUM brah-MAHS-mee) is a Sanskrit sutra whose English translation is “the core of my being is the ultimate reality, the root and ground of the universe, the source of all that exists.” When we repeat this sutra and let it resonate deep within, we expand our awareness of our eternal, unbounded nature. http://www.chopra.com/aham-brahmasmi