We talked last week about the potential freedom to be gained by minimalizing material possessions. But it can actually be immaterial possessions, in the form of persistent negative thought patterns, that have the power to sentence us to a life in prison.
We think we are our thoughts. Why do we think we are our thoughts? Because they’re loud and constant, badgering us every waking moment – hell, even some sleeping moments – demanding our attention. It’s hard to get away from them, which is why I think meditation of any form – traditional, or walking in nature, or playing a musical instrument, or painting, or journaling, or even taking a bath – is necessary. Whatever it is that allows one to step away from oneself and observe. Do I really believe I’m a stupid freaking idiot because I called that guy Don again instead of Dave? No. I got the “D” right and he’s the spitting image of Donald Trump – well, except for the hair. It’s not my fault.
Add up every freaking mistake you’ve made in your whole entire life and if your intent was good, if you never meant to hurt someone, then there is never a reason to call yourself a “stupid freaking idiot”. If your intent was bad, you meant to hurt someone, and you feel sick about it, then you have a conscience, which is good. Apologize profusely and move on. Lambast yourself with “stupid freaking idiot” over and over again? You start to believe you.
Years ago, when I was deeply grieving and my brother Ray came to the rescue, after about a half an hour spent with me and my bad energy he said, “Do you realize how many times you just called yourself stupid?”
It was like a slap in the face. “Huh?”
“Stupid. Add them up.”
I hadn’t noticed. I truly didn’t know.
“There was the stupid about the kids,” he said. “And the friends, and the truss plant, and the cottage . . . Don’t call yourself stupid.”
He was offended. Ray didn’t want anyone calling his sister stupid, even her. Well, if he was offended, then I certainly should be, right?
And what if you’ve actually done something stupid, put your life in jeopardy say, by the choices you’ve made? Does calling yourself stupid, berating yourself, help?
Amanda Lindhout, captured and held for months in Somalia, is an extreme example of this. Why, as a woman, go to war-torn Somalia? So many times, while reading A House in the Sky, I wanted to jump into those pages, stop her from going. But she was an aspiring journalist and Somalia was her hurricane. Huh? She tells the story of a young Dan Rather in the early 60s, working for a second-rate TV station, driving into the eye of a hurricane bearing down on Galveston while other reporters ran. Reporting live from the storm made his career.
Lindhout and her male companion were captured within days. Held, in disgusting conditions, for ransom. The strength of Lindhout’s mind is astounding. She befriends her captors, tries to understand them, reads the Koran, adopts their faith. When kept in darkness for days and deprived of physical activity she looks for the smallest morsel to be grateful for each day, like her meagre food rations were placed at the door and not thrown at her. After a horrid form of torture – just reading about it upset me for days, I can’t imagine enduring it – she came close to giving up. What saved her? A bird. A small brown bird. A visual example of freedom. Flight. Escape, if just in the mind.
“I hadn’t seen a bird in nearly a year,” she writes. “I’d always believed in signs – in charms and talismans, in messengers and omens and angels – and now, when it most mattered, I’d had one.”
Even in ordinary circumstances, freedom of the mind can be tricky according to my meditation app www.headspace.com. Why? Because it can feel like insecurity. The mind wants to know things, have control. But it’s a healthy insecurity.
Bruce Lee, better known for acting, was a prolific writer of philosophy. His daughter Shannon has compiled his teachings into a podcast worth checking out, and one of Lee’s messages is quite apt here.
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
Website photo is of my son Jay being shapeless, formless, like water, beside the water, with his nieces Simone and Naomi.
🙂 I should give this a try.