The Inside Story
Meditation and present moment practices create space and awareness to wake up to what’s going on inside ourselves. The space we create allows us to separate from the inner noise. Through the awareness we begin to discover some of the stories we’ve been telling our selves. When we start to hear the stories then we can decide whether they’re truthful or helpful. The next thing to work out is what to do when they’re not.
I’m fascinated with the interior landscape of the human psyche. What goes on there creates our experience in the external world, it creates our reality. Many years ago I read the book Women Who Run with Wolves by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The chapter entitled Stalking the Natural Intruder really spoke to me and influenced the process of making peace with myself.
When I read the following paragraph a light went on…..
“In a single human being there are many other beings, all with their own values, motives and devices. Some physiological technologies suggest that we arrest these begins, count them, name them, force them into harness till they shuffles along like vanquished slaves. But to do this would halt the dance of the wildish lights in a woman’s eyes; it would halt her heat lightning and arrest all throwing of sparks. Rather than corrupt her natural beauty, our work is to build for all those beings a wildish countryside, wherein the artists among them can make, the lovers love the healers heal.”
I understood that to mean that there are all these different aspects of ourselves, some are delightful, some not so. These aspects all have their yin and yang and as much right to be there as the next. It’s easy to accept the aspects of ourselves that are sweet and kind, not so easy are the darker voices. But killing off the internal bad guys is virtually impossible and if we managed to, would that mean we’d be killing off the sweethearts too?
Before we wake up to what’s going on inside many of us get pushed around by the darker aspects. We believe the stories they tell us, we give them authority that they just don’t deserve. Dr Estes talks about one dark aspect of the psyche as being the ‘the Natural Intruder’. She says “While the cause of much human suffering can be traced to negligent fostering, there is also within the psyche naturally an innate ‘contra nastrum’, an “against nature ‘ force. This ‘contra naturam’ aspect opposes the positive: it is against development, against harmony, and against the wild. It is a derisive and murderous antagonist that is born into us, and even with the best parental nurture the intruder’s sole assignment is to attempt to turn all crossroads into closed roads…” Dr Estes names this force the predator and believes that it requires our immediate consciousness and containment!
How wonderfully freeing to realise that this “predator” is just a force and that there is an opposing force that would see me thrive and embrace my dreams. When I’m separate from and accept these forces I can choose whether to feed them or not. If you’re someone who has been wound in by this dark side then the good news is that it’s not impossible to break free.
The moment I identified myself as being separate from what was going on inside of me, life changed. At first the dark force kicked up a big stink. I had some hideous nightmares where the predator was set to murder me in the most gruesome ways. Eventually it gave up, things changed and the relationship eased. I began to light candles for my dark side and to accept it.
I have learnt that as long as I remain separate from it and use the tools that I have gathered it has no power over me. It’s easy to forget though, that’s why an ongoing meditation and present moment awareness practice is crucial. I also have four simple strategies that I use to separate myself from this dark force:
- The first is to become present and removed from the dark chatter by becoming aware of my breathing, this brings me wholly into the present moment.
- The second is to acknowledge any feelings that have been generated and then make a conscious choice to generate a positive emotion. For example I choose to feel happy, or grateful. I don’t mean to ‘think’ happy or grateful, but to physically feel it. If this gets a bit tricky to do, I know I have get moving physically (do chi kung, go for a walk, put on some music and dance etc). This has been such a useful practice to stop going down the slippery slope of feeling unhappy and hopeless.
- Thirdly, I ask myself a question. For example I ask “is this helpful?” or “is this true” or ‘is there anything I can do to change this?”. Simply asking the question separates me from the Intruder and brings me into the present. If there is any truth in the matter, then what a great opportunity to create change that will drive me forward.
- Finally, I become aware of what’s being generated inside and I name it. Sometimes I’m being taken into fear or doubt to stop me following my dreams. By naming it I face it front on and see it for what it is. From there I can make a choice about whether to keep going down the same track or not.
There are many people who never have this battle, who never have to consciously separate themselves from the dark. Perhaps their early experiences set them up differently, maybe some of us are just naturally more attuned to hearing and believing the negative. Either way it does exist in all of us, and we can choose to feed it or not. This is what happens when we don’t….
“When we refuse to entertain the predator, its strength is extracted and it is unable to act without us……. Women find that as they vanquish the predator, taking from it what is useful and leaving the rest, they are filled with intensity, vitality, and drive.” Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Bring it on!