There is a space between the way the world sees you and the way you perceive yourself.
The in-between space is where your subconscious thoughts live. They can be hard to see, these quiet plot lines, because you're so used to avoiding them that you mostly don't even know they are there. This is the place where the subconscious thoughts you seek to avoid gain power over you without you knowing it.
Most of us, I think, dwell in an external space: we focus on keeping up appearances, staying relevant, involved, active.
We like to participate in thoughts and actions that bolster what we want the world to see. It is so much harder to stop, withdraw, and examine ourselves in a private, truthful way. If the outside looks good, why bother with the inside?
When I was drinking, I lived from the outside in. If you were okay with me, I was okay with me. End of story. Alcohol took root in my life because I didn't want to face my private fears. I didn't want to sit with my feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, boredom or anger. Why would I? After a few drinks those feelings got quieter; I could believe in the version of myself I presented to the world.
I lost myself in the chasm between the outside and the inside.
Why would we? Who has time? Why go poking at the hornet's nest with a stick when everything is sailing along just fine?
I guess it's a choice, then. Do you want to live an unexamined life? Or not?
A friend of mine said to me the other day, "I feel like I'm missing everything that happens to me, even though I'm right there. I'm so consumed with the next thing, always in a hurry, that I don't absorb anything that is right in front of me."
Look at those things you do just because you always do them. If you always volunteer for committees and activities, try saying no. If you always watch television at night, try turning it off. If you always read before you fall asleep, trying lying quietly in bed instead. Instead of an hour on the computer, try an hour of meditation.
Your in-between space will show up the moment you stop.
I've been experimenting with meditation. I say 'experimenting', because I don't really know what I'm doing. I had noticed, though, that as soon as I was alone in the house, I became edgy, restless. Both kids were off at school, my husband at work, and I would pace around my house, my thoughts racing about what to do next. Laundry? Jewelry orders? Vacuuming? Blogging? Run errands? I'd freeze like a deer in headlights, get overwhelmed, and start puttering away on the computer just to get out of myself.
I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts, so I'd tweet, facebook, blog. I just needed to be out in the world, projecting.
So I tried stopping. I found a quiet, sunny spot on the floor to sit and think, just to see what came up.
It wasn't pretty.
My subconscious negative thoughts gain power when I don't practice looking at them. They are the white-noise that clutter up my accomplishments, my serenity, my peace of mind, my gratitude.
I resolved to sit with them at least once a day. I pondered why the negative, undermining thoughts showed up loud and clear, and the positive, peaceful ones evaporated?
I think it is because what we refuse to look at actually gains power in the dark. It has certainly been that way for me with drinking, eating, and insecurity.
It's a work in progress, to be sure. As hard as it is to stop, meditate, cultivate the gentle observer, it's even harder to take her with me out into the world. I'm working on that.
Something popped into my head as I meditated this morning, and it's kind of ironic:
The journey starts when you stop.
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