Consider listening to a dramatic reading of the following post here.
If you choose to listen though, please scroll to the bottom of this email to find a special invitation.
Disclaimer: Below is a political parable, but I’m using it as an analogy for a more personal point so I hope you’ll bear with me.
Once upon a time in a town far away the rulers wanted to better control their subjects. So one night, while everyone slept, they secretly unleashed a lion in the town square.
The next morning, the lion was Rawrrrrr-ing and people were afraid.
“Help!” They shouted. “There’s a lion in the town square!”
“Don’t worry!” Said the leaders. “We will save you!”
They gave the people several orders for their own safety, which the people followed, and after several attempts the leaders captured the lion.
“Thank you!!” Said the people. “You are so amazing! You take such good care of us!”
From then on, the rulers could say “for your safety” and people were happy to comply…
My partner Vince told me this story about a year ago, though I admit adding my own dramatic flair in this retelling.
About a week later, I heard one of my meditation teachers talking about the mind in a very similar way:
- The mind tells us we have a problem.
- Then it tells us how to fix the problem
- Then we scramble to do what it says.
- If that scrambling helps at all, we think the mind is our savior.
- If the scrambling doesn’t help, we ask it for more advice.
- Then we scramble scramble scramble until at some point we feel better and think “we” did it. Thank you, mind!
Let me give a personal example.
Mind: You’ve had a long hard day.
Self: You’re right. What would make me feel better?
Mind: You deserve a glass of wine. And some cheese. And a cookie. And another cookie. And some popcorn…
Self: You’re right! Nom Nom Nom…. Gulp Gulp Gulp. Hiccup.
Mind: WHAT DID YOU JUST DO!?? I THOUGHT YOU WERE TRYING TO BE HEALTHY AND YOU JUST MESSED IT UP!
Self: Ack! You’re right! I forgot! What do I do?
Mind: Get up super early and do an extra long workout.
Self: You’re right! That’s what I’ll do! Phew! Good Solution!
Self: I’m exhausted. What a long day.
Mind: Right? You got up so early and worked out so hard… you deserve a root beer float and some truffle fries.
Self: You’re Right!! …
And on and on we go, scrambling away.
Note: Though I’ve labeled this dialogue Mind and Self, that is just for readability. We all know what’s really going on here… mind and mind and mind and mind.
When I heard my teacher make the point that our minds so often scold us for doing the very thing they just told us to do, and then try to convince us they can solve the problem they just told us we have. I think I literally yelled to Vince across the house:
“OH. MY. GOD. THERE IS A LION IN THE TOWN SQUARE!”
This has become my shorthand now. When I catch myself trying to use my mind to solve a problem my mind generated, I stop the process in its tracks. (No pun intended 😉
Because what better way to be safe from imaginary lions than to stop believing them in the first place?
The mind has had a lifetime of practice and has modeled itself after so many other minds to release scary thoughts onto the mental screen. When we react to those thoughts as if they are real and beg our mind to save us, we keep the cycle in motion. The mind The mind has the power and we (whoever we are) can feel like victims to all the scary things: worry, failure, insecurity, danger, scarcity, rejection, death, etc.
We then beg the mind to give us direction to not have to feel these things and the mind is usually thrilled to give us that direction. Often Multiple directions. And conflicting directions. And outdated directions. And heard-from-some-guy-on-YouTube directions. It’s enough to keep a body running in circles for a lifetime. No wonder so many of us can’t relax!
The mind cannot be blamed here. It has been programmed by us, for us, usually with the goal of keeping us safe.
But what does it take to notice? That without the mind’s chatter, we are almost never in danger.
Thank you all for reading and listening.
Would you like support with some of your mind-lions?
Sharon Cavanaugh and I are hosting monthly calls to resolve, dissolve and evolve together.
We’d love to have you join us for our free calls.
To RSVP, simply reply to this email with “YES!” to get the link.