Two Wolves

Don’t Fight Yourself

Being mindful is about being present, now. here. In this second. It’s also about turning down the noise. If you engage in “battle” to do this, you cannot succeed.

Why not? Because you are fighting yourself. You have to acknowledge and embrace yourself – who you are – all of it. It won’t magically go away – no matter how hard you fight. It’s you. You are stuck with it. What you do with that is up to you. For me, when I find something I need to deal with (old ghosts), I have to find time. They keep coming back until I do. It may be a day or a week. I look at it (emotional ties, past events, who I see in the mirror) and allow myself to explore it. Usually, that process of getting real well acquainted with those ghosts is painful and uncomfortable and enlightening and rewarding. It lets me put them in their place. Sometimes that place is a box in a closet somewhere – that I may never open again. Sometimes that’s changing a habit – even for a day. Whatever I do, ultimately, there’s no fight. Perhaps a good analogy is someone standing watch. During that watch, a few things were seen and some other things were noticed. And nothing happened.

For what I do, the notion of being able to watch thoughts go by, let them go, and gradually empty the mind is one of the beginning exercises. Here, empty the mind is more about not thinking about other things, being present, cleaning house so to speak, and allowing that now open space to remain open. There are other things to do once you can do this.

The scientific basis for this can be found in brain wave measurements. Beta – our normal waking state – is noisy and the state for verbal activities. Alpha – a creative, alert, relaxed state – is sometimes experienced just as we wake up in the morning, before we are fully awake. It’s also experienced by artists, musicians, and others who engage in activities that call for non-verbal, creativity. Delta and Theta are the other two. Both are mostly connected with sleep – and deep meditation.

Back to the “fighting” issue – when a person begins any meditation or mindfulness practice, they are required to come to terms with themselves. It’s not my requirement. It comes with the practice. Thoughts, memories, feelings and emotions will all show up – everybody comes to the party. It’s an open invitation. So it’s more productive to welcome them (even the unpleasant ones) and then deal with them than to try to keep them out.

Fighting only makes “the other” stronger. The solution? Stop fighting. Do something else. This is hard to do. But once you can discipline your mind, you can a) not think about it right now and/or b) find a creative solution.

From the “Two Wolves” story,… which one do you feed?

Fighting against anything makes whatever you are fighting against stronger. You are putting your effort, your energy, and your thoughts into that fight. Instead, of feeding that wolf, feed the other one. So then, instead of looking for ways to fight, look for ways to make peace with yourself and to put those old ghosts to rest.