Who do you Think you are?
To build on my past post, you may be wondering how you figure out who you really are. There may be more than one way, perhaps hypnosis, psychotherapy, or simple introspection, but for me, meditation is what works. I use the term loosely because I don't sit in a certain pose, don't burn incense and chant or do certain breathing techniques. I guess I'm lucky in that I feel I can get answer from my subconscious without having to have a ritualistic technique involved. For me, meditation is a deep focus on a particular thing that I dont understand, and it begins with a question. For meditation, I sit in my room with the door closed, I find low light works best, either two tea lights or I have a strand of dim paper lanterns in my room that works well too. I sit in a comfortable position, sometimes I lay down, but usually I have better focus sitting with my legs out straight in front of me and my hands relaxed in my lap. I prefer to close my eyes because I am a visual thinker and I find keeping my eyes open allows me to be distracted by things I am looking at. Once my eyes are closed and I am comfortable, I focus on the sound of my breath as it goes in and out, to help take my mind off other sounds in my environment. Once I have pretty stable focus on my breathing, I usually start seeing images in my mind, sometimes it is a place, many times it is a person. Don't be alarmed if you see the image of a person, they are there to help you find the answer to your question. Sometimes the person who appears is a little creepy looking, but realize that all of this is a manifestation of your own creation and it will be helpful in the end. When an image appears I am ready to begin asking my question. Here's how tonight's session went for me, as an example.
My image was first a set of mountains, I could make out the peaks against a dark sky but I could sense the "presence" of a wise person which I assumed was the Dalai Lama. Before I asked my question that I had planned, I noticed how ominous I felt the mountains looked and asked why I feel this way when I'm around mountains. The answer was "You are worried that they will fall on you, but you don't realize you can climb over them. You see? You have the power, not them." This was in the Dalai Lama's playful voice and I almost laughed when I heard this answer. How simple and true. Perception is key. As that question faded, I asked the one I have been struggling with, why do I crave the attention of other men, why does it affect me so much and what does it mean? I was given my answer in images this time, a mother too busy to play a game, a dad who was always working, a sister who didn't want me to tag along with her and her friends, friends wo moved away and didn't keep in touch.... The answer came I my own voice this time, "You don't feel like you are loved." Then I went back over those images again and asked again because it didn't feel like I got to the meat of the answer and then underneath the surface answer, it finally bubbled up, "you don't feel like you matter." An image of my younger son, Zach flashed into my mind, he is now ten, and for the first time he's becoming less emotionally needy of me. I haven't taken time to address it with myself but I think this is part of my issue. Whenever possible, I try to stay in focus long enough to cross-question my "answers" to assess how reliable they are so tonight I addressed the idea of feeling that I don't matter to anyone and the Dalai Lama's characteristic chuckle accompanied his answer to me. "Matter? Yes! You mother, you matter! You wife, you matter! You friend, daughter, worker, patient, writer, you matter!" He chuckled at the absurdity of me thinking I don't matter and for getting tearful at the thought of it. Then he told me, "Every person matter, every person makes a difference." And my session ended with a loud noise from my kids' room which made me lose my focus.
I have been trying to think my way through the Elliot thing to no avail, tonight's meditation is a huge step toward resolving some of the things that have kept me emotionally untethered recently. These answers come to me without forcing them, almost like word association, and many times they surprise me because it is stuff I don't or can't access freely without that level of focus. This is how I find out who I believe I am, and why I do some of the things I do. Being open to the concept is tricky for some, but it's not much different than having a stimulating conversation with someone and they bring up a point that you never thought about in that way, it immediately expands your concept of what is possible. I think of it as seeking answers from my subconscious, which is just a layer of thoughts and perception behind the closet door of your mind. It is helpful for me. I don't think there's anything to lose from trying meditation, even though it might take a few tries, the worst that can happen is you won't be able to shut off the outside world enough to get into deep focus. At very least, you get a few moments of relaxation, who would argue with that?
I know I bring up Geneen Roth a lot, but she was instrumental in my understanding of why I couldn't break some of the habits I have had from early on. As children, we interpret our world based largely on interaction with our parents, and that is a huge part in shaping our view of ourselves. As adults, we have the opportunity to revisit those ideas and rewrite our own story. It takes meditation for me to discover what the belief behind my emotion is. Yesterday it was that I was sad but the reason wasn't because Elliot didn't reply or because a friend did or said something-that was the surface stuff. That surface stuff bothered me because it triggered a feeling from childhood, that I didn't matter to my parents. The feeling was and is unfounded, just as many often are, and letting it continue to affect me is counterproductive.
Taking care of my health has to include working through these mental roadblocks if I am ever to overcome my obstacles with obesity. When I find myself reverting to autopilot I know I'm trying to block myself from an emotion, then it's time to investigate what's behind it so I can move on. It has saved me from comfort eating and made my mind stronger. And when I do comfort eat, I try to assess what's causing me to want to numb my self.
So last night's meditation was a big step toward one of my key triggers, feeling like I don't matter. I will continue to meditate about this, reaffirming the lack of validity in my gut feeling by reflecting on all the ways I do indeed matter. This is how we heal the mind. Now I will be able to recognize when this feeling crops up, and be able to discount this feeling as invalid because I already know I do matter. Brick by brick we rebuild our structure until we are mentally indestructible. That is how to know who you are. Not from the judgment of others, but from our own confirmation of our own truth.