Inner work has been quite an adventure for me at times. I began this inner work after becoming involved in shamanism and ultimately working with shamanic plant medicines such as Ayahuasca and Iboga. These plants can do amazing things to propel people forward into a state of improved mental health, but often the work begins after taking the medicine. The most popular term that people use to describe the application of the gifts that these medicines bring is ‘integration’. I have worked steadily over the last couple of years on integration and one of the most important aspects of this work is observing the mind. I have come to a point where I’ve been able to observe my thoughts and begin to change the kinds of thoughts that occupy my mind. Some repeating themes have surprised me. I wrote previously about getting acquainted with The Bully Within and the inner adventures continue.
Becoming mindful can be a bigger experience than I had ever imagined. Of course, I had never imagined becoming ‘mindful’. I just wanted to cure myself of a deep four year depression. This led me down an astonishing path of revelations that continue to amaze me daily. A requirement of my healing was to observe my thought patterns. What havoc! I will start out by saying that this is an ongoing process as is all of this inner work but one of the first things that struck me was how often I had conjured up images of disasters. It reminded me of listening to my mother’s worries when we were kids. “I could see you falling and breaking your back and the ambulance coming!” There were lots of references to the spinal cord. My father was a big one for “you’ll crack your head open!”. This always inspired interesting images in our little heads but the point is, that although there were some accidents when we were kids (I was one of 5 children) reality could never compete with the incessant vivid catastrophes that took place in my mother’s mind – it simply wasn’t possible. Well, as it turns out, I take after her and far too many of the thoughts that came to my mind with alarming frequency were disaster scenarios. Not only related to my child, although that one I’m sure many can understand.
I was surprised to discover that I was haunted by such thoughts on a regular basis. The internal stress that this caused was immeasurable not to mention the effect it had on my outlook. These thoughts would come unbidden at all times of the day, completely unrelated to anything I was doing at times. I would have images of accidents and all manner of painful or dangerous events happening either in my house or on the street.. things falling, me falling, tripping and getting caught under a bus, stepping on cut glass, getting electrocuted, fires, injuries, natural disasters, you name it. Granted, sometimes these things were related to issues I was dealing with i.e. while cleaning up a broken glass or getting on a bus but I realized after observing my thoughts long enough that this was sort of like a program that continued to run completely independent of anything I was involved with at the time. These little images flew into my mind and out again and I was left with the impression of them and the internal reaction to these impressions. It’s hard to believe that this had been happening for so long without me being aware of it or taking note. I guess I had never thought that this was something that could be changed or that I had any control over. But I did and once I became aware of this pattern, I began to address it and intentionally change it.
I remember that the idea of being on the edge of my seat in a movie theatre (or in my living room for that matter) was never appealing for me and now I understand this better. I had a disaster movie marathon running through my mind on a regular basis. Having worked to change the landscape of my mind, I admit that I’m still not in any way tempted to watch disaster flicks.. I don’t think it was ever meant to be my thing but I’m grateful to be at liberty to find my ‘edge of the seat’ experiences in other ways. Of course there was a point where I breathed easier and was pleased with my progress about this. After some diligent work I can honestly say that this doesn’t occupy my mind much at all anymore. Did I feel peaceful as a result? Of course, and then I was presented with the next challenge but this is a path I have chosen and there’s always more work to do.
I will admit to having more of an attraction to adventure films rather than disaster films (or thrillers) and although that’s still true, I have found that this inner adventure is quite enough for me at times. This work has also involved its fair share of external adventures as well involving travel and plant medicines (travel on many levels) so I think I am sufficiently sated in terms of stimulation. And as far as movies go, there are times that this work for me involves watching films and receiving lessons, insights and healing using this medium as a tool. It is a very customized regime that is also ongoing. I will write about this more fully in another post but for the time being, I just wanted to share about the nature of my thoughts past and present, both thoughts I have worked to oust from my mind and thoughts about observing my thoughts. Is that enough thinking for today? I think so, we can always move onto feelings soon, which is quite the adventure too.