There is a moment of utter destruction.
Some would call this rock bottom
Everything we believed to be true comes into question
All the behaviors and beliefs that ruled our lives are in doubt
Our ability to perceive reality properly is in doubt
There is an inner questioning of our very sanity
We feel broken, destroyed
There is grief for past years that we feel may have been wasted
We feel anger towards our abusers who stole things from us, they had no right to claim
There is a condemnation of ourselves for being mislead, abused, and undermined by others
There is a fear of the future and a feeling of doubt as to how to proceed
The going has gotten tough…and we have no idea how the tough get going
This is the moment of deconstruction
Deconstruction of our inner self.
Deconstruction of the world as we have been perceiving it
Deconstruction of our beliefs, our priorities, our perception, our values, our mental behavioral patterns
This is the moment of both utter destruction and epiphany
There has to be a destruction of the incorrect, self hurtful perceptions and beliefs
Truth needs to be seen in a new and different light
Our previous beliefs about wrong and right, being a “good” person no longer serve us
We can realize that what others tell us to do to “be a good person” may not serve us
We finally realize that “others” have their own agenda and speak to us about our behaviors out of that agenda
Reality and perception are personal and individual
We must create our own reality and choose our perceptions of that reality
Allowing others to do this for us, or force their reality upon us, ends up in the destruction of our souls
Now we realize that in the midst of the destruction of who we have been up until this point, is the beginning of our starting to live
We claim the right to choose how we perceive things.
We claim the right to feel what it is that we feel
To think and perceive the truth as it best serves our soul
We draw new boundaries within ourselves and do not give others permission to decide what those boundaries are
We give ourselves permission to study, to learn, to research, to think and to evaluate
We have as much of a right to our beliefs, our thoughts and our feelings as anyone else does
We no longer have to feel guilty for refusing not to set ourselves on fire, for someone elses’s agenda
We find that we can know ourselves better than anyone else can know us
Those that claim to know us better than we know ourselves are manipultors and we owe them nothing
The person who had been neglected is ourselves
The brilliant mind that needs to be set free is our own
The compassion in our hearts should be valued. Not crushed and taken advantage of
We deconstruct all that has been true
We reconstruct from where we are, in the present moment
We are born anew and can begin to live
The rain falls softly at first
It alerts us to nature outside of our window
The rain falls violently
It alerts us to the vulnerability of our humanity
The wind blows smoothly
It reminds us that nature can be strong
The wind turns into a furious rampage
It reminds us of our own emotions and thoughts
Someone calls to us from inside the house…
It enlightens us to the fact that we are conscious
Of both the outer and the inner worlds we live in
We live in both worlds…
the one of our outer environment
and the one of our inner chatter…
Sometimes like the wind
Our minds can be still
For a time
Perhaps long enough
to find peace
Everyone has heard the phrase from the bible “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” This is a translation and most people have a general idea about what the point of it is. It is hard to know what the original words were or of they even translate into English with the exact meaning in tact.
I like to rephrase this in my own mind to “Do unto others as you would have done unto you, if you were them.” You can see that I added three simple words at the end.
I was thinking of writing about my reasons for liking to think of it and also why I teach this version to my children. it is not so much that the standard wording is bad or that anything is really wrong with it. This is not to offend anyone who sticks strictly to the exact wordings of the scriptures.
My version captures the original sentiment that was intended by the words, in a way that is safer and more clear, in my opinion. The reason for adding the last three words, is that people tend to assume that other people want to be treated the way that they want to be treated. People also assume that other people feel the same way as they do, about things.
Everyone is different and unless you are inside of another person’s brain, you do not know what it is like in there. A very simplistic example would be helping someone to bed.
If you were to attempt to recreate your most comfortable sleeping arrangements, in the name of making doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, then you might turn out the lights and cover them with blankets. However, it is very possible that the other person is most comfortable sleeping with the lights on and only a sheet covering them.
if we think of the original words, in a logical way, then it actually comes out the same as the version I like. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Well what I would have done unto me, is that I would have the person check with me about what I feel. I would want to be asked and listened to.
So, if you were going to tuck me into bed, I would not want you to just assume how I feel safe and comfortable sleeping. I would not want you to turn out the lights, just because you like to sleep in the dark. I would want you to ask me how I want the lights to be. In my case, I would want something still on, but not necessarily a bright overhead light.
If i were to follow the rule “do unto others as I would want done unto me” then I would have to ask you how you wanted the lights and the blankets, rather than assuming that the way I sleep should be the way you sleep. I would want you to ask me, therfore to be true to “as you would have done unto you” I would have to ask you how I should tuck you in.
Do you want the blankets? Do you want darkness or a nightlight? Do you want a stuffed animal, like I sleep with? Do you want a kiss on the forehead to assure you that you are safe, the way I do with the old grandma’s I take care of for work?
The point is to respect the rights, feelings and thoughts of the other person. I feel like this has become a lost art.
So, now I say goodnight. Since you are curious to know…I sleep with 5 very soft blankets and no sheet. Sheets are too cold on my skin. I sleep with my socks on.
I like the bunny in his cage, right next to my bed for company. I have to have a small light on. Never complete darkness. And yes, I do have my favorite stuffed animals in my bed with me My current favorites are my little cow, my little pig and my sheep that has a baby sheep in her arms. I will take some pictures for you tomorrow, but it is time to sleep.
Blessings and may everyone do unto others as they would have done unto them, if they were them.
Focus on the person right in front of you
Pay attention to the things that they say
Discover who they are and how they feel
Decide if your time is worth spending with them
Be decisive and clear with yourself
If you decide to be with them
Then give them this moment of your time
Value the moment to the full extent that you can
Learn more about them and see what they see
Find something in common to connect on
Learn how they are similar and struggle the same
Validate them so they are not alone
Learn what is different about their life than yours
Add this learning into your scope of understanding
Every person you choose to connect with
Can open yours eyes to new ways
To view the world as they see it
Each person you spend a moment with
Can give you a great gift of a new perspective
That may enlighten your soul and invigorate your mind
It is like reading a book and seeing what the characters see
Experiencing the world from the character’s point of view
Everyone has a different story and a view that’s unique
You can add little pieces of them to yourself
The more you really listen and are open to learn…
the more you will gain for yourself
New knowledge and new ways of seeing things
Every moment has potential for new possibilities
If you hold the moments dear to your heart
I like listening to talks by Ajahn Brahm. He is a Buddhist monk who gives talks about how to live with a more peaceful mind. His talks are about anxiety, depression and other mental health focused issues. The talks are on YouTube and can be searched by his name.
There is one talk I remember in particular that had a section about insomnia and worrying at bed time. He gave an interesting technique that I would like to share with you.
At bedtime you take off your shoes. Nearly everyone removes their shoes at bedtime so this technique can be used by almost everyone.
You take off your left shoe and call that one The Past. Then you take off your right shoe and you call that one The Future. You set down each shoe and leave them on the floor, outside of the bed. Take off the left shoe and set the Past on the floor. Take off the right shoe and set the Future on the floor.
You never take your shoes to bed, so this way, you remember to leave the past and the future outside the bed. Do not take them to bed with you. They will be there in the morning.
I like this technique because if you associate it with your shoes, then you will always remember it. You can remember not to take the pain of the past, or the anxiety over the future to bed with you. Set them on the floor and they will be there tomorrow.
Not that I have been able to do this every night, but it is something to work on. It is true that your problems are not going anywhere. They will still be with you tomorrow.
Just as your shoes can wait until tomorrow for you to put pick them back up again, so can the past and the future.
There is nothing that you can do to change the past, recover from past trauma, or to ensure the future, while you are trying to get rest. Those things just keep you awake. If you could actually just take them off, as easily as your shoes, then you could relax and get to sleep.
Insomnia is caused by worrying about the past and the future.Memories of the past torment you. There are things that should have been …..and things that should not have been….
The future is an unknown and your mind tends to experience obsessive thoughts about what is going to happen in the future. We have fears of certain things happening.
Sometimes we do not easily identify our thoughts as being past oriented. We think of the past as something that happened years ago. But in reality, anything that happened prior to this moment is in the past. Things that happened at work today and the conversation we just had an hour ago, is in the past.
I am sure it would take a high level of mindfulness (perhaps enlightenment) to be able to remove the most recent thoughts from our heads, but it is fascinating to me that some people can do that. Perhaps we could simply allow those thoughts to occur but not feed into them.
I spend hours each night feeling bad about things in the recent past. Then I spend precious sleep time worrying about what events are going to trigger me into post traumatic stress tomorrow.
I am so fearful of being in mental trauma that I fear the triggers of the next day. It is like impending doom. Tonight I am fearful of taking my daughter to therapy tomorrow. I do not like going to therapist offices. I do not like the video camera filming me when I get called in to discuss how I feel about her progress or lack thereof.
The entire situation surrounding her having to go there, is traumatizing to me. Every time I have to go to the office, I a forced to relive trauma . So every week, the night before the appointment, I lay in bed and picture how they will traumatize me in the office tomorrow.
But the truth is that the lack of sleep makes it worse. The more sleep deprived I am tomorrow, the worse the trauma will be. There is nothing productive I can do tonight other than to sleep.
So tonight I will try to take off my shoes and leave them beside the bed, on the floor. The left shoe is my past trauma and the right shoe is tomorrow’s post traumatic stress. Neither one of them belongs in the bed with me tonight.
The theory of mindfulness says that we should care for our thoughts. Even if we cannot dismiss them as easily as taking off our shoes, then we can at least be kind to them. Our thoughts and feelings do not require judgement from us. They are just our thoughts. it is what our mind is choosing to do.
We can be kind to our thoughts by allowing them to exist without judging them or shaming them. If we just let them exist as they are, then maybe we can not attach so much energy to them. The less energy we give them, the less powerful they will become.
If we can lesson the severity and the energy of the thoughts of the past and the future, at bed time, then it is a good step. It may be easier for us to sleep, than if we fight with our own thoughts like they are our enemy. If they are part of us then so be it.
Let them exist and then let them rest until tomorrow. We must get sleep for the sake of our mental and physical health. Perhaps bedtime is the time to focus on our spiritual strength, rather than our mental weaknesses.
I have been pondering these things and cannot do them any better than you can, but I would like to learn. The more we consider mind / body / spiritual connection, in my opinion, the more accepting of ourselves we can become.