“I don’t know who my grandfather was, I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.”
Have you ever noticed that we can see things more clearly when we look into the distance than we can when we are right in front of something? It is like, when we are looking right at something up close and personal, the larger details get lost and we can only see very small details. As we look too closely at the blooms of our summer flowers we miss the bee buzzing right next to it, or we miss seeing the cute caterpillar walking beside us.
This is true throughout every aspect of our lives. It is summer and we have already forgotten how we couldn’t wait until the warmer weather came as we had a very cold and long winter. From this distance, we can see more clearly our winter in context of the whole year. And, as we are right in the middle of the heat of summer, we can only see and feel the shimmering heat around us. Nature is such a great teacher because it is all around us and we can be very visual creatures. So we see in nature and in the seasons how the world works.
In life, we often stay stuck in the past when we are mired within our defenses. When we can allow distance between us and what is giving us difficulty, causing us to defend ourselves, we then have space to see things more clearly. We gain greater perspective to allow new ideas and inspirations to come to us.
As I was working with a young man the other day, he and I found how true this is for him in his life. He is a man in his mid twenties who has had an unconventional life. His family is very active in a type of community living, and their life has taken him and them from Chicago, to Mississippi, to New Orleans, to West Africa, back to New Orleans where and when hurricane Katrina hit, and then back to Mississippi.
Presently he is a lead singer in a band and is a vibrant man. However, for most of his life, he and his large band of siblings defended and protected and supported his mother. When she had joined this community, her parents had disowned her. In addition to joining a community, she also joined in marital union with a man of a different racial culture. This was too much for her parents; especially her father. The man she married became very involved in the community and world issues as well as involved with other women throughout their lives together. In fact, he had other children in addition to the eight with her. This young man I am working with thinks it might be as many as four. His mother engaged her children in helping her by letting them know things, which really and ideally belong only between a man and wife. This young man is a good son and became too close to his mother. He is now afraid that he is too tempted by many women and becoming like his father in ways that he doesn’t like. He already has one child with a mother he is not married to. Not only does he avidly defend and protect his mother, he equally defends his position with his mother. He loves being close to his mother and idealizes her.
As we worked together and I showed him through image and words the cost of his being too close to his mother as well as the cost of keeping a distance to his father. He started to see a different picture or perspective. He views his father as loud, unavailable to him and the family but available to the greater community. I reminded him that he too through his loud music and being a public figure entertains a greater community and now through his compulsion with other women is much like his father in ways that he most dislikes. His defenses started too loosen allowing him to take all this information in, integrate it and move forward. With this new perspective he can begin to allow inspiration for a life that he wants to live take hold. This life is his, and instead of being afraid of not being a good person as he viewed his father, and his grandparents viewed their daughter (his mother) he can then have the space to gain inspiration for his life.
We have just begun to work together, there is still much to do and learn, yet already he is beginning to recognize that through new perspectives he can find a way to move out of his past fears and start to carve out a new sense of himself. This is what we want for ourselves also; to peel off our defenses that no longer serve us, to live in the present, and to have space and distance to see and live our own truths.
Shift Your Story: Guided Visualization/Meditation
We all have some way in our lives where we realize that we are defended or we defend someone important to us. A have found that defending someone is really the other person’s job, and that defending us shows us where we might need to shore ourselves up and where we might need some nurturing at a deep level.
So let’s do a small meditation/visualization together. Sit comfortably with both feel easy on the floor in front of you. Take a few deep breaths, slow and deep. Take a moment and think about a place in your life and in yourself where you feel defensive. See it clearly as you also are aware of your deep breathing. Say out loud to yourself exactly what you feel defensive about and where you noticed in your life that you were acting defensive. This could be with a person, with something someone said, etc. Now, ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t defend yourself or the other person and let their words or actions sink in to you where you can hear them at a deeper level. This doesn’t mean taking them in as yours. It means listening to them instead of deflecting them. As you do this, what happens inside of you in reaction to really hearing the words and the actions? How do you respond inside of you? What thoughts or feelings come up for you? This is all we are doing with this right now. As you have noticed, then begin to notice your breathing again. Become aware of your breath, breathe two deep breaths, and slowly open your eyes.
This is all. Notice how you feel and if you feel connected to you or not. This exercise is about paying attention to something inside of you; that is all. There are no proclamations or judgments; just learning.
As we can begin to become less defensive, we can learn so much more about ourselves. Again, if you wish to share your responses to this meditation, feel free to share.