Subtle notes

60 thoughts
last posted March 16, 2019, 3:11 p.m.

50 earlier thoughts


Last night I discovered another way to be with extreme irritability. The pragmatic considerations still hold true: avoid sugar, avoid yelling at your youngest child. I failed miserably in both regards. But after profuse apologies, hugs, and shared reflections, I went to bed, where most of the work described in these notes takes place. There I felt and remembered just how tumultuous these energies were. When I’m no longer actively suppressing them, I can feel the turmoil they create in my body, mind, and emotions.

Physically, it is like a massive swarm of tiny buzzing insects pervading and trapped by my whole body. I can even hear them in my ringing ears.

Emotionally, I hate everyone and everything. My mantra is “leave me the #%^* alone!” Nothing appeals, everything sucks, and I want to curse it all.

Mentally, I flit back and forth between speaking the curses and asking for forgiveness and help, even as I try to figure out what’s wrong with me, what is the meaning of this, what is my relationship to this experience supposed to be, etc.

In meditation, the task as I understand it is to say neither yes nor no to the experiences that arise. It is rather to practice indifference. So the three possibilities here, I suppose, would be to 1) say yes and verbalize the curse, throw the nearest pillow at the wall, or worse, 2) say no and actively suppress it by blocking it out, replacing it with positive thoughts, praying for deliverance, seeking physical remedies, etc., or 3) remain entirely still and aloof no matter how uncomfortable it might get.

What I experienced last night is a fourth way, I suppose. Lying in bed, I felt an impulse to let these urges run through me by tracking them and saying yes to them at some level, by consciously allowing them to stream in through my head and face down through my body and directing them closer to the ground in all their swarming turmoil. There’s a certain satisfaction or fulfillment in this, as if giving answer to a pressing question.

But then the strong, let’s say secondary, impulses came too: the urges to swear, curse, throw things, and in general to destroy. So my mind intervened with the obvious thought that this sure seems like demon possession. So I said a rather silly prayer and shortly thereafter realized the silliness of it: “Let these energies be from You.” In other words I was contingently arguing with reality.

But somehow I decided I had the capacity to handle them whatever their nature or source. And this was the fourth way, saying yes, welcoming and embracing the energy, becoming the turmoil, becoming the rage, while at the same time vigilantly guarding against acting on any of the secondary impulses. This allowed even more of the energy to flow. My hypothesis was that it needed to flow all the way through, and, by not acting out, I could facilitate its completion without being turned into an evil monster in the process (or at least not permanently). Picture a writhing, powerful, enraged but unreactive creature, like a gargoyle softly and fluidly grunting, all the tumultuous energy flowing, not stunted, not jumping or jerking, all of it finding a continuous space and time, a place for it to be, to exist as a valid quality of movement in this world.

This morning my provisional conclusion is that to invite a demon to pass through your house without letting it piss on your furniture is not the same thing as being possessed by it. It may well constitute something like love.

9 later thoughts