Wednesday, September 15, 2010

...behead yourself!...





(bz digital art using image from AuroraDreams and my own photographs)

 

Behead yourself!...

Dissolve your whole body into Vision:

become seeing, seeing, seeing!


Rumi


I often observe myself thinking too much.  Oh, the stories, fictions, scenarios, intellectualizations, rationalizations, dramas, histrionics, worries, tragedies, fantasies I can concoct! 

Once I notice what I am doing - I am half-way free.  Observing, noticing, seeing are key.  Then I have a choice, and I take Rumi's suggestion to 'behead myself'.  Once the 'beheading' is complete the suffering stops.  :-)  Yes, many of my most oft-visited stories/worries make me suffer.  Stop the story, eliminate the suffering.  Simple yes.  Easy - not always.

To stop thinking so much - can simply be a decision one makes and monitors.   Meditation can also be used to quiet the mind.  Focus on the breath, inhaling the beauty around you, using your observer-self to ensure you do not revert to analyzing, judging, or building a story around what you see.

Quieting thoughts that make you suffer is a healthy thing to do.  Our bodies react to our thinkingChemicals and hormones are released by the body in reaction to thoughts.  This, of course, prepares us to respond appropriately to thoughts that tell us of imminent danger.  e.g. "That car is out of control and headed this way!"   Our body/mind cannot tell the difference, however, between a well-imagined thought and a real or immediately relevant one. (Remember the previously used experiment on this blog to prove this point?  Imagine a lemon on a cutting board.  Imagine cutting it and bringing half up to your mouth for a lick.  Is your mouth watering a little?  If you imagined well, it is - and there is no lemon - there is only your thinking and your thinking alone has produced the body reaction of salivating!)  Worries are well-imagined thoughts and the body reacts to them as if they are an imminent threat, releasing all the appropriate chemicals to facilitate a fight, flight or freeze reaction.  Imagine then, the stress that worrying or fretting places on the body. 

Rumi's exhortation does not seem quite so extreme now does it?  Sometimes we need to metaphorically 'behead' our self.  Stop the thinking, judging, fearing, planning, ruminating.  Return to our senses - literally.  See, hear, touch, taste, sense what is.  Release imaginings of what might be or what should be.  Behead our self and simply be with what is in this moment.

 It has been useful for me to underscore to myself that  bodily systems react to worrying as if there is an imminent threat,  and then producing stress reactions that invariably abuse and age the body.  So I use Rumi's over-the-top suggestion and behead myself.  It works!  Keep your eye out for a headless wonder! 


20 comments:

  1. As a big fretter and worrier over imaginary problems, I should really ponder this advice. This post makes for a nice follow-up to George's most recent stimulating entry at Transit Notes on the difference between looking and seeing, labelling and perceiving.

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  2. I concur with all this, and constantly try to 'behead' myself! But what I find is this: it's a lot easier to do 'alone' rather than in 'society'. In 'society' those fictive, self-boosting, insecure stories and dramas - about who we think we are, how we feel the need to represent ourselves, how we seem to feel an automatic compulsion to 'compete', and 'judge' ourselves in the eyes of our companions, work colleagues etc - in 'society', those stories can run away with us. And it's only in those solitary, reflective moments do we realise what self-decepting, unnessary illusions they all are. But I'm working on it!

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  3. A great post, Bonnie, and yet another synchronicity; I am currently reading Douglas E. Harding's book, "On Having No Head: Zen and the Discovery of the Obvious." Referring to this book, Huston Smith has written: "I know of no other piece of writing as concise as the opening chapter of this book that stands a better chance of shifting the reader's perception to a different register."

    The quote from Rumi, one of the inspirations for the title of Harding's book, is wonderful. For me, the significance is not just in the first line calling on us to "behead" ourselves, but also in the third line calling on us to "become seeing, seeing, seeing!" Cut off the head and its chatterbox mind, then be an observer or witness to reality, including one's own life — that's what the message is to me.

    Thanks for raising this important issue. I look forward to reading the comments.

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  4. Headless? Seems chaotic, without direction, without purpose. Wait a minute....suddenly that takes on a different tone as it sinks below the surface, doesn't it? A good deal more peaceful down there, more serene. Thanks for the invitation, Bonnie. You've done it again! EFH

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  5. Very useful imagery... I like the metaphor very much. The deep, cleansing breath sometimes is enough for me too as I intellectualize way too much sometimes. What a great tool to add to my arsenal, thanks Bonnie.

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  6. Lorenzo: Thank you. Yes, George and I seem to strangely and delightfully be in sync these days.

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  7. Robert (Solitary Walker): What a good point. We do need time alone (quality time without distractions) to effect psychological and spiritual change. Thus the name of your blog, right?

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  8. George: My goodness - you seem to be an open chanel, making deep connections on so many levels!! I was planning on making an order from Amazon today and I will definitely add Harding's book to my list. Looks like there may well be a few of us walking around headless!

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  9. Expat: It does seem counterintuitive...at first doesn't it? However, as you say there is much peace to be found when we find our way to quiet the mind. Peace is good. Turmoil wreaks havoc with our very tissues - peace invites (to use your word) healing and wholeness.

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  10. Vicky: Oh yes, that old trickster 'intellectualization'. We can talk ourselves into or out of almost anything. How much more skillful it is to simply embrace what is.

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  11. we can kill ourselves in our own heads...letting thoughts run rampant...i like your thoughts bonnie...they resonate...

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  12. Lately, my version of beheading is to pick up the matter of my thoughts and plop them down in a different field. I don't know if that makes sense to you, Bonnie, but for me, it's choosing to pull my head out of where it is, and completely shift to another focus. I notice that it is easy for me to feed myself more of what I want. If I want to wallow, I keep feeding it (envy, worry, etc.). But if I can manage to pick up that little piggy and put it in a different field, and start feeding it something completely different, it really helps!

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  13. Brian: Thank you. Yes, in and with...sometimes literally.

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  14. Ruth: Yes, whatever works for you treasure it. Sounds to me as if you are using a form of disidentification. Disengaging from a thought stream, a mood, and making a conscious choice to move to another arena of thought or feeling.

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  15. Excellent advice, Bonnie. Rumi has such an interesting way of putting things. I also think too much. Art makes me see and frees me from analytic thought. Walking in nature helps too.

    One of my favorite quotations from Shakespeare’s As You Like It:

    “I can live no longer by thinking.”

    I’ve been working on 2 characters in my current WIP: one who thinks too much and acts too late, and the other who acts without thinking and then regrets it. I love how your post helped me frame my thoughts on writing today.

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  16. I like the idea. I'll have to use it next time I can't turn off my mind while I lie awake in the middle of the night worrying about something!

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  17. Sarah: I am thrilled if a post can be of any help. I will try to remember Will's words, "I can live no longer by thinking". That man knew a thing or two!

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  18. Pat: Oh yes - a scythe can be a welcome metaphorical tool in the middle of the night.

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  19. If only someone I know would really be open to such wisdom......her spiral diverges from mine and I cannot stabilize her. each must ultimately choose for themselves... You put out food, but some poor suckers are starving...ah, the world...such a silly mystery stew

    Warm Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

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  20. WOW! What a fantastic way to describe it! An unforgettable image! Always profound, Bonnie...that's what you are!! Enjoyed this immensely! A great take-away for today! Love, Janine XO

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