I’ve talked about incorporating the familiarities of pop culture references into my spiritual practices before but, recently, I’ve started using another offbeat [completely fabricated] method for my daily meditation practices. See, because meditation is such a foreign thing for me I have trouble really feeling like I’m committing myself to it when I’m doing it alone. Somehow, something so relatively new to me and my Western upbringing feels completely false when I’m practicing it by myself. So I thought that perhaps if I create a little bridge of familiarity between the new practice and things I feel comfortable around and emotionally related to, then I could ease myself into a routine over time that I really felt I was being genuine with.
So what the hell am I talking about?
My specific example involves the fact that no matter what traditional Hindu mantra I choose (and there are tons of them… who knew?!) I simply cannot take myself seriously when I’m repeating something over and over in a language I don’t even speak. It feels too pretentious. So, instead, I’ve been using small phrases (which – in case you aren’t aware – are all mantras really are. Even “om”.) that originated as song lyrics.
Man, just saying that out loud makes me feel kinda lame, to be honest. Ah well; I’ve done worse in a public setting.
Recently I’ve been spending my meditations cleaning house. In the last two months there was the relapse of depression that really knocked me over and then, just as the fog from that began to lift, I made the mistake of opening myself up emotionally and reanimating some old demons and battles that I’d figured out and left behind years ago. (My bad.) So in the last week or so, my meditations have focused on imagery of letting go of these “demons”, which take the form of recurring harmful thoughts (kind of anti-mantras) and erupting emotions that have no benefits or relevance to my mentality or life at all. I like to address these terrible mental habits like annoying ex-boyfriends who are unwelcome in my house (mind) and mess up my day and waste my time and simply refuse to go away. And, luckily there are a lot of songs that address such scenarios. Shawn Colvin’s “Get Out of this House” has been a great one to start with. Usually, I just repeat the title line during visualization practices, but sometimes I’ll feel my concentration waning and I’ll switch up to a couple lyrics here and there.
But no song has been as great of a mantra for this specific practice than… oh man, it’s kind of embarrassing… Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More”. I’m positive I’d be less embarrassed admitting this if it weren’t for the well-known psychedelic ‘Alice in Wonderland’-themed video. (I saw his giant hat at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!) However, feeling the slow-moving melody and just repeating “Don’t come around here no more…” when my mind heads back over to its habitual dark thoughts has been fantastically empowering. All the lyrics fit perfectly, too, which is beneficial to my adopting the whole song.
I particularly like to repeat this verse:
I don’t feel you anymore
You darken my door.
Whatever you’re looking for,
(HEY!) Don’t come around here no more
A few days ago I was inspired to do one of my semi-annual sage-burning, salt-spreading, crystal-cleaning cleansings around the house and that’s the song I put on during the ritual. The benefits of the song were multiplied by the immediate access to the musical composition, meaning that when the Heartbreakers rock out there at the end [with Tom making all those weird-ass ad libbed noises] it helps to usher in a great sense of relief and resolve to maintaining the healed, strong mentality achieved through the meditative practice.
It sounds kinda lame when mentioned out loud, but I found/find it to be quite effective as a meditation technique, in addition to being engaging and stimulating. And isn’t that what practicing spirituality should be anyway?
Progression in Hindsight
If you’ve been reading for any length of time you may recognize that one of my biggest (and most embarrassing) faults is my routine inability to just let shit go. For some reason, after a situation has emotionally drained me and ultimately imploded, I just looove to revisit it to figure out what can be repaired and/or salvaged. No matter where the shattered pieces have landed, I just have to go back to ground zero and try to make sense of it so I can, eventually, put all the pieces back together and place it in a perfect little frame to display in my “Closed Cases” exhibit (I assume.) I like to venture all the way back into these past dramas to poke and prod and try to make sense of situations that obviously made no sense ever (otherwise they’d still be functioning) instead of just accepting that sometimes disarray is an acceptable finale to a situation. (Thank you, Samuel Beckett!)
Returning to a senseless, broken, crazy-making situation to try to make sense of it or resolve it is exactly comparable to me drinking a bottle of wine in hopes of figuring out or curing my alcoholism. I know this. I’ve known this. I realized this many many years ago in fact. And, still, I catch myself making that same mistake even to this day, even after years of evidence that it never ever works.
And I kick myself for this fault of mine on a daily basis. Hard.
But recently I ran into a person with whom I shared many years of drama and general insanity. After letting her suckiness monopolize entirely too much of my time, emotions and energy (without receiving any of these in return, of course) I’d finally cut her off. Cold turkey. This is something I’ve never been able to do successfully. In fact, after I sat her down, explained why I would no longer be taking her calls and said “bye!” she continued to try to get in touch with me, claiming she had no idea why I suddenly didn’t want to associate with her at all anymore. (So yeah, my hour-long presentation highlighting my standpoints on the matter clearly had no effect on her whatsoever.) Even still, I stuck to my guns and never wasted any more time arguing with her or trying to get her to be more respectful or engaging in any part of her dysfunctional insanity. As a matter of fact, after about a month or so I never even wasted any more time thinking about her or being mad at her or feeling anything at all for her. This all happened a little over 5 years ago and even recently when she wanted to hang out and/or catch up, I was still completely emotionally disconnected from the situation and shrugged off her request without a second thought.
Whoa. That doesn’t sound like the obsessive, clingy, chronically emotionally invested, can’t-get-the-fuck-over-it image of me that I kick myself for routinely. In fact, that healthy choice seems pretty progressive and emotionally stable of me.
When I realized that I’d been capable of actually following through with something I’d honestly believed I’d always been incapable of, I sat down and thought about all the other times in the last few years that I might’ve been able to do the same in similar situations. I was kind of convinced that this instance of me genuinely discarding something broken/dysfunctional/insane and completely emotionally getting over it in the aftermath was just a fluke. Just a one-time occurrence that wasn’t likely to happen again. But, the more I really thought about it, it seemed like I’d actually been capable of a good deal of emotional weeding. From where I sit right now, there are at least a dozen instances I can name where I found myself thoroughly immersed in and ravaged by a toxic relationship of some description and finally cut off the pointless interactions and walked away from this emotional tarbaby* AND was able to completely emotionally disengage from this scenario without having to go back and try to make sense of it all. These situations all vary in their previous intensity and power over my emotions and thoughts but in every case I’ve been able to just be done with it. Completely.
Now I’m not saying I’m cured just because I’ve been able to successfully remove myself from harmful relationships a few times because even doing it once is still damaging. (That’d be like saying, “Well I must be getting better because I don’t shoot heroin as often as I used to.”) But it really does give me a lot of faith in myself by having proof that I’ve been able to do this one thing (for years now!) I’ve always assumed I was incapable of. Makes me feel like doing it a couple more times isn’t that big or insurmountable of a deal.
So. Um. Yay me!
::: Smiling tilt of head. Gentle pat on back :::
*The use of “tarbaby” in this instance is a reference to the Br’er Rabbit folklore of the Old South… NOT a racial slur.