Saturday, July 28, 2012

Imaginary Conversations

Affirmation:  I release myself from imaginary conversations and fully trust in God’s loving care.

This affirmation was created during a visit to our mountain retreat place.  It’s a small two bedroom condo in the North Carolina mountains, in a community called Hound Ears.  It’s called that because the two mountains it lies between look like doggie ears, or so I am told.  The condo looks out over the hills, a few ponds and a pristine golf course.  I journal in the morning sitting on the porch.  Many mornings I watch the mist rising from the hills as the sun begins its ascent.  One morning there was a heron flying through the mist.  I put up a couple of potted plants containing Petunias so that there is food for the humming bird who visits.  We have one dear friend who calls it Shangri-La.  Shangri-La being a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley. Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia — a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. In the novel Lost Horizon, the people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly aging in appearance. (  Hound Ears is our Shangri-La and if you saw the number of healthy, hearty octogenarians and nonagenarians who reside here, you might think so too.

When I am in Hound Ears, I never want to leave but unlike many of the residents who are retired and can come for six months, we are lucky if we get to stay for a few weeks.  Most years we have a lot of family and friends come visit and we enjoy many moments of sharing time and making memories.  Then, towards the end of our vacation we have some quiet time.  It’s a nice balance and gives me time to reflect, write and pray. As the time to leave gets closer and closer, I have to use all my tools to help me to not go home “early.”  I have to do all in my power to stay in the moment and to relish the present so that I don’t leave this healing place before the actual time.  Truly, it is a mediation, a moment to moment meditation.  As soon as I let go, my thoughts jump to home.  Home, some years, can mean I am returning to what are for me, some challenging situations. 

I’ve been guilty of having many imaginary conversations with many people.  Why do I say guilty?  Well, I am usually thinking about what I can say, or what I would say or what I should have said or how about, what I could have said!  What words would have been more effective.  Will I have the right words?  Are there any words?  Do I have the power to help someone else “see the light” or the power to make someone else go from being sad and anxious to happy and calm?  Can I say anything to improve and lighten another person’s load?  Have you ever been here?  Have you ever had a continuous, one way conversation over and over?  The essence of suffering is wanting things to be different than they are and that’s what I’m doing.  I am creating my own suffering  because I want to change the way another is perceiving something.  Certainly, there are communication tools that can sometimes achieve this desired result but it can’t happen if I only have the conversation in my mind.  Writing, journaling helps me but this kind of self-talk usually leads me to a very unsettled feeling.  How can it not?  There is no resolution.  It never really ends. It’s like a recording on repeat.  But, it serves no purpose, does it?  It takes one away from the moment.  It takes me into my imagination and unless I choose to paint it, sculpt it or as now, write about it, it has no closure. 

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test all of us fall either into the “introvert” or “extrovert” category.  There is a range in each section so one’s score can be high or low on the scale.  What the authors of this test are referring to when they use the words introvert and extrovert are not how you relate to people but more, how you get your energy.  An extreme introvert might need to be alone most of the time while an extreme extrovert might need to be out with people all the time.  The category also refers to how one may communicate.  One type of personality says exactly what they’re thinking when they’re thinking it.  The other personality type ruminates on what they want to say, sometimes over and over depending on the degree of introversion before they say anything.  Just ask yourself if you have to “practice” what you want to say before you make a phone call, especially a call involving something that requires a resolution.  Your answer will give you some indication of whether you’re an “E” or an “I.”  I am a weak “I.”  I practice and depending on the situation, I can find myself practicing way too much.

Mind you, I’m not practicing for the best.  I am usually practicing for what I think will be an uncomfortable conversation.  One of my other affirmations is “The best is yet to come.” but when I’m facing some potential confrontation, it’s really hard for me to call that one into existence. 

When I began creating the affirmation about “imaginary conversations”, I found myself using the phrase “obsessive thoughts.”  I release myself from “obsessive thoughts.”  But, the longer I worked on it, the more I realized it was more than that, it was the whole motion picture I was developing or perhaps even a mini-series.  Wow, I was really good at writing this story.  I found that what I really wanted to accomplish was to stop writing fiction, at least with regard to the issues I was facing when I would return home.  I began writing, “I release myself from imaginary conversations and fully trust in God’s loving care.”  I know I am much better off letting God write the story. 

After several days of writing the affirmation in my morning pages, I began to feel my body relax.  All the tension would seep away.  What else did my new thought call to me?  Mornings of journaling as I watch the mist rise from the hills, joy from the presence of the hummingbird as it flit around my planters and an invitation to share my yoga practice with a friend who’s looking for some calming tools.  As I prepared for the session, I renewed several of my own peace giving practices; daily breathing rituals, guided mediations, gratitude and release sun salutations and regular deep breaths. 

My new affirmation brought peace, contentment and a sated feeling.  This is a perfect moment.  I am blessed and resting in God’s loving care.  As the pastor at St. Bernadette’s in Linville, NC said in his homily, “People, we have it all.  We want for nothing.”  That’s it.  I want for nothing, that is my meditation, at least for this moment and truly, isn’t that all we have?

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