When I started kicking the furniture and throwing a can of diet coke against the wall in that Brooklyn apartment, I knew I was pretty angry, but I had no idea I was out of control.
The walls were spinning and I was not drunk, but anger was totally moving me, and it even felt good. It was sickening.
My then boyfriend of 11 months was not clear that we were through and I thought I was sending a strong message, staging a drama, doing it for good.
But the truth is I was crazy, unconscious, downright dangerous and out of my mind. Why did I act like that? What took over?
To this day I wonder why is it that sometimes I am taken over by this angry monster, pain body, or just insane mad person that wants to kill everything around it, me included of course.
I fear it because once it takes over it wants only one thing: To destruct everything around me, anything good, and in a bad way.
It wants to assure me that I am not worth having a descent conversation, a peaceful way of life, No! It wants blood, and if it is other people’s emotional blood then all the better.
Just the fact that I am talking about it here and that I am aware this energy can possess me is a HUGE WIN.
But I know better not to get too cocky.
I can rationalize where this mad-energy comes from. I grew up in one of the most dysfunctional families of South America. I am not proud of it; it is just the way it is. But then again, who am I to blame anyone?
All members of my family where doing the best they could with what they knew at the time. They were trying. My guess is that perhaps they did not have the gift I’ve been given, which is I can SEE when the monster takes over. I am aware.
Do you see how enormous that is? To realize that sometimes we are just “taken” by this energy, which is pretty universal, and that can strike anyone?
I think a lot about the monster, and I am always in the lookout for tools that can help me curb it when it pops up. These are some of the ones I use:
0. YES WE MUST START AT ZERO
I had to start at zero because if there is no willingness to see, then you are probably not even here reading this post.
It takes a certain type of courage to be open-minded enough to notice that when everything falls apart, the problem MIGHT be within us.
It is not pretty to turn around and notice we had a prominent role in all of our problems. It takes even more courage to notice that sometimes we act crazy. I know it does for me. I don’t like it.
And I will tell you something more, a secret, at the risk of making life a living hell for me….
The monster energy that possesses me, and probably you too sometimes, does NOT like it that we are talking about it.
Because when we are willing to face it, it begins to loose power.
So here we are, in the here and now that ZERO marks, with the willingness to look.
Let’s look then. But at your own risk.
1. DISCOVERING THE MONSTER
I heard a story once of a little girl that kept having nightmares about a monster following her at night, on the street. She was petrified.
A wise psychologist suggested that next time she felt the monster behind her in her sleep, instead of running, to turn around.
To her credit, the little girl took this to heart and on her next nightmare she turned around and looked at the monster straight in the eye.
What happened? Asked the psychologist.
The monster turned into a bubble that could only jump up and down, she said.
That is what happens when we discover it; It‘s rendered a LOT less powerful, even comic.
One night after I went too low in a depression incident I woke up angry. As soon as I got out of bed I was screaming and blaming, I was possessed, and all I saw, with funnel vision, was that everything was a mess and things needed to be destroyed in order to be fixed.
Fixing, controlling and blaming are the marks of an active pain body or monster.
When we are caught in those three (blame control and trying to fix things) it might be too late, we may be already unconscious zombies at the mercy of this archetypal destructive energy.
The only thing we ever have control over, maybe, is our reaction to whatever happens.
On that day when I woke up angry I risked it all. My job was at risk, my marriage was at risk, my health was shaky, my home, my finances were in trouble. Just what the monster ordered.
That is how the pain body wins. That is how it wants it: Small, destroyed, sorry, broken.
It feeds on anger and devastation. It loves it.
For me, discovering that I was possessed was the first step in understanding and looking for solutions.
It was the moment I, myself, turned around, focused my angry yellow eyes on the monster, and said: “Oh, You live in me! I can see you”
Only my monster did not turn into a bubble, maybe not yet. But I’ll tell you one thing, the relationships DEFINITELY changed.
2. THE MOST POWERFUL DEFEATING TOOL AGAINST THE MONSTER
One day I got really angry with my brother. He had done something, which I don’t even remember, something not important really.
Since I thought of myself as an advanced yogi I decided to sit in silence and meditate the anger away instead of talking to him.
Within a minute I saw myself stand up, filled with “you should know that…” and “I better tell him that…” and continued observing the movie of me rushing downstairs to blame attack and tell him off.
Silence is a great tool to calm the nervous system and have access to new intelligence, new insight, BUT…
Let’s face it… Silence NEVER works when the pain body is active.
Silence was NOT the tool I needed then, not when I was in the thrusts of unconscious anger.
NO! I needed something stronger. I needed OTHER PEOPLE.
That is the most powerful tool.
I have two people whom I can email at any time, under whatever circumstances, and run “reality checks” by. I always email them first when I feel the anger creeping in.
They say that hell is other people. I agree. But God is ALSO other people if we are willing to look at it that way.
Having people I can call or email at any time, and who can do the same with me, has provided me with a buffer of time, a different way of seeing things, and at the minimum a temporary halt to the destructive ripples the monster wants to cause.
Feel free to email me if that makes you stop the crazy.
John Medina, author of the wonderful “Brain Rules” says that in evolutionary terms our brains are designed to be on the move constantly.
For tens of thousands of years we were constantly either picking food or running away from predators.
The relatively new paradigm of humans sitting in desks all day long is the most destructive thing for a brain.
It creates conditions for a pain body to arise.
I’ve been doing yoga every day for years, and still I find this is not enough.
So I now ALSO take a daily, long, walk. James is always going: “Wait, give me five more minutes,” as he finishes his writing. I love that he comes with me.
And in this walk I challenge myself and think of tree climbing and berry picking and predators following me. So I climb the overhead for the train station three steps at the time, or two… And I do jumping jacks at the top of the really inclined street.
I give my brain what it needs and what it is used to. What it has expected for hundreds of thousands of years and what may help me keep the monster away.
Hey! Whatever works?
Next time you feel possessed by the energy of the monster go ahead and get out of the frigging house. Stand up from your chair and walk for a mile, even better, run.
Do it. You will see the amazing results on the monster.
It will wither, because it has no evolutionary choice.
4. The Importance Of Work
The biggest friend of the monster is an idle mind. A mind that has nothing to do.
This is why I believe lots of trust fund people go crazy, or the richest in the world have the biggest numbers of suicides.
Because when we are not choosing what to occupy our brain with then our brain is choosing what to do for us.
And it is not always the best choice.
Having something of value to do every day, helping others and making a contribution with work is a blessing not a chore.
Yes some kinds of jobs are awful. But that does not mean we cannot do something meaningful anyways, outside of work, something that enriches us, something we love to do.
Even if it is coming up with ideas of things we would like or bring into our lives, and then writing what some possible next steps would be.
5. Making Offerings And Hoping They Work!
My friend Tina suggested I follow what ancient traditions do.
She said that throughout time wise people have made offerings both to the monstrous energy and to the powerfully creative energies. To the good AND the bad!
I usually chant my mantras and dedicate my practice to the good forces. But it never occurred to me to give something to the negative energies.
And so, using the opportunity of a social gathering I went to and in which alcohol was flowing freely, I decided to grab a glass of pink Champaign and wet my lips with it.
I don’t like alcohol and will never drink, but this was my way of saying, “I am not the picture perfect yogi that never drinks, in fact I am a sinner and I mess up a LOT.”
The offering was just a symbol. It helped me NOT take myself so seriously.
I don’t recommend grabbing a glass of alcohol, but maybe offering, say, food to the ground (as some traditions do), or lighting a candle to a skull or something not so god-looking, are other suggestions I’ve been considering.
The dark forces are very real, and at least they need some acknowledgement.
Not so much for the forces but for what they can do to us if we get too convinced that what our mind says is reality.
6. Why Would Anything Nice EVER Happen?
He has that observational humor of life and has caught on to the fact that all is suffering… The Buddha pointed it out a couple of thousand years ago although he was not nearly as funny.
I’ve come to realize that: “life is suffering” is not just a statement; it is a practice of sorts.
And if I am not feeling awful at least once a day then I am not living, I am hiding.
Take for example today: I wake up and I get an email from so and so, and I don’t like the email. I have to do something I don’t want to do, and I have to because the rest of my professional life is pretty much dependent on me doing the stuff I said I wanted to do.
So I do it, but I feel that underlying anger, not full blown, just underlying discomfort… a time bomb that could explode OR be managed…
Good! I think. That is GREAT!
It means I am fulfilling my quota of shit-ness for the day, because if there is no
“grrrrr” feeling then I am either having “one of those rare days” OR, I am totally isolating from other human beings.
And isolation is the mother of addiction and perdition.
When we isolate we can easily convince ourselves we can do it all alone. But we can’t.
There is that story of the gods giving us arms that do not bend and are too long, so we cannot feed ourselves. BUT we can feed each other, easily.
The whole point is that yes, hell is other people, but, God is also other people.
When the people we surround ourselves with can give us a reality check, a different point of view, or just a buffer for our anger to get out without emotionally killing those we care for, then they are like GOD.
Because they hear us.