This post takes off from a story of suicide, so if that’s not what you want to read today, then please, don’t. Although the post talks more about the mind and the (dis)ability to shift perspective.
Some weeks ago, the husband of my friend took his own life. He hanged himself in a tree after months of dwelling in and spinning up the catastrophic thoughts about EVERYTHING in his life going to (his version of) hell.
Nothing of it ever happened or were even likely to happen (seen from the outside), but he had firmly attached himself to these thoughts and had no idea of the possibility that everything could be different, in an instant! It would “just” take the experience and the knowing that the mind is a tricky fucker that makes up all sorts of stuff, and many times is of no help at all. That knowing from experience that there’s space between reality, your thoughts, you, your heart. That there is choice in every moment, that you can choose your reactions, that you can choose your mindset.
Ok, for most people it’s not practically a choice because they don’t know, they haven’t got the experience and practice of watching the mind shift, trying other perspectives, knowing that what you think isn’t absolutely true. Not knowing that you can change your entire experience of life and your situation by changing your perspective. It’s instantaneous, the shift.
But I’ve also noticed how easily the mind falls back into its well-known thoughts, and forget about the other perspective(s). For me, it’s a daily practice of yoga, that takes my body-mind out of the well-known perspective and into a realm of possibilities, a little more ease, a little more happiness.
Sometimes there’s a big shift and sometimes the shift is more subtle (and hard to induce), which is the case when my starting point is a state of self-doubt and stress. The gravitation of the body-mind towards negative thoughts is still strong, so it’s easy to get attached to the thoughts. Discipline, daily practice and self-compassion have been my medicine so far.
Yet, I do think, with practice and over time,we can change the baseline, the energy of the body-mind. I’ve noticed these last few months how my normal state is more a state of stable contentment, love, happiness, some kind of light(ness) (it’s difficult to understand and explain, but that’s the closest I get right now). Of course, I still get angry, sad, anxious and all, like: some every day, but there’s still another base level than what I remember from 10-15 years ago when sadness, self-bashing and desperation were more my daily experience. I couldn’t see that so clearly back then, but now, in the light of my experience and the body-mind shift, I see the difference.
I attribute a lot of it to my yoga practice, but other things, like life experience and relationships, may have brought the same kind of shift in me. I don’t know, I just have thoughts about it…
Anyway, this guy who hanged himself, he had a wonderful supporting wife, sweet children, many friends and lots of money. He did get into a very, very challenging situation, when two of his children were taken away from him. I’m not going into details here, but it sure was a shitty situation. And maybe I would have reacted the same way as he did on the same kind of situation, who knows and who am I to judge (I try not to, my mind easily falls into judgment).
But he didn’t see the good, he didn’t seem to see any other possibilities than the worst his mind could come up with. Seems like he lost himself in all the catastrophic thoughts about the future that never happened and wasn’t very likely to happen. Taking his perspective and believing it, I can understand he killed himself.
But it makes me furious! Frustrated! Wondering, what should I have done? Could I have helped him shift his perspective? Maybe, but I guess not. It’s usually a long process to learn the tools and experience the effects, not a quick-fix. That’s where medical doctors, their drugs and methods like ECT (in layman terms “electric shock treatment”) come in. To help out when it’s really serious, to try to save lives. In this case though, medical doctors didn’t work either.
Maybe this was what was supposed to happen, programmed into him. Or, I should have slapped his face and shaken him out of his stubborn perspective.
This event has triggered a lot of energy (thoughts, emotions, movements/tensions) in my body-mind and it still hasn’t settled. Anyway I felt a need to share this, as I find the ability to shift perspective is enormously important, in many situations.
What’s my main point with this post? The usual with my one-track (!?;-) mind:
- Practice yoga
- Have patience and keep practicing
- Observe your body-mind, evaluate, keep looking for perspectives (of yoga or other body-mind practices that work for you)
- In the end: find your own way
Any thoughts on this, another perspective maybe? Feel free to share.
Photo by WeVe1