Messages from the dark side
This is going to be a confessional post.
I often find myself having arguments in my head. I argue mostly with my sister, with my ex and with my partner. If there’s nothing to argue about, my mind invents them and go on creating arguments that never took place. It’s not something I want to do but seems like I cannot help it.
These spontaneously surfacing thoughts arae exhausting and frustrating because I know I could be filling this precious mind with more productive thought processes. Negative thinking takes away creativity. It also made me doubt I was a good person in essence. No one nice would think these things!
Fortunately, I have come across yoga philosophy, which has taught me to understand the working of the mind. It taught me to accept my dark side: without the dark you cannot know the light.
The good old principle of opposites taught me that without accepting the uncomfortable, the light risks developing into pretentiousness, even sanctimony. Then, it risks bouncing to the opposite side with equal intensity when the s**t hits the fan.
In practice this means that trying to be happy all the time will bounce you back into the darkness with more intensity than ever in times of trouble. Forcing happiness means also forcing those negative conditionings out.
Negative traits arise in stress and if you have not accepted your darkness as an integral part of your essence, you will easily lose the plot and not be able to handle challenges reasonably.
Yoga taught me about conditioning and how trauma affect us. I had a relatively happy childhood although undermined by lack of affection by my mother. We had horrible fights. I used the worst words and she did not spare time building bridges with me.
That said, those are olden times. We now have a great relationship, and we enjoy each other’s company. We talk kindly and we show affection. It’s been a journey but…. The fact that arguments occur in my mind is probably due to those early life dynamics.
These self-preserving patterns of behaviour inherited from early life, especially, are called negative samskaras or bad conditionings that guide our behaviour under the bonnet in our subconscious. They are those negative thinking patterns that you suddenly notice having without any solicitation. Your mind is living a narrative that happened in the past and recreating it in the most impressive variations.
Yoga taught me about samskaras, however, it also taught me that they can be controlled, if not annihilated all together (I wish… LOL). The steps to stop or quiet them down are:
When you notice your mind going into a patterns, say to yourself: “Aha! There you are darkness, my old friend!”
Have a safe word or a sentence such as a mantra. This should be something that immediately creates a feeling of safety. I have a personal mantra but I also sometimes think about my grandmothers’ bosom and her fragrance.
Comedy is the best arm against evil. Laugh at yourself and the conditioning you’ve recognised. “Hello you, Good Old Darkness… I got ya! I accept you and recognise that without you I would not know the light.”
Accepting our dark side is essential for a balanced life.Accepting the fact that darkness is part of us and serves the purpose of joy in light, in love and compassion. We must, however, learn the tools to deal with it so that it won’t take over our lives.
Still, we are humans, are we err. When we fail in emotional intelligence the samskaras rear their ugly heads and here we are, argumentative again, pitying ourselves, being passive aggressive, lying, cheating, caught in jealousy and envy, getting into trouble, yet again.
Without the technique of recognition, our subconscious will drive our behaviour along the lines of samskaras. It makes us feel like we’re not in control of ourselves. We notice that certain things keep repeating in our lives on and on and on. We end up in the same kind of unwanted situations without understanding why. Self-search is therefore an important part of emotional maturity.
Usually, my arguments remain in my head. I used to be so upset about the time I wasted in imaginary scenarios, until I learned to catch the thought, repeat my mantra and then have a little laugh at myself.
This technique has worked brilliantly, however, those traces have never left me. They surface when I’m tired or had a bad day. Yet, most importantly, I do not get angry at myself anymore (another level up in the scale of frustration) for having these thoughts. I catch them, replace them and laugh at the impressive ability of the mind to create such mischief.
I now embrace my argumentative narratives because they make me grow as a human. Recognition allows me to observe my mind as if it was a film on a screen. I know now that I am conditioned to think like this under certain conditions, but it is not what I am in my most fundamental being.
I can, like most of us can, change how we relate to our samskaras and that is the ultimate choice we have in determining if we are preys of our minds or not.