May 31, 2013

Loonies, Loopies & the Weather: an Extended Metaphor. ~ Manasi Saxena

Anxiety and the Fullness of Detached Attachment.

Not all loopies are loonies. Not all loonies are loopies—but for the most part: looniness is connected to loopiness.

Loops are those destructive cycles of suffering that claim most of us fairly often. In the realm of psychological labels, perhaps these would fall under the general head of anxiety.

If you are like me, they probably attack you whenever there is a decision to be made.

For example, say I have to make a decision between bunnies and kittens. This would be my loopy thought process:

“If I pick bunnies, the kittens would be hurt and upset and angry, and they will misunderstand my intentions and hate me forever and OMG… because I am picking the thing I actually want, I am being selfish and therefore even the bunnies will hate me eventually and what kind of person am I that I don’t allow the bunnies the space of their own? (half-breath) So instead, maybe I should pick the kittens—but oh no, wait, what will the bunnies think and maybe the kittens don’t want me anyway because I picked them second. But if I pick the bunnies the kittens will be hurt and upset and angry…” and so on.

On a special day, this loop would include: “…and shouldn’t I be more careful about my choices and why do I not stick with my instincts but if I stay the bunnies will hate me and if I go the kittens will hate me and I’m just a big mess. No one loves me, no kittens, no bunnies, and I am some sort of particularly useless version of goo that can’t accomplish anything—kittens, bunnies, decisions, life: I fail.”

Of course, usually we are not choosing between kittens and bunnies. We are choosing between small, basic things like to stay or to go, to speak or to stay silent, to take the left turn or the right turn.

These are loops that people with a propensity to be anxious generally experience. Every decision is threatening and every thought (in that space of threat) causes a fight-or-flight response. And in this space of threat and fear, the loops and great alarm, the self is completely swept aside the flood.

In my mind, it has been raining for a long time.

More and more (as I work on myself) I find that the labels and the medicines are really a very effective way to cut one off from one’s own self. Medication works to cover the loops up. In crazy pouring rain, medication is like a plastic sheet that allows you to stand still for a little while—but also grows more stagnant, more suffocating.

As the haze of my medication cleared up last year, I found that writing came back and thoughts became clearer. I also found that the loops came back as well. With different forms of support, I could see the loops—though I was not sure what to do with them. Without my plastic sheet, I was standing in the eye of a hurricane-like storm; a vortex of destruction.

And so I stood still. For in every direction there was danger and every thing was painful.  And I kept standing—horrified—for a very long time.

One day, in pouring rain, I went to see a monk.

Some days are special. Sometimes (as we all probably know) life becomes this messy puddle. Support systems fall apart and when they come back together, we rip them apart further out of rage and hurt. The journey towards one’s most compassionate self stops and we proceed further down the rabbit hole by feeling profoundly guilty about it. Then, when we’re on our way to do something about atfix it forever, it starts to pour and we get splashed with filthy gutter water. Things suck. This was that kind of day.

Some days are special for other reasons: magical reasons. Aha! reasons. Reasons that are moments that become like small (yet hugely warm) single rays of sunshine stretching out into the overcast grim spaces of your mind. This was also that kind of day.

On this day, I only spoke to the monk for a little while. And he said something rather magical.

He said: “This is only the weather right now in the sky of your mind.”

It took me months to realize what this means. In some of our practices, we focus on the sum of our parts. In others we look at different parts together. It is rare to find a practice that can accommodate the greater I [the self] that is not just the sum of its parts; for that self can shatter of course and be fragmented. Some practices want us to rise above and be higher than the pain and the sorrow that is so earthly and base. Others want us to be empty. There are very few practices that marry the self and the weather. 

This was not even a practice: it was only a sentence.

The loops, the fear and the anger: this is only the weather right now in the sky of my mind.

The best part about this (other than that all weather is temporary) is that the weather is also not the self. You may in fact be composed of the weather and the weather exists within you—but you are more than the weather. You are the weather, the sky, the trees, the sun and the moon—the houses beneath and everything around. You are both your mind and more than your mind. In the ideal ideal state, this means that we no longer become loopy at times: we now witness our loopiness. We may be drenched in the rain, but we are not the rain or the puddle or the mess.

We are holding our parts and so we are not empty, but full.

And yet, we are more than our parts.

On some days, we know that we are larger. That the self is big and encompassing and connected (even if we have spent many years not being observing).

When we know that we can observe and witness—we are dancing in the rain instead of cowering from it.


Manasi  Saxena is a student of history and of life, who has recently stood at the very edge of a cliff and realized there is nothing more awesome than being vulnerable, nothing more brave than accepting it and nothing more valuable than sharing, growing, receiving and being authentic. She is part of a story-telling organization in New Delhi called Darwesh which explores the Self through history, stories and healing practices. She loves puppies, stories about long journeys, people, traveling, art, cooking and warm cuddly hugs.

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Assistant Ed: Dusty Ranft/Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Picture: tumblr.com via Mo Riza on Pinterest}



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