Swirling around in my head this last week has been dizzying dance between the chattering voice of Criticism and the soothing song of Self-Love. At one time in my life, I might have included a committee of moderators on my dance floor judging Criticism’s every move. That can be a vicious circle, criticizing the self for criticizing the self.
But more recently, I have learned to face Criticism with a balm which I find effective in many of life’s adventures….Self-Love. I allow myself to find humor in the fact that I can get stuck on thoughts that might be less than loving. I say…ah, look at me playing with that judging habit again. In that way Self-Love might be dancing with Criticism, but instead of cutting the rug in a mosh-pit of faultfinding, I invite the Heart to gently and graciously take the lead.
With this week’s Wellness Art-ivity focusing on having a curiosity about this interaction, I found the theme coming up in a number of ways, but felt frustrated that none felt new or energizing. The most powerful interplay came last night in the form of a dream. At first, I blew it off as just another story my mind toyed with as I slept. But after turning it over for most of the day, I am beginning understand it’s meaning for my life.
The dream began with me traveling. I don’t know exactly where I was going…but I was on a trip. My body was my vehicle. I moved down a highway, and eventually came to an area where it ran through a swamp. Dark, shadows peered out of the watery land, a scattering of alligators. I felt vulnerable…yet intrigued. My mind drifted, and as I came into the dream state again, I realized I was underwater. An alligator lurked nearby. A voice narrated directions for how to interact with this ancient creature. It encouraged me to pay attention to my breath. My arms reached in an arch behind my back to open my chest area from greater inhalation. As I took this posture, the alligator began to slowly swim between my arms and back. It moved through the opening completely unaware of me, yet I was hyper-aware of its presence. I followed the directions given by the narrator. I slowed my breath and exhaled in a controlled, steady fashion. My mind focused completely on the animal, connecting with it so that I could match its cadence and mirror its energy. This was my single focus, to move with it in such a way that I became a part of it. As the tail of the animal finally exited from between my arms and back, I arose from the water and continued my journey. I no longer feared this potentially dangerous creature, instead, I respected and revered it.
I think my relationship with self-judgement is a lot like the dance with the alligator. There is a watery place where I can be eaten alive by those chatter thoughts. But by quieting myself and having compassion for this shadowy part of myself, I can learn to embrace what is beautiful and valuable about it.
I believe there is much to learn from this dream of mine, and I am looking forward to looking at it more closely. I am also looking forward to exploring the lore and symbolism of my dream time visitor.