It’s been a little while since I have written because we have been on quite a long vacation in the United States – California, specifically San Francisco. It was a great time and an epic adventure and we went with a friend – and let me tell you; could it ever have been proven to be a huge mistake.
There was one particular incident, and I wont go into the details of it, because it actually doesn’t matter, that really triggered me – it is important to note here that this was in the midst of a very alcohol heavy evening… needless to say the immediate response was not some of my finest work!
Well, I woke up early the next morning and took myself on a hike through Golden Gate Park, encompassing a rather spectral view of the Murphy Windmill (poetic because my surname is Murphy) standing strong, black and majestic against the pre-dawn California sky then I hiked for around 4 miles to the Golden Gate Bridge and I purposefully forced myself to really look at what had happened the previous night… a kind of walking meditation.
It really got me thinking about why it had triggered me so strongly and I realised that it was good old-fashioned insecurity and feelings of inferiority. As humans we often compare and contrast; it’s a really frail social construct that has somehow become the foundation of our lives – probably goes a long way top explain a lot of the problems in society today!
I found a spot at Lands End right on the coast and sat, rather precariously, on a viewing platform with half of the wall missing – below me I could see the remains of two shipwrecks as the tide was still coming in and was gently swelling with the rising sun and I used a simple meditation technique of deep breathing combined with imaging my brain to be a kind of old-fashioned slide show, letting each thought come front and centre so that I could look at it head on and give it some recognition and move on to the next ‘slide’.
In addition to this, in recent months I have added a new element to my meditation, I have two inner beings that I attribute my negative thoughts to. The bringer of my antagonistic thoughts of inferiority or judgement come from Linda and my downright destructive thoughts come from Brenda – so if I find myself being worried about my weight, or the size of my biceps, I tell Linda to be quiet and that she has no power. Then when a thought comes to the centre that is horrible, anything that tells me I can’t do something or that I’m not good enough; these thoughts come from Brenda and I unceremoniously tell her to FUCK OFF.
Naming the harbingers of these thoughts allows me to remove the element in my mind where I feel like I am battling an inner demon that is another version of me… Brenda and Linda give me a really clear way of looking at my feelings, thoughts and reactions to help me to understand myself.
As I sat there on this precarious ledge above the ocean, I watched the sky go a dusty pink with electric flashes of cobalt blue whilst the swelling waves enveloped those long abandoned wrecked ships I realised that, actually, I have a choice as to how I handled this situation with my friend – this was the perfect opportunity for me to really challenge myself. So I got up and hiked the 4 miles back to the apartment.
Of course when I got back it was super awkward, the air was electric and heavy at the same time, it really made me think of the pregnant air in India right before a monsoon I had experienced years before. So, with a nod to those powerful cleansing storms my greeting was “Right, so shall we get rid of this awkwardness?”…
The breath that Jose exhaled was so powerful that it mirrored my own thoughts of that Indian Monsoon perfectly, he later told me that he was expecting me to come in all guns blazing and absolutely tear our friend apart. My next question was, “SO what you said last night was the worst thing that anyone could ever say to me, because you touched a spot that only most closest confidants would know existed. Are you harbouring something that we need to discuss, some deep resentment or dislike?”
He said that he didn’t and because I had spent my time having a chat with Brenda and Linda and I had been able to realise in my mind that I don’t have to win an argument or make a point of the situation, I immediately said, “Okay, so lets draw a line under it and move on, but don’t ever do that again.”
Now I know that all seems very anti-climatic but I cannot stress enough that this inner dialogue is so important, we spend so long being worried about perceptions, stigma, expectations and this dreaded compare and contrast ideology that has acceded to the highest level of social behaviours. Each of us is responsible for our reactions in any given situation and I know for a fact that a few months ago my reaction to the situation I have talked about would have been VERY different with not having that strong inner dialogue with Brenda and Linda.
We went on to have an incredible holiday in San Francisco, where I would highly recommend travelling to by the way and if you’re interested you can find some photos on my Instagram which is linked on this page!