It’s been difficult to accept that I’m often a battleground for several sides of myself, which seem to act in opposition to one another. Is there any solution to feeling so divided? Krishnamurti said, “ In division there is insecurity, in war there is uncertainty. But when the mind sees the danger of division very clearly – not intellectually, not emotionally, but actually sees it – then there is a totally different kind of action.” That new action lies at a level above the yes- and-no level on which we live, and a new attitude can help us find the way to it. The Jungian concept so often mentioned by Marion Woodman suggests we can approach it by “holding the tension of the opposites.” If we can resist the magnetic attraction of one side of any situation long enough to acknowledge both sides, however painful that may be, we rise above division, rather than imprisoning ourselves in it.
The other day I woke up feeling tired and semi-depressed. A slight headache accompanied me through the morning as I went about my duties. At about noon, I suddenly remembered I had made the commitment the night before to go to the park right after breakfast. “No time,” I thought, “and besides, I don’t feel like it.” How many times have I heard myself say that before! But in spite of my resistance, just before lunch I gave up writing and, grumbling that a Tylenol would probably serve me better, I plodded to the park, promising myself that it would be a quickie of a walk.
Once out the door, to my surprise, I felt better right away, and by the time I reached the park my headache had disappeared. Soon I was sitting on a bench in the springtime cool, surrounded by trees, bathed in sun and bird song. I heard a kind of singing in my soul. Amazed at the change, I asked myself: Why was it so hard to get here? Who in me thought it was more important to feel depressed or spend hours writing at my computer? What in me opposes what another part of me obviously wants and needs? Are the interests of my head demanding control over my heart and body? …
The next time I resisted a walk in the park I began to dialogue with this “stuck-in-the-mud” part of me. “Why such obstinate refusal? What’s the problem?” I asked myself. An inner voice responded with a sigh, “Is it really worth it?” “Worth what?” I queried. Then, from deep in another part of my inner landscape a new voice interrupted this plaintive exchange, exclaiming, “Worth all the time it takes!”
Somebody besides the writer and problem-solver in me needs my time and isn’t getting enough. That little interior dialog helped me see that with all I tried to accomplish, I was allowing no time for my deeper self, for my own expansion into awareness of the present moment…
This return to presence gives me the opportunity to appreciate what we usually ignore because we’re too busy: the present tense of our life, which provides fresh perceptions of ourselves and the rest of the world. If we refuse it, we are cut off, sadly unaware of what we’ve lost. When we choose to be quiet and listen attentively to our own inner voices, we create space for something else to fill us besides that “know-it-all” ego. But, mired in duties, we don’t always welcome the new possibility. Like the biblical Jacob, we often wrestle with our angels and try to defeat them.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What does allowing time for your deeper self mean to you? How do you relate to the notion of a totally different kind of action emerging from seeing the danger of division very clearly? Can you share a personal story of a time when such an action emerged in your life?