I dreamt last night of standing in a large meadow facing a familiar mountain. Sparrows darted in and out of the tall grass, keeping wild boars at bay.
Sparrows, in dreams, can symbolize innocence, restlessness, and freedom. They can also be related to family life. Wild Boars, can symbolize courage, assertiveness, and confrontation. A suggestion that one is learning to face their fears.
After a recent meditation I felt called to make a note to myself to “not edit my thoughts” and to “stop curating my experience”. In a moment of observing my normal operating I saw how endless editing was scripting the experience I thought was appropriate. Key term here, “thought”..
How can we think our existence or experience? Is it not simply something that is felt?
Where does this internal curator come from? I’ve been getting to know her over the past little while, as I’ve been becoming aware of personal tendancies towards body anxiety and even dysmorphia at times, disordered eating habits, and both a victim of and an observer of the endless stream of health and wellness “advice” on our screens and in our society.
I often wonder if before we all had “experts” at the tip of our fingers we were actually better off? I don’t necessarily mean those in immediate need of care, experiencing chronic life threatening diseases, or those benefitting from medical care. I think more of the vast majority of us that get lost in the array of fads, research, and chatter that tells us what our bad habits are, why we have them and how to break them.
This is me speaking as a professional in that exact industry.
My practice has changed dramatically in the last few years, and I’ve only been in practice for half a decade. When I look back at what I took right out of university and how each year brought the next best thing into my practice, usually for a short time before it became part of a larger melting pot of tools to use with various clients, I am not that surprised that when it comes to my personal wellness there is this curator that sits and edits what an experience should be compared to what it actually is.
I’ve struggled the last year, going through an evolution and what I’ve labelled metamorphosis, in many ways. My perspective on health has changed. My awareness of what should and shouldn’t be simple has changed. I FEEL now how interconnected all our systems are as humans, yet will still catch myself getting frustrated that my body doesn’t respond to what my mind logics.
I do my best to interact with myself as I would a client. With compassion, empathy and above all else patience. Healing, evolution, being human is a cyclical experience. The metaphor of a path or journey no longer quite fits, either. After all, none of us actually know where we are actually moving towards anyway. The pathway metaphor also implies a linear movement pattern, and the human experience is anything but that.
I see clients cycle through a curated experience frequently as well. In fact, it’s how I catch it in myself. They will come in and relay their experience to me using phrases like “I know I shouldn’t think this but..”, “this isn’t how it’s supposed to be”, “I don’t think I should feel this way”, “I know this isn’t right but”.. and the like.
Where is the guideline that says something should be exactly how it is in any moment?
We are taught that pain, discomfort, anything above a certain weight, our true feelings, our judgement, our tiredness, our desires, our addictions, our coping mechanisms, our anger/sadness/grief/envy, our timelines are incorrect. All these things don’t meet a standard that groupthink has set somewhere along the lines, and because of that they’ve been deemed something we must edit and curate.
Our thoughts have lost their permission to be free. Our conscious need to maintain our place in society keeps our subconscious unconscious.
Much of my own healing and awareness has been developed via years of meditation and recent breathwork. Instead of experiencing, I’ve found myself busy trying to curate the experience. Great healing has taken place too. That’s the thing, though. Awareness and healing takes place not always by consciously trying to process or experience. Instead a surrender, gracefully or not, into the ebb and flow is the more potent experience.
Many people I meet resist raw experience because they fear a loss of control, and that if they begin feeling the “bad” they will never feel the “good” again. They resign to a “comfortable” neutral, gray zone out of a resistance to a wave like experience. Emotions at some point weren’t safe. I’ve noticed this within myself. Approaching family gatherings I tend to go numb, recluse, and now in awareness sit in an uncomfortable place of wanting to interact more but being somewhat stuck behind layers of old armor.
It’s a strange place to be. Aware, and in my own process with it- but also working with awareness not to edit or make my experience something that creates comfort for others while sacrificing my own process in return. While I, and we all, work to develop a better relationship with our internal editors (because there is such a thing!) it can create friction in familiar relationships. Any form of personal growth can be repulsive to those closest to us. It threatens their perception of us, of the normal- and that is perceived as unsafe by our unconscious operating systems.
That is one of the top reasons and barriers for those beginning a journey towards lifestyle change. Not only was I taught this in my Applied Health degree program, I have seen this at work with clients and with myself. It’s rarely intentioned this way, but like crabs- humans can be limited by the networks they live within.
I write this not to place blame on the groups we all abide within, nor on ourselves for the curator within. I write to absolve myself and anyone else who needs to read it of the guilt that can come with process. The shame we place on ourselves in moments of frustration, impatience and metamorphosis.
Exactly how things are is how they should be. Precisely what you feel is appropriate. It doesn’t have to make sense, and you don’t have to understand it.