Book Tuesday: Feeding Your Demons

When we remodeled, we created a small room intended to be a guest bedroom. We had planned to put in a trundle bed. However, when we rerouted our heating system, we had to place the door in a different spot, making it impractical for a bedroom. Yes, if we need to, we can put in a cot of some kind, but for now we have made it a reading room, with two comfortable chairs and a lamp table in between.

Today I stopped joking and used the room for that purpose.

I’ve written before about how I work with fear, depression, and anger — I prefer to “dance” with them, or “invite them to tea.” However, lately that’s been easier said than done. A recent interpersonal conflict has disrupted my work, and I’ve held so much tension in my jaw that I broke one crown and dislocated another tooth (yes, I’m getting a mouth guard). It’s been a painful experience in the midst of an otherwise idyllic life. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything more about it than that. Let me just say that some people have WAY too much time on their hands.

I’ve taken appropriate action on a practical level, but I’m more concerned with what’s going on inside of me. How can I dance with this? How can I take this situation to tea? I can’t change the actions of others. I can, though, change my response. I can find inner peace. This time, though, I need a little extra help!

Enter Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict by Tsultrim Allione, which provides a five-step meditation technique known as Chod.

Allione is a former Buddhist nun who runs a retreat center in Colorado. Like me, her life was cracked open, and its trajectory radically altered, after the death of a child. Like me, it took her three marriages to find her true partner. Reading her words, I find the wisdom of someone who has “been there and done that,” who understands my inner challenges.

I went into my reading room and, iPad next to me, went through the five steps. Even with having to look at the instructions, I still had a profound experience. Here’s a summary:

  1. After breathing in the method prescribed in the book, I examined the “demon” I wanted to work on. I chose Fear, a dominating force in my life. In the conflict I mentioned, which has escalated, my greatest fear is of having my actions misunderstood and misinterpreted, then communicated to others.
  2. I “personified” the demon, which appeared to me as a fragile glass/ice man. He was translucent, pale blue, and afraid to move — much like people whose bones break easily.
  3. Asking the demon a series of questions, I discovered its need for protection and strength. He expressed a sense of separation from me.
  4. I imagined myself “feeding” the demon, which came in the form of rosy energy coming from my heart. As I did so, he transformed into a handsome, vibrant young man with clear blue eyes and porcelain skin. I asked and confirmed that he was my ally.
  5. Then I asked the ally a series of questions about how he would help and support me. He offered to alert me when something was wrong, but also to provide the strength of healthy “male” energy. He said that all I needed to do to access him was to look into his eyes.
  6. Next, I sat in stillness for a few minutes to integrate the experience.
While I don’t know yet how this meditation will help me vis a vis my current dilemma, I did feel stronger and more grounded after the meditation ended. At any rate, I think this method can be profoundly effective.
Allione also notes how we can use journaling, artwork, and partners to facilitate the process. Feeding Your Demons provides not only detailed instructions to the method (much more than I’ve outlined here), but also a series of examples of how it works in peoples’ lives. If you’re looking for a useful technique for releasing stress and emotional pain, I highly recommend this book.

 

 

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