In November I took a workshop. During the course of the two days, I lost things.
I lose and misplace things from time to time, but this was an extravaganza.
On Saturday night, I was back home, getting things out of the car, and I couldn’t find my water bottle. I told myself not to make this a big deal, went into the house, and made it a big deal. By the time I decided to look in the car again, the bottle had turned into a sacred chalice.
I left the house, and my cat, Pangur, ran outside for the first time since she joined me six months ago. This was probably a “I’ll show you you’re not the only one who can leave,” commando action, but I was beginning to feel that the universe was conspiring against me.
It was dark outside, she’s a black cat, and she cleverly dove into the bushes and became invisible. This was definitely a big deal. I’d never find her; she’d get hit by a car; and I’d suffer for the rest of my life. I recovered long enough to go back inside for a bag of treats, which I took outside and rattled. She forgot that she was punishing me and ran back into the house.
The next morning in the workshop room, I found the water bottle on the table where I’d left it. After lunch, though, I couldn’t find my purse. I fled the workshop and went downstairs to the hotel front desk, where no purse had been turned in. This was a BIG deal. Not only was my life over, but I wouldn’t even be able to drive home.
I went back upstairs, looked on the floor, and then for no particular reason, looked up at the coat rack. The purse was sitting on top. Apparently, someone put it there.
Why? I asked myself when the workshop was over. Was I losing my mind?
Yes. During the course of the workshop’s intensive exercises, I’d lost beliefs that were old friends, maybe not the best friends to have, but they’d provided the illusion of security. I was there for the purpose of losing them, so I thought I couldn’t mourn about that. Instead, I transferred my panic to a water bottle, cat, and purse.
I learned an important lesson from this: that the casting away of core beliefs, habits, and other structures I’ve built to keep myself supposedly safe IS A BIG DEAL. If I don’t acknowledge that it can be frightening, I’m going to frighten myself in other ways because the emotions, whether they be fear, grief, or massive insecurity, need to be expressed.
Mindfulness means attentiveness to my emotional state. When I’m tuning into myself, I can take the necessary precautions against the results of inner chaos. I can deliberately notice where the water bottle, the purse, and the cat are. More important, I put myself in training to be aware of my outer world, too. In such a state, each moment matters.
I don’t know if I’ve completely learned the lesson, but I’m sure I’m getting closer.
The workshop, by the way, was called Matrix Reimprinting, and it was pretty great. If you ever take it, though, hang on to your stuff—your physical stuff. Let the rest go, but be sure to wave good-bye.