Monday, June 25, 2007

Sacred Snakes & Lizard Brain or What Helps You Hope?

I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.
- Linda Ellerbee
I was doing a bit of research on why it is that we seem to remember the bad things in our lives better than we remember the good stuff, and discovering in the process that older people actually do a better job of regulating positive emotions and memories, which greatly aids their mental health. So, there is some hope for achieving my goal of a Pagan version of the Buddha mind. More on that another time.

Anyway, I'm out there surfing, trying to avoid the litter as best I can, and I find Alecto's Blog. She may well be be one of the most emotionally honest bloggers I've encountered and she writes like a gonzo dream. (Please let her be kidding about the squirrels).

Here is an excerpt from her post titled Attack of the Lizard Brain:

My old brain, that ancient lizard thing sitting silent on its rock, tongue flicking out to taste the air, claws scrapping slowly across damp granite as movement is slow and deliberate right up until it's not and then that beast moves like lightening and I am left damp and quivering, wondering what the devil just happened...

My old brain is convinced that if someone I consider an authority figure (and apparently that might be anybody with a halfway righteous tone of writing or voice) tells me that something is so, why then it is. And that I, the small field mouse standing exposed shaking her little mousey fist into the sky as the chicken hawk swoops in for the crunchings, am completely and perpetually wrong and bad and most assuredly going to be punished within an inch of my life or for sure my life and my deepest fear is that I will go down sniveling like some beaten thing left out soggy and fitful in the rain.

So. It's feedback. That's all. They are only words and thoughts and feelings and I do not have to choose from those places. And I note that sometimes in the talking or writing or acknowledging that the palpitations begin to subside.


This is the line I love: They are only words and thoughts and feelings and I do not have to choose from those places.

That's our place of empowerment, knowing we have a choice. Acting, not reacting. Doing more than just surviving. This requires perspective. As an old teacher of mine put it, We must realize that things are not the way there are, things are the way we are.

and if you don't believe me, go and see A Mighty Heart.

Hope; practical, real, solid hope, even in the worst of times, is the topic of discussion for the Spiral Steps on-line meeting this week. Here is the topic intro (1):

It's easy to focus on what's bad. That is how our lizard brain works. And that is also how the evening news gets our attention. If it bleeds, it leads. And now for a word from our sponsor....

Some of the people who promote this world view just want to sell us stuff. Some of them want us to live in fear, because it's much more easy to control us that way. But that's not how the world really is. And we can't live happily or usefully in fear - our power lies in hope.

Every day, people do things that are kind, useful and good. If we look for that, we will see it. And maybe it will inspire us.

I'm not suggesting a Pollyannaish approach to life. I'm suggesting we use our recovery practice to secure a realistic sense of perspective. So, in that vein:

What helps us feel hopeful?

On a personal level?
On a family level?
On a community level?
On a global level?
On a spiritual or philosophical level?
Or, in some other way that feeds our precious spirit and reminds us that life is full of possibilities.


Notice the very Pagan snake at the top of this post. The snake has been associated with the Goddess from earliest times. In my tradition, Snake stands for wisdom, transmutation, creation, and rebirth. And snakes eat lizards for breakfast.

As Linda Ellerbee says, everywhere in the world that you see terrible things happening, you also see good people trying to help.

Here's to hope, and the power behind it.


(1) The topic note is posted with permission. The posts are, of course, private, annonymous and only open to members of that support group.

Art: Snaked from Wren Walker over at Wren's Nest. Artist unknown

1 comment:

Heather Jefferies said...

I'm kidding about the squirrels, you had to be there.