Sometimes we need to connected to our feelings, to memories in our mind with our perception. How can we do this introspection with ourselves ? How does our mind do the connexion with our memories ?
Memories, perception and imagination
If you’ve ever been to Rome, you have a version of Rome in your head. If you’ve ever put your feet in a stream, you have a representation of a stream in your mind, along with physical sensations. You’ve eaten ice-cream, you have ice-cream in your head – and quite a few flavors at that! You know your house. Even when you’re not home you can evoke it in your mind. Ditto for loved ones, music, movies, books, actions, and just about any place on earth you’ve visited or seen pictures of. Anything at all.
Of course, our recall is far from perfect, but it is through those memories and perceptions that we understand the world.
We also have powerful imaginative processes – if I ask you to picture a pink elephant, you can actually do that, even though no such thing exists. You know what elephants look like, and you know the color pink – put them together, tada! Pink elephant! It wasn’t that hard, was it? Giant ant, swimming spider, your mother with a beard etc etc.
Visualizing the mind
What I find intriguing is that we do not map our inner world at all. Well, not consciously at least. But if you’ve ever dreamed of houses, that house was you! What was it like? Big and roomy? Cramped? Full of people? Out in nature? Or in a big city? Did you feel comfortable there?
I always ended up in labyrinthine catacombs, in my dreams.
Thinking about our minds as a house is a friendly, non-overwhelming way to create a quick map of our metal spaces.
Your friends have their own rooms, some are shared, some aren’t. The friends from work have a special kind of room, whereas the room for childhood friends has lots of sepia pictures on the walls. Each family member has a lease in our minds, whether we like it or not – the room looks like your relationship… Those are the areas you share with people.
If you love reading, you of course have an extensive library in there, or if you love music, it can be a pair of giant headphones, just for you.As you go deeper inside the house, you enter spaces where no one else has ever been.
Creating your own safe space
Of the top of my head, you should definitely have a place in there that is the safest for you in the whole world. It can be a place that exists already, or one you imagine. There are oceans and mountains of imagination, volcanoes of anger, pits despair, swamps of sadness, electrical storms of worry, vales of silliness, picnics of belly laughs.
In all of us are caves of fear, deep underground rivers of anxiety, arid deserts of lovelessness, poisoned cactuses of rejection and betrayals, salt mines of frustration, our Marina trench of loneliness, the outer space of our unconscious, the bower of our perceived inadequacies.
In all of us as well, there lies a place, a room or a garden of love, warmth and joy.
Do you know what all those places look like inside you? Do you feel them sometimes? And by cultivating your awareness of them, the bright and the dark places that are you as intimately as a leaf is of a tree, you can also tend to the ones that need attention.
The dark places often do not want to be disturbed, but they groan in their sleep. There be dragons. A little daily cleaning and dusting can help. And nurturing our places of love is one of the most joyful and useful tasks on this planet. It is a responsibility to ourselves and the world.
Explore. Make a map. Learn which parts of you are cordoned off, which ones grow, which ones are limitless, which ones feed you deeply, which ones can be cleaned, stored or simply put away. You are modular, versatile and flexible. Learning the map of yourself also makes this whole process seem much less daunting. We all have things we don’t like – it’s ok. They’re just a handful of rooms we can decide to visit, ignore – or torch down…
Our mind is our most fascinating tool. Let us learn to use it wisely.