Our interior world is deeply connected to the outer world,
Contemplation leads to action,
Self-knowledge and awareness leads to a greater sense of world-justice and connectedness.
In this exploration I've been reading Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, written in the sixteenth century. This beautiful book explores a mystical metaphor of the soul as a castle to be entered through prayer and meditation. St. Teresa speaks of seven chambers each representing different stages in the development of the soul. Entering the castle requires persistence, dedication and humility as we move through suffering, detachment, and pain to seek self-knowledge and connection to God.
In the outer rooms of the mansion we are absorbed in "worldly affairs, engulfed in worldly pleasure, and puffed up with worldly honors and ambition". In this space plagued by reptiles, venomous snakes and creepy, crawly creatures. As we strive to throw off these creatures, to move toward self-knowlege, love of God and connection and mutuality with neighbors, we continually battle our own demons.
My pastor Jeff calls these demons, this little voice of doubt: 'The Judge'.
My yoga teacher calls this streaming, spewing tape of insecurity and sabotage: 'The Little Bastard'.
Centuries of people have called this power 'the Devil' or 'Evil' or 'Satan'.
Recent times have brought denial of this power. My generation rejects the notion of a little red creature with horns and a pitch fork luring us toward Hell.
I understand the reservations about this imagery!
However... I don't wan't to discount the reality of this source of brokenness, pain, addiction... evil... that creeps first into our heads, and manifests in our actions, and impacts entire systems of oppression and violence. This power surfaces in big and small ways in our lives, and in political and social structures- today and throughout time.
This morning, when I woke up at 5 am to begin my morning yoga practice, 'the judge', 'the creepy crawlies', 'the little bastard' was alive and well inside my head.
As I looked in the mirror I noticed how especially terrible I looked this morning. As I slipped on my yoga clothes I made a few internal comments about how especially chunky I was feeling.
I made my way to the mat.
As I worked through my practice I could feel the interior dialogue beginning to stream. Fear and insecurity slipped in and I entered the battle- as I often do on the Holy space of my yoga mat.
As I moved through my practice I noticed the struggle. Not yet trapped in it, just noticing.
As I moved into my last pose, sitting on the ground, I reached forward and gently opened my eyes--
As I looked up I noticed I had company on the mat....
A cockroach was crawling from the wood floor of my kitchen onto my yoga mat!
My first reaction was to burst out in laughter. My second was to jump up and grab a paper towel.
I scooped up the little guy (thank God he was little...),
Carried him to the back door, and out to the middle of the yard.
You are not welcome here little cockroach.
You are not welcome here on my yoga mat, or in my kitchen, or in my head.
You are not welcome here in my soul; creeping feelings of doubt, fear, addiction, and ambition- you are not welcome here.
I'm sure we can battle again tomorrow.