A potent new practice for dropping the knife of self-attack emerged when I was teaching in Northern Ireland, when Mary asked for help uncovering the root of depression. Mary recognized waves of self-hatred erupting from within her mind to sabotage any attempt at ego relaxation. I asked who the hateful inner voice reminded her of. Mary responded that it was the voices of her childhood priest, her mother, her schoolteacher, and her abusive ex-husband streaming together. Clearly Mary had been on the receiving end of physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse, as is heartbreakingly common. Courageously, Mary was able to stay present and feel the emotional and energetic impact of this conditioning, recognizing how she had absorbed so much hatred and violence and had become attached to it as “right and normal.” Together, we just met the layers of suffering, being here, doing nothing so that Grace might find us somehow.
I asked her to tell me a difference between the voice of self-hatred and the truth of her heart. I continued offering her that same question for five rounds. Within minutes, Mary’s consciousness palpably began to shift. Tears poured down her cheeks as she said,
“I know that this voice that has held me a prisoner of depression for years is not real. I know my heart, which is full of love and peace and beauty, is real. It is holy. This is me.”
I asked her how she knew this. She floored me by replying,
“Because no one had to teach me this. Despite all these hateful messages of my past, I just know that my heart is uncontaminated. My heart is Love.”
Mary’s suffering and courage birthed one of the most effective tools for dropping the knife I know — I call it a “neutral separation.” In the following inquiry practice, we use discriminating awareness to see the difference between the false guide and the heart’s truth.
INQUIRY – Discriminate the False from the Real
I encourage you to try journaling or meditating into this question for at least ten minutes, or until such time as the knife of judgment drops.
For example: My self-attack is hard and punitive, and my heart is soft and naturally accepting. My self-attack is the voices of the past, and my heart is not bound in time. My self-attack is black and white, and my heart naturally spacious. It does not matter what differences you find. It is more the process of sifting the egoic from the essential that brings liberating Grace alive. Simultaneously, it directs your attention to the truth of your heart. When we contact a layer of the heart deeper than our changing emotions, it is very obvious what is and is not real.