When my architect friend heard that I had left all the preliminary sketches of my intricate verbal/visual-spatial Mandala Model 2.0 on an interstate bus, her immediate reaction was, “Oh, crap.” (See Linked-In or Facebook or email email@example.com for the essay “Mandala Vision.”) Mine was even stronger: “Oh, ____!”
All those hours of work over the course of a week– drawing a multi-octagonal structure with its interconnected web of triangles, choosing and precisely positioning psychological concepts related to creativity and intimacy – down the brain drain. How would I ever recreate my final draft, especially with different iterations hiding in the subterranean shadows adding to the confusion? I wasn’t just frustrated; I was feeling helpless, experiencing a real sense of loss.
The Function of Funk or The Funk in Funktion
Not unlike when I inadvertently delete an important document that hasn’t been properly saved. This happens frequently enough, you’d think I’d be inured to the “disaster.” But no, each time there is that stab of panic – what will I do now? And then gloom begins to descend. Alas, I must allow myself to be in a funk, if I’m eventually to find the key that reopens the trunk. I try to remember the Stress Doc aphorism:
There’s a real difference between “feeling sorry for yourself” and “feeling your sorrow.” When you are feeling sorry for yourself you often or mostly blame others. When feeling your sorrow, you have the courage to face your pain and self-blame. Alas, there are times when we all need to face, even more, embrace our sorrow. And that choice to be courageous, to lick my wounds, to accept my human flaws and foibles, helps me turn the corner, helps me come out from under the cover.
The Power of External Loss and Inside-Out Living and Wilding
In fact, having allowed myself to grieve, I’m beginning to see a glimmer at the end of the mind tunnel. As French-Algerian writer/philosopher, Albert Camus, noted: Once we have accepted the fact of loss we understand that the loved one obstructed a whole corner of the possible, pure now as a sky washed by rain. In fact, I’m not just seeing light but, wait, a different light source! Can one really go from dark to light to enlightenment??? I suspect it’s often a well-trod, persistent yet, ironically, pedestrian path that leads to surprise and discovery. As acclaimed 18th c. French author, Gustave Flaubert, observed: Live your life like a bourgeois…so your heart and mind can run wild!
Learning Tips, Tools and Techniques
So, what have I specifically learned about breaking through the brain fog-clog? Let me count three ways:
1. Good Grief. Going through a grief process (with or without actual tears), is like “braino” for unclogging or jump-starting a seemingly jammed or inert mind. Grief turns frustration into “thrustration” – when you’re torn between thrusting ahead with direct action and frustration…you don’t know if you can retrieve let alone reassemble the puzzle pieces. However, this mental/emotional tension primes your subconscious mind.
2. Staying with and Breaking Away. If you stay with the rumbling and gurgling, both listening to the inner whisperings and occasionally breaking away, taking a walk, a nap, briefly playing a video game, etc. – taking an incubation vacation – so that you can continue to let the braino work. Bringing fresh eyes and mind turns a poignant problem into a pregnant one. Now…you just might recognize, if not hatch, a new perspective. Purposeful tension helps percolate ideas and images from the recesses of your psyche. As I recently penned: Laser angst focuses the mind…carving new images on the horizon!
3. From Letting Go to Letting Flow. It doesn’t mean you will suddenly have this mind-shattering, Aha! But you start feeling less despairing and more determined; even beginning to show a touch of daring. Hey, I can rebuild and maybe even generate some new connections, new possibilities. That “one right way” is being exposed as an impostor. Now flow is what you know! And a richer and wiser Mandala 2.0 is the outcome. Like I said: When the Worst that Could Happen Is Actually the Best Thing! Amen and women to that!