Yesterday I talked about the process of “Feeding your Demons” and it seems like people are really interested in this, so today I’ll walk you through the exercise.
First, I should define these “Demons” because it sounds very serious and scary – but really, it’s just the shadow parts of ourselves. Stress, irritation, impatience, shame, hopelessness, loneliness – this are all part of the human existence and I’m not saying that there’s a “Cure” for these because all of these have a purpose. Just like pain in your physical body, they’re there to draw your attention to something – we just have to learn how to listen and understand what they’re pointing at.
Say, if you find you’re having a problem with being jealous all the time of other people – there could be a part of you that feels like you’re not giving it the attention it needs and projects this feeling onto other people. If you’re finding yourself turning to alcohol or substance abuse of any kind, chances are there’s a part of you that wants to feel comforted and is craving relief.
Before I begin, I want to caution you about this exercise.
It’s possible that when thinking about whatever it is you’d like to confront, you may start to feel really anxious or sad or angry – if you find yourself becoming too emotional, take a break! Walk around and focus on your breath. This isn’t something that should be rushed or approached with a “Get it done” type of an attitude. This is just one part of the process of healing.
Another note of caution is, make sure you’re really wanting to move forward in whatever area it is. This opens your eyes to parts of yourself that you honestly do Not want to see and can be a very humbling process. Prepare yourself to have a cushion of acceptance to fall back on so that you’ll be able to accept and hold that part of yourself.
Start with something small.
If you’re an alcoholic or had a severe trauma – do NOT start with those things!!! Start with an every day thing that you feel just lowers your quality of life, that frustrates you every day. Narrowing this down alone could take a bit of reflection and introspection – but I encourage you to put the time in and maybe make a list of things you’d like to investigate. The more effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.
In the book( Feeding your Demons), Pema Chodron describes the exercise of sitting down on the floor and “facing” your demon. This is all really symbolic of course and you have to really get in touch with the child in you that used to play pretend. So you sit down, on the floor or in a chair. Then you put a pillow or a chair in front of you so you’re facing it. You start by focusing on your breath and closing your eyes. Then whatever it is you want to face, whether it’s fear, impatience, anxiety, depression, whatever it is that’s causing you the most stress, think about it in your head and start trying to visualize it. What color is it? What form would it take? Is it an animal? What does it smell like? Try to involve as many senses as you can. When you get a clear image in your head of this, invite it to sit in front of you. Take a moment for breathing and really feeling what it feels to be in that ‘worst’ part of you. Then, when you’re ready, you can start asking it questions.
- What do you want from me?
- What do you need from me?
- How will you feel once you get what you need?
Be silent and calm breathing in to it. It may take a minute or two to ‘hear back’ from it. It helped me to have a notebook so I could write out what I was feeling it say, whatever works for you!
Then respond by “feeding” it in a very descriptive way. You can make it in whatever form you like, but make it very visual. If it’s wanting comfort – making something warm and thick like honey for example.
Once you’ve “fed” your demon, calmly wait for it to be satisfied. Breathe into it and just sit with that feeling of being satisfied and fulfilled.
If you wait a bit longer after the demon has been fed – sometimes it will get up and leave (in the case of oppression or trauma you’ve held on to), or it will transform into an ally (such is the case with “double sided” emotions like Excitement and Nervousness). It could take several sitting down sessions feeding your demon before your ally shows itself.
When your Ally appears, breathe into it and ask it these 3 questions (or more if you feel inclined):
- How will you help me?
- What pledge do you make to me?
- How can I gain access to you?
Here’s an example of this process in my own notebook. If you want to get a special notebook to document your discoveries, insights, and milestones, I would HIGHLY encourage that!
Sometimes it helps to see how far we’ve come with ourselves to appreciate where we are.