Sunday, June 3, 2012

Meeting 'The Dictator' Within

In college, I return to my dorm room, only to find my backpack missing. An FBI investigation shows the crime has been committed by some men from Wadiya, 'The Dictator's country. I am at a loss and in a state of panic. What to do without my identity papers, my glasses, my money? 

I greatly respect the wisdom of dreams. In this case, it was not hard putting together the story in the dream and the inner climate I found during sitting this morning. Body in a state of assault, mind scattered, heart shut off, anxiety, just like in the dream . . . A general feeling of disconnection, and of being lost. Thoughts racing about the many projects awaiting, the itch to leave my seat and get busy, and much stress from violence done to myself. Meeting the dictator within, the tyranny of extreme busy-ness that was robbing me from the ability to see clearly and to be myself. 

Making daily call to my mother earlier, I played the part of dutiful daughter but I could tell I was not being fully present for her. Mind was elsewhere already thinking ahead, and messed up heart had other interests. A lot went on during those few minutes with my mother, and her usual enthusiasm at hearing me was not there. I hung up feeling empty, a fraud . . . 

Today will be a time for making peace with 'The Dictator'. Noticing its effects, not giving into the compulsion to do too much, taking the time to just be, and devising a strategy for effectively doing my work without getting taken over by the driven-ness. I shall make a list, and decide on priorities, and take on one thing at a time, without rushing. Work as meditation, engaged in state of concentration.

Do you ever encounter 'The Dictator'? How do you know? How do you respond?


  1. Marguerite, Im glad you like Sacha Baron Cohen.He used to have a hilarious TV show here in England before going to the USA.
    With regard to your blog : It seems to be part of my natural personality not to take life too seriously. What will be will be etc....Perhaps this attitude is part of the answer for people who feel the need to rush around trying to do good deeds. Of course Im not saying this impulse is wrong but in my experiance all this desire to do good often only makes matters worse.Maybe its best just to concentrate on simply being a kind person. Life being what it is this is quite hard enough!!

  2. Yes yes and yes, almost every morning without exception, the fight goes on. I want to sit but the moment that statement appears.... excuses follow. You name it, I'll just get a cuppa, check the time, should grab a shower and so on, unless! Unless I get up extra early. Then there is a palpable sense that time isn't running yet. That this is bonus time, mainly because no one else is up yet. Whatever the reason I'd say that monasteries have been onto this for a long time and hence the 4am rise and sit routine.

    So I have been intending to getup early for a while but not very successfully yet. It will happen tho, soon. Best wishes for your practices.


  3. Michael, thank you for your kind, thoughtful input, as usual.

    I don't think it is so much the amount of good deeds that is the problem, but rather one's attitude towards it. I know of quite a few mindfulness teachers with many commitments who are able to go about their days without feeling stressed. Being present for the thing right under our nose, that's all. And not clinging to the busy-ness.

    I am with you regarding not taking one's seriously. In the end we all end up a rotting corpse . . . I am most motivated by the suffering I see around me.

  4. Miro, good to meet you again here! and thanks for sharing what I would bet a pretty universal struggle for lay meditators like us.

    What is it, that resistance to sitting? It is as if we do not want to encounter ourselves . . .

    I find my Twitter #wannasit dates work very well. So does sitting with my husband at home. And also the sitting first thing. No cup of coffee, no excuse before time really runs out, and I am due for a work appointment!

    A great topic for reflection! Thank you so much for bringing it up.

    I wish you best in your practice also. Starting with tomorrow morning. Will you sit first thing?

  5. One's mind sole purpose is to further the reign with thoughts, desires and fears. Try looking from the one who knows without stories and experiences...hint the place where you rest when you are in the "zone" while painting or some other favorite activity. It is where time does not enter the picture and even hunger is postponed.

  6. For me, the Dictator shows up more often when I skip my morning meditation. Oddly, those are the days when my schedule is NOT filled with appointments--which, as a side note, doesn't mean I don't have many things to do. I end up wandering aimlessly, literally, and figuratively, on the Internet, which creates as much stress as if I'd had back-to-back meetings all day. Obviously, recriminations don't help; the only remedy is to "start again."

  7. Was Once, interesting your reference to the "zone", or what is most commonly referred to as the flow experience. Having had many such moments of total absorption, usually while engaged in a creative process, and comparing those to my experiences of mindfulness practice, I see the two as two different things. While the former one is a form of concentration practice, it lacks the opportunity for insight and wisdom that comes from mindfulness practice.

  8. Clara, I agree with you, one is more at risk of succumbing to the Dictator in the absence of the protection from practice. I also appreciate your insight regarding the danger of unstructured time. It is not by chance that monasteries are usually so structured. Give the mind free reign, and it will take all it can to run wild . . .