This is a guest post from Stephen Farah
I am delighted and truly honoured to be hosting Stephen’s first ever guest post.
I once heard a line in the movie A House of Games (1987) which I have never forgotten:
“When you have done something unforgivable, I will tell you exactly what to do. You must forgive yourself.”
This makes sense because to live in blame, be it blame of others or ourselves is just not a way to live. At least not if we want to live a meaningful and fulfilled life.
We also learn that in order to live our lives forward rather than backwards, we need to assimilate everything that has ever happened to us. Be it good or bad.
What do we mean by Assimilation?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines assimilation as:
1. Take in and understand information.
2. Absorb people or ideas into a wider society or culture.
3. Absorb or digest food or nutrients.
This gives us a good starting point in understanding assimilation. However in the sense we use the term here, let’s broaden that definition slightly:
Take in, understand, digest, utilise, collate and make part of oneself, information, experiences, tool/s, technology, education, culture etc. Such that these things no longer remain outside and alien to yourself. They are no longer at arms distance.
Absorb and digest food, nutrients yes, but also medicine, ideas, teaching, toxicity, experiences good and bad, happenings, dreams, intuitions, successes and failures.
I even speculate that the whole of psychology and the myriad of New Age therapies all concern themselves with just one single issue – a lack of assimilation.
Whether this is called hysteria, neurosis, stress, psychosis, a lack of adaptation, it all boils down to a very simple idea:-
The person suffering from the condition has failed to assimilate something.
The goal of the therapy is often to allow that person to assimilate the unassimilated content.
When you or I have failed to assimilate something it stands outside us, frequently over and against us. It is an experience for example which detracts from our ability to be present, to be happy, and to function optimally.
The following short story illustrates this idea quite well:
Two Zen Monks and a Young Lady
As the two Zen Monks walked along a road they came across a young woman wanting to cross a river, but afraid to, for fear of being washed away.
One of the monks lifted the young lady into his arms and carried her over.
As they walked back to their monastery the other monk was silent but clearly distressed. Eventually unable to contain himself any longer he blurted out,
“How could you lay hands on a woman? Have you forgotten your vows of chastity?”
To which the first monk replied,
“Why are you still carrying that young lady? I put her down hours ago?”
What is the young lady you are still carrying on your back?
What is it in your life that you have not assimilated, or not yet come to terms with? And how would your life change of you were assimilate it?
What heights of being are you capable of reaching were you simply to put the young lady down as the monk did in our story?
In our lives, putting down this proverbial young lady frequently requires a consciously directed intention.
Assimilation does not always come naturally – we need to learn to assimilate.
Here are my key 5 steps to conscious assimilation:-
You first need to recognise and acknowledge the young lady is on your back before you can put her down. Become aware.
You need to accept that you did what needed doing, for better or worse. You cannot let go of it whilst you have not accepted that it happened. Forgive yourself.
3. Assimilation (psychic digestion)
You need to metaphorically swallow the event, meaning it has occurred and only by taking this reality onboard can you evolve beyond it. So it is not through denial but rather the acceptance of that you evolve. Swallow.
Once you swallow the reality of what has occurred, where do you put that reality? Where in your personal make up does it belong?
You need to find a home for it – put it in its place.
The process of assimilation must of necessity change something in you.
If it does not, then you have not truly assimilated it. But if something in you changes, then this is adaptation. You have transformed.
Whilst coming to terms with assimilating our lives is not always the easiest thing, it is one of the most worthwhile.
Don’t let energy and attention trapped in your past hold you back from all you can be today and tomorrow.
The act of assimilating is incredibly liberating. Whilst we cling to an event or experience in our past, regardless of whether we perceive it positively or negatively, it drains us. It is like a leak in our psychic funnel.
The moment we truly assimilate the event we are immediately present in our lives again and that energy that was previously being wasted is available to us.
Your future is waiting for you, open your arms to receive it.
Read more inspiring articles about the meaning of life from Stephen Farah at his blog In Pursuit of Meaning.
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