There is an ancient Islamic legend that tells of a king who sewed his peacock's head in a bag so it wouldn't distract anyone from the beauty of its spectacular tail. That misguided bit of stitchery may have satisfied the king's questionable perspective, but it turned out be a real bummer for our fine feathered friend.
Quite predictably, as the years of unbroken darkness passed by, the lovely peacock eventually forgot about the world as it really was and came to believe that all reality was contained within the dark limits of the bag covering its head. It doesn't get any darker than that. It's about as lost as lost can be.
Being stuck in a place that blinds us to the beauty and richness of our earth experience is tragic, but hold on... our peacock's tale of woe gets even bleaker. In addition to losing touch with the glorious play of shapes, color and movement going on around her, the unfortunate peacock completely forgot about her own incredible beauty. No matter where she looked, she saw only cold, empty, darkness. That's bondage with a capital "B."
Certainly not the kind of legend I'd encourage you to dwell on, but, thinking about it for a moment, can you sense a kind of haunting similarity between the peacock's dilemma and how your life seems to be from time to time? Lord knows I can! Though I've never had a king sew a bag over my head, that hasn't rescued me from the foolishness of creating perceptions of my world and my "self" that are chock-full of lonely, scary darkness.
That happens when I stop paying attention to what I'm thinking and get lost in the dark-side chronicles that I mind-weave so well. When I get caught up in that unskillful use of mind I'm just like the king in the legend. I become a mental monarch sewing "bags" of irrational, critical, self-condemning thoughts over my head . . . "thought-bags" that blind me to my own unique beauty and the rich grace of God's grand garden of life.
Whenever we get lost in the darkness of believing the false, distorted thoughts we so often use to describe ourselves and our world with, our feelings about our lives will inevitably become as dark as the peacock's. And, if we stay trapped in that way of thinking and feeling long enough, just like the peacock, we too will find ourselves lost in the tragic bondage of forgetting just how beautiful we truly are. And what then . . .?
WAKE UP! Bite the mindfulness bullet and begin noticing the absurdity of the self-demeaning dialogues we buy into. We are not made in the image and likeness of an object worthy of scorn or ridicule or shame. Let us be faithful in remembering to honor our origin! Let us never forget the immaculate nature of the pedigree we spring from! Let us take the bag of deception off our heads and affirm . . .
I AM A BELOVED CHILD OF FATHER/MOTHER GOD CREATED IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF DIVINE PERFECTION!
Now, let us agree to pin that ultimate reality on our respective foreheads and work with it 'til we've got it down so right and so tight we'll never again hypnotize ourselves into believing we are anything but delightful, lovable expressions of Holy Spirit! If that comes hard for you . . . if you've forgotten you are a beloved child and in the forgetting embraced the dark notion that life is the "pits". . . STOP FOR A MOMENT, RIGHT NOW, LISTEN UP AND PRACTICE !
Sit . . . head erect . . . back straight . . . hands and feet comfortable and relaxed.
Now take a dozen deep breaths and as you do so begin to focus all your attention on the sensation of breathing.
Just be there, watching, sensing, as the rising breath moves through your nostrils to the stillness of a full point deep within your body.
Then, letting go, it gently releases to the silence of the resting place.
Follow that cycle from stillness to silence now for a dozen or so repetitions.
This time, as the breath moves in, imagine that you are going with it to that still place in the center of your being where the breath comes full.
Now imagine yourself staying in that place watching the breath move out of your body and into the silence. And there you are, right in the center of your being . . . still, secure, focused . . . noticing nothing but the easy rise and fall of the breath as it moves gently in its graceful rhythm . . . slow . . . deep . . . quiet . . . calm.
Now notice a breath that's moving out of your being and allow a soft, contented sigh to accompany its passage.
Repeat that practice of gently sighing on the out breath for a number of repetitions and then affirm
"WITH EVERY SIGH . . . WITH EVERY BREATH, I REMEMBER WHO I AM"
Continue that practice, gently moving the breath in and then releasing it with a contented sigh that purifies the physical body and cleanses all tension and turmoil from your emotional nature. Stay with that practice 'til you're feeling warm and secure, quiet and peaceful.
Then, when you are feeling really solid and centered, continue to focus your attention on the cleansing breath, but take a moment to ask this question . . . "FATHER/MOTHER GOD, HOW AM I DOING?"
After asking, just go back to being with the breath as it makes its gentle, healing passage in and out. Don't get caught up waiting for an answer . . . just be there with your breath and before long, from a place deep within you that some have described as "the secret place of the most high," you are going to sense a reply to your question that I know is going to go something like, "YOU ARE MY BELOVED CHILD IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED."
Now the ball's in your court. Now you've got a choice to make about who you are going to believe when it comes to the question of your worthiness, adequacy, lovableness and general all-around okayness. Will this be the occasion you begin listening to your own Christ nature, the God Presence within you . . . or, will you continue to sew bags over your head by believing the foolish conclusions of a frightened ego caught up in the mortal nonsense of judging its "self" according to some worldly standard of what it "must be" before it qualifies for an "I'm okay" button?
Remember what our Father said, "I have set before you life and death, curse and blessings, light and darkness." The choice is ours . . . choose light or choose darkness . . . just never forget who's doing the sewing.