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The Curse of the Spaghetti Mind

Once in a while I meet a woman who has that exhausted look of someone who is lost wandering the endless tangles of the spaghetti mind. (Imagine your head as a pot of spaghetti- mamma mia!) Her eyes are matte, and she is biting her fingernails in anguish. Her breath reaches no further down than her upper ribcage, and her expression is close to frozen.

“What should I do?” she asks. “Should I stay or should I go?” (Although the following example is about a relationship, this syndrome appears just as often in relation to a job or even to a change of apartment.)

She has been searching for advice and different solutions from every available source. Her best friend is coaching her daily on the phone to “get rid of that bastard now!” At the meditation center they advise her to “work the stuff through, or you will never be enlightened.” “What relationship do you have with your father?” asks her hairdresser/wannabe shrink, and her mother joins the choir with a cheerful “all men are like that, you can’t trust them.” All these voices join together in her head that by now has turned into a Moroccan marketplace.

Now she is here in front of me, and it is obvious that she thinks if only she can get one more answer, the right one this time, she will know what to do. Her whole body is begging, “Please, I can’t stand this torture anymore. Tell me what to do!

We have all been in this woman’s shoes, in one way or another, or we have at least known someone in this situation. From our perspective it is of course obvious that one more contribution to the mess won’t do the trick. More advice will simply be another voice in the cacophony of her mind.

When we find ourselves in this condition, it is a sign that we have wandered astray from our connection to our own essence, we feel like an isolated island in an ocean of dangers and wrong choices. We start to rely on our thoughts to find “the right answer,” and we get lost in the endless tangle of the spaghetti mind.

Next time you see a friend (or yourself in the mirror) with this grayish look and that deep fold between her eyebrows, you know that the medicine needed is “cold turkey” from mental decision-making, and plenty of time to reconnect inside.

The confusion is only a symptom; we want to get to the core cause of her disease: disconnect from her body and inner wisdom, and a feeling of separation from the whole, two afflictions deathly to the feminine soul. The problem she has been trying to solve in her mind needs to be put aside for now so she can focus on  the deeper healing that needs to happen. The issue at hand is secondary and might not even be present when she reconnects with her body and with her essence.

Some women will kick off their shoes, let down their hair, and run out in the forest. Some will sit themselves down on a deserted beach and stare at the horizon, and others will just close the door to their room, firmly. They will settle inside simply by having time alone. But if the disconnection has had time to grow and get rigid, solitude can be more damaging than helpful. In that case, she needs guidance and support from a person she trusts. It can be a therapist or a wise woman, a friend, a mentor, or a circle of women who can take her by the hand and walk with her on the sometimes-rocky road back home.

The healing process may last many seasons, or it may take a fraction of a second, depending on how severe the disconnection is. We are experiencing fleeting periods of disconnection all the time, and in our healthy state we are constantly coming back to what’s real. We simply realize: ah, here are feelings, here are thoughts, and here is the luminous presence in which all this is happening. In an instant we are back home with our feet firmly planted on the earth and our heart vast as the silence that connects us all.

If, on the other hand, the disconnection has become habitual and been allowed to grow wild and to infect many areas of our life, the process of reconnecting might take time. A first (obvious but not always easy) step is to give yourself the time you need, however long that may be.

If you have the opportunity to spend time every day in nature, you are in the very best of hands.  But whether or not nature is available to you, the journey starts (always right now) with feeling your feet on the ground and making sure that you breathe deep down in your belly.

In the simple recognition that you are not your thoughts, you can relax and root yourself in natural presence where you experience life directly, with thoughts becoming useful tools to be used when needed instead of an obscuring filter through which we experience everything. When we commit ourselves deeply to this presence, we will naturally take the steps that are needed. It transcends right or wrong altogether—it just is.