There is a Persian folk hero named Mullah Nassrudin, the kind of wise fool you find in many cultures’ folk tales. In one story, Nassrudin is standing under a street lamp looking intently at the ground. A passerby asks, “What are you looking for, Mullah?”
“A ring, my son, I lost a ring.”
The man stopped to help the Mullah look. After several minutes, he said, “Mullah, are you sure you lost it here?”
“Here? I didn’t lose it here. I lost it over by the house.”
“Why are you looking here, then?”
“The light under this street lamp is much better than by the house.”
The other day, I decided I wanted to wear my brown pants. I opened the pants drawer, a jumble of black, gray, denim, and somewhere, brown. In the dim morning light, I pawed and fumbled, picking up one pair and then another, peering at them, unable to find the brown ones. They all looked alike. Suddenly, it occurred to me to turn on the light. What is it that makes me want to work in the dark? I thought.
Pain can be like these two incidents. So often we focus on the experience or perception of physical or emotional pain “where it hurts”, shining a light where things seem obvious. But the source of pain is harder to seek. Or the pain has become one undifferentiated mass of black, gray and brown and I forget to try to shine a light on what I’m trying to understand.
How can I shine the light of my attention where it is most helpful instead of looking for relief in all the wrong places? So often, I am unwilling to actually “see” the truth hidden in my habits, choices, and self-sabotaging patterns. One of the things I love about Awareness Through Movement® lessons is that they offer me a gentle, non-judgmental light to illuminate my relationship to my pain and its origins. I don’t have to talk to anyone. I don’t have to force a change. It just transforms me when I’m ready to light up my life.
Here’s one of my favorite lessons for helping expand attention to include more of yourself.