24 November 2008

An Anecdote

At the beginning of some of my yoga classes, the instructor asks us to "pick an intention for your practice, a dedication to someone or something, a reason for why you're here today. Could be a part of your body that especially needs work, could be anything."

Mine tend to be about areas of my body that need work - neck, shoulders, that incessant ringing in my ears that started last December and refuses to go away. Sometimes I'll pick writing, either as a whole or a particular character that I'm writing for.

One day a few months back, something odd happened.

Me: "Hmmm... is my shoulder extra stiff today maybe?"
Voice1 in my head, suddenly speaking up: "God."
Me: "Huh?"
Voice: "GOD."
Me: "Umm. God? Why would I pick that?"
Voice: "GOD. GOD. GOD."
Me: "Okay, well, what kind of God? There are lots of different versions of--"
Voice: "Christian2 God."
Me: "But I'm not--"
Voice: "Specifically, the Catholic God."
Me: "..."
Voice: "GOD. Definitely GOD."
Me: "Well umm, I do have a character who is a knight templar, and that's how he'd feel about it, so, how about I just think of him then?"

This seemed acceptable to the voice in my head. The class moved on to the usual variety of poses and stretches, and I got too busy keeping track of proper posture to wonder why I was suddenly a devout worshipper of the Catholic God, when the most involvement I'd ever had with them before was to attend the occasional wedding or funeral in one of their churches.

After class, a young man three mats away from me started talking about a horrible car accident he was in several months ago. It was amazing that he was still alive, and although his back was seriously screwed up, he was lucky to be walking and not paralyzed. His father told him that the very first thing he said, upon waking up from his month-long coma, was "I was walking with God." The young man said, "I'm so thankful to God, I wouldn't still be here if it wasn't for Him."

A few days later, while I was driving home from a completely different yoga class (one that didn't have that young man in it, and where no voices suddenly insisted that I had a deep, hitherto unknown devotion to God), I finally thought (I'm slow that way sometimes): "...oh. So THAT'S where it came from."

Stuff like that happens to me all the time.

1It wasn't an actual, verbal voice. It was a sensation of strong conviction. One that as I poked at it trying to figure out what it was, I got more and more info out of it.

2Every religion (and Christian denomination) has a slightly different conception of God, which makes their 'feel' slightly different. This is most noticeable in their churches. God comes in a lot of different distinct flavors that are distinguishable once you've seen them enough to recognize them. Churches that are mainly used for worship by their members will convey their flavor strongly, while churches that allow lots of different views are more generalized, and churches that double as tourist attractions usually lose their signal to all the noise.


kimby said...

Fits nicely with my post from today. I think that my religion prof was more amazed than my daughter that I was reading the material that I was. IT is recommended reading, and we have had several discussions on my beliefs. He chuckled when he saw me reading it at break time.

Random Michelle K said...

The voices in my head don't do anything more than berate me or make bad puns.

Interested in trading?

MWT said...

Hmm... in case you missed it, the voice wasn't coming from within my head. It was from the other guy. And it wasn't a voice. It was just easiest to represent it as a dialogue.

Random Michelle K said...

I know.

I'd still rather have that than the voices in my head berating me.


Random Michelle K said...

To clarify, lest you find me completely (as opposed to mostly) irreverent...

The possibility that some thoughts might have an external source rather than an internal one would be a relief.

It's one thing to know someone else doesn't like you and is saying negative things about you. It's something else completely if it's your own brain that doesn't like you.

MWT said...

Heh, the voices in my head sometimes argue with each other over how crummy I am. All the while referring to me as "you" of course. :p

Nathan said...

I know it's not really helpful, but you two need to stop that right this instant.

You're two of my favorite people. No dissing allowed even from yourselves.

MWT said...

So... can we send them over to you then? :D

Anne C. said...

I'm pretty sure our inner critics wouldn't last long against a guy like Nathan.

I'll try that next time I hear mine. "Shut it or I'll tell Nathan!"


Random Michelle K said...

OK voices, that's it! Pack up and head over to Nathan's place!

Unknown said...

Well, what's so surprising hearing other peoples' thoughts? This has been going on forever. Usually our own heads are so noisy with our own thoughts, we can't hear (or listen to) others.
The environment of a Yoga Class, which tends to generate somewhat of a stillness, would sensitize you to hearing other (very strong, such as the grateful young man) thoughts.
Also, MWT, when you have been writing, you are sensitized to hearing what your characters want to say, so you are generally paying more attention.
As for the argumentative and criticizing thoughts in our heads, those need to be sent off for Nathan to take care of, for sure. He is highly capable, if what I have been reading about his job is accurate.... ; )

Nathan said...

It's not that I'm immune to the voices, it's just that I haven't met the voice yet that I can't tune out.

LaLaLa, I'm not listening.

MWT said...

Brenda: I'm not surprised by it. As I said, this is a normal routine occurrence for me. But some discussions elsewhere prompted me to post it as an illustration of something that happens regularly as part of my life, in the hopes that others might get a better grasp on where I'm coming from. This particular example happened to make for a good post. ;)

In short, I'm sensitized pretty much all the time. And yes, people generally broadcast everything about their emotional states all the time, because they assume nobody else can detect it. It's like being surrounded in a sea of emotions. Most of the time it's just background noise, but now and then there's an especially tall wave passing by. Those make for good stories. ;)

Nathan: that sounds like a good talent to have when you start each and every workday with someone screaming at you. ;)