Did you ever have one of those days when you woke up and thought, “I am feeling good and I am going to continue to make myself feel better?” This was me last week; I cut my hair, I moved my body a bunch, I had acupuncture done and went to a naturopath. Then, the sky darkened, as I sat in the doctor’s office. He told me that I have to do an intense elimination cleanse, where all the foods and drinks (that I love most) will be taken away. If something is taken away, then shouldn’t something else given? The doctor said that I might lose weight on the cleanse, “There’s the gift!” I thought; all wrapped in a shitty mindset.
Then it happened, I was standing in my bathroom, staring at my scale, questioning, “Do I or don’t I get on it?” The dark forces won and told me to get on the scale. “I need to know the number,” I thought, “it’s informative.” When really, it was just more information to use to feel shitty. And then there it was, it was big, bold, and it was a number I had never seen before.
Suddenly I was more tuned in to the tightness of my jeans, the new cellulite on my belly and arms, a roll of skin under my chin. I had been feeling really good lately and that number with all of its weight took away my light. But the old teachings say, “Nothing can be taken away from us, only willinging given.” I gave into this darker past version of myself, one defined by how I looked, what I weighed, and how old I was. The dark forces were back. The devil was lurking and erasing all of my self work in one instant. Or, was it? I was reminded of an old Cherokee proverb that I’d like to share with you, about two wolves.
An old Cherokee Indian chief was teaching his grandson about life. He said, “A fight is going on inside me,” he told the young boy, “a fight between two wolves. The Dark one is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The Light Wolf is good; he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you grandson…and inside of every other person on the face of this earth.” The grandson ponders this for a moment and then asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee smiled and simply said, “The one that you feed”.
Everyday we make choices, ones that seem insignificant or not too impactful. Yet no matter how big or how small these choices are, they leave imprints in our mind, in our body, and in our spirit. These choices define us and how we show up to the world.
The dark wolf’s appetite is insatiable. It is much easier to feed. It feasts on lack of communication, self-flagellation, and defining ourselves by a number on a scale or in a bank account. Defining ourselves by the pose we fall out of on the mat, instead of the pose we hold steady in.
The light wolf is much harder to feed, it takes more time, and more diligence. The light wolf thrives on no definitions, getting back up after falling, patience, learning, persistence, and the will to keep going. All of this takes guts and courage. The light wolf brings us together to connect with one another and find peace within.
However, the story doesn’t end there… it continues.
The old Cherokee continued, “If you feed them right, they both win.” and the story goes on:
“You see, if I only choose to feed the Light wolf, the Dark wolf will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and will always fight the Light wolf.”
“But if I acknowledge him, he is happy and the light wolf is happy and we all win. For the dark wolf has many qualities — tenacity, courage, fearlessness, strong-will and great strategic thinking – that I have need of at times. These are the very things the light wolf lacks. But the light wolf has compassion, care, strength and the ability to recognize what is in the best interest of all.”
“You see, son, the light wolf needs the dark wolf at his side. To feed only one would starve the other and they will become uncontrollable. To feed and care for both means they will serve you well and do nothing that is not a part of something greater, something good, something of life.”
“Feed them both and there will be no more internal struggle for your attention. And when there is no battle inside, you can listen to the voices of deeper knowing that will guide you in choosing what is right in every circumstance.”
“Peace, my son, is the Cherokee mission in life. A man or a woman who has peace inside has everything. A man or a woman who is pulled apart by the war inside him or her has nothing.”
“How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both.”
By Tara Brach
Rain is a great technique to acknowledge the Dark Wolf within….
And to create compassion and greater understanding.
Recognize what is happening;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Nurture with self-compassion