In this blog entry I wanted to share with you and except from the latest book I read. The book is called Message from Forever, a novel of aboriginal wisdom by Marlo Morgan. I highly recommend it. It was educational and inspiring.
The portion I want to share is part of a dialogue an elder Aboriginal woman from the Real People Tribe imparting wisdom to a young woman from the Stolen Generation who wanted to learn about her Aboriginal wisdom and history.
“All new encounters are tests- with food, with people, with ideas. Smell everything first. If someone tells you something, smell it! If it smells all right, then try a little for the taste, but always chew it. Chew for a long time before you swallow. Even words should be chewed for a long time before swallowing because it is easier to spit something out than it is to get rid of it once you have already taken it in.”
Test it before consuming
This was a response to the young woman’s questioning how in the bush, the Real People know what is edible. But the lesson goes beyond food. It is a much more important message. I sit with people everyday who are confronted with many different messages in their lives. Some of these messages can be harmful if “taken in”. Many times people take undesirable messages to heart and experience pain and suffering.
Once this is “taken in”, there is a part of us that is choosing to validate this message. The elder in this excerpt, tells us to take a while to “chew” the words to see if they fit for us. The time allowed is very important. Chewing gives us time to mull it over, see past the initial anger to figure out how we want to feel and respond. Do we want to be available for these words to touch us, affect us, and harm us? Should we spit them out and be unavailable to them?
Through therapeutic conversations, we try to deconstruct messages people have about themselves that they have already taken in, sometimes many, many years ago. These messages have become beliefs with well defended truth statuses and they take a bit longer to deconstruct. When I say “well defended truth status” I mean that this significantly affects how we make meaning around other events and generally how we see and understand the world.
Aboriginal wisdom at work
So if something happens that is evidence our belief is “true”, we “take it in”. And we hold it as proof, saying, “See, I really don’t matter!” or something like that. Whereas– if we didn’t have that belief, we’d see the event in a different way. For example, if I was to meet a friend for coffee and they were late. If I had taken in messages that I don’t matter in my life, this is what I would conclude by my friend’s tardiness. I may be mad by the time she comes.
Like the elder teaches, by refusing to gulp down words in favor of chewing them thoroughly before we make the decision to swallow, we may experience the world in a different way. The elder invites us to be an observer, instead of recipient or even judge. So, if a friend I was meeting was late, I can chew this and observe it. I may be able to see many reasons for this that have nothing to do with me. The distance from the situation being an observer allows us, assists us in responding from a preferred place. I am going to put it to practice in my own life and see what happens.