While doing my yoga teacher training in India, one of the highlights was Friday night Bhajans (devotional songs) and storytelling. These stories can be found in all the wisdom traditions and although they vary across cultures, the lessons are timeless and universal. Many of the ancient parables have valuable lessons for all of us in our busy modern lives.
Working in the Discovery program at Cedars, I often speak with families who are “in crisis”. The addict in their lives has created chaos and disruption and it is the family members who are left cleaning up the mess, fixing the problems, paying the debts, taking in the kids etc. This chronic or acute stress becomes the norm and people learn to operate in fight or flight mode. On the roller coaster of life with an addict, family members typically swing from feeling “great” to feeling “awful” depending on how their loved-ones are doing.
I find the following parable to be a helpful reminder that we cannot know in the moment whether something is good or bad, but to simply pause and observe the facts without judgement.
There was an elderly farmer who had worked his crops for many years with his old horse. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “That’s terrible” they said sympathetically. “We’ll see” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “That’s wonderful!” the neighbors exclaimed. “We’ll see,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy saying “That’s awful”. “We’ll see” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. “That’s fantastic!” the neighbours exclaimed. “We’ll see” said the farmer.
After participating in the Discovery program, when confronted with a “crisis” our family members are far better equipped to be able to pause, to check in with their feelings, and choose their response from a calm, informed place, rather than reacting in panic.
By Amanda Graham