I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.

Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict

Cover of Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict.

Feeding Your Demons is woo. It introduces a meditation technique that is rooted in Buddhism and was adapted by the author (a once-Buddhist-nun, now American coach) to a Western audience. The author’s voice is a bit grating and, as is required for a woo book, it includes more about the author’s personal journey and all the people she has helped than I cared to know.

The setting is this: Anything that blocks complete inner freedom is a demon. Gods are our hopes, our obsessions, longings, attachments.

But when you remove the window dressing, you are left with a reflection/meditation technique that seems to actually just work for me. It is very similar in structure to Focusing, except that it is more visual and tactile where Focusing is verbal. Both are based around felt senses and embodied emotions, though.

The first part is exactly like Focusing: You have an inner conflict that you feel uncomfortable with, and that you’d like to resolve. You set aside half an hour or so in a quiet space. Take two chairs, sit down, calm down (she prescribes 3x3 breaths with specific prompts, but whatever works for you). You generate clear positive motivation to understand and solve this inner conflict. Then you concentrate on the conflict itself, trigger the specific feeling of discomfort, and note where it resides in your body.

And here we depart from Focusing. Next, you visualise the feeling in your body: Try see name texture, colour, size, weight, etc. Once you have a grip on the feeling, invite it out of your body, into a bodily shape on the chair in front of you. Take a good look at it (eyes closed), and take your time to pick up as much detail as you can. How tall is it? What colour is it? Unusual body parts? Something familiar? Is it at ease or restless? How does it sound, move, look? Does it have fur or skin or something else entirely? Ask yourself these questions, and then accept the first answer you get. Once you have a clear picture, ask these three questions out loud:

  1. What do you want?
  2. What do you need?
  3. Once you get what you need, how will you feel?

Then, switch places. Take your time to adjust to your new position. Keep your eyes closed. Imagine seeing your body in front of you. Then, without much thought, answer the three questions out loud. The answers may surprise you.

Switch back, again, take time to settle in. Then focus on the answer to the last question: How would the entity feel if it got what it needed? Take this feeling and generate it. Imagine feeding it to the entity, or bathing it in it: providing the feeling in abundance. Do this until the entity is sated. (Told you it was woo).

Bonus round: Sometimes, a new entity appears when the first one is at peace. The new one is called The Ally. If this happens, there are three new questions you can put to it, with the same technique as above:

  1. How will you help/protect me?
  2. What do you promise me?
  3. How can I find you?

In the end, take some time to just sit with everything that has happened.

It sounds wonderfully weird, so naturally I had to try it out. I got much more mileage out of it than I expected on my meditations so far. Surprising results that are more vivid and hard to forget because they feel physically real – plus I don’t tend to get stuck as on Focusing.

A caveat is that the method is very very hard to apply for extreme emotions. Great for mild and general anxiety, terrible for deep-seated humongous aversions, because they will either visually overwhelm you, or the generating of the positive emotions will be impossible in the emotional state you’re inducing.