Even Good Ideas are Prisons

Pretty ones, but prisons nonetheless

I have this great mantra I’ve been using recently:

Fall back, my friend, fall in.

It reminds me to rest in the the formless space where all the magic happens.

When this mantra came to me, I wasn’t trying to soothe or fix or save myself. I didn’t google, “simple mantras,” or find it in a book. It arose organically from an insight — a feeling of connection to that formless space within. So I guess you could say it wasn’t a mantra at all; it was a way of reminding me of a pleasurable experience I’d had, should I want to access it again some day.

For a couple weeks, when I was feeling lost, anxious, isolated, empty, or effortful, a small voice would inevitably emerge from the fog and say,

Fall back, my friend, fall in.

And so I would. Quite naturally, in fact. It was exquisite. I got to dance between form and formless. I’d hang out in my ego when I wanted to. When it wasn’t fun anymore, I’d slide out of separation and into connection.

But mantras are just words. Signifiers. And signifiers get stale.

The second you start to confuse the signifier for the thing, the thing begins to elude you. As soon as you think you’ve “got it”, it starts to slip away.

I say, let it slip away.

Because even our best ideas about life are prisons. They’re prettier than the prisons built by some of our more judgmental, less hopeful ideas, but they’re prisons nonetheless.

Getting attached to our ideas keeps us trapped in our little personal minds. It cuts off our experience of connection to wisdom —whether you see that wisdom as imprinted on our genome by the entirety of evolutionary history, or floating all around us in the form of a Holy Spirit, or something else (these are all just ideas, too, after all).

Taking thoughts too seriously reduces our toolbox to only the thoughts we’ve had before. It keeps us from seeing something new.

Before I found this mantra I’m currently living by, I never could have imagined I’d see what I see now. So, it stands to reason that I cannot currently imagine the beautiful ideas that will spring forth tomorrow.

Why wait until tomorrow, friend? If you feel your mantra’s gotten stale, why not let it go?

I know it can be scary to drop something that seems to have been working. But that something is not the thing that’s been working for you anyway.

The conceptual something you’ve been repeating in your time of need is pointing to something deeper. That something — the deeper, more real thing that’s not really a thing at all — that’s what’s been helping you.

That non-thing, feeling, experience, oneness, peace, place before words. That’s where the comfort came from. Look to that.

What do you find?


Brooke is a mentor, writer, and recovered worry wart. She helps fellow angsters get out of their heads and into their lives.