The conversations our mind entertains can seem so real and cause emotional reactions within the body just as if what you are thinking really did happen. Your body and mind go through the pain and punishing effects from these beliefs and releasing them or going through the healing process takes just as much work if not more than if it really did happen.
I remember an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine which Chief Miles O’Brien was accused of espionage on the planet of Argrathi. Yet on this planet, they don’t have an elaborate prison system. Instead, they sentence their criminals by placing cycles (or years) of memories in their minds as if they did spend hard time in prison. The memories are geared specifically to the personality of the accused; to have the greatest effect or punishment. Undergoing the process of implanting the memories of prison only took a few hours. But upon waking, the accused is just as affected and tormented because the thoughts and memories they now have seem so real.
In this episode called Hard Time, Chief O’Brien was sentenced to 20 cycles of prison memories. They include tortures, beating, hunger, imaginations, and conditions of depravation and disease. And in just a few hours of “real time” O’Brien is returned to DS9 to go back to his family, to his job and all his friends with the experiences of being separated from them for 20 years. They didn’t lose 20 years, but he did due to the reprogramming of his consciousness.
Miles O’Brien tries to fit back in, but the residual effects of what he believes to have happened to him, that which he believes to be true, pushes those that love him the most away and he nearly hits is young daughter out of rage. Miles refuses help and runs into the cargo bay on DS9, thrashing everything in his way only to stumble upon a weapons locker. He remembers the code, opens the locker and takes a phaser gun into his hand and changes the setting to maximum. Dr. Bashir finds O’Brien and talks him through the fact that he is a good man for he didn’t hit his daughter and the fact that he does feel guilt is a sign that he is not hardened. The doctor works with O’Brien, gets him the help he needs to be on the road to recovery and healing.
After recognizing the need for help and accepting it, Chief O’Brien walks back to his quarters and is greeted by his daughter saying to him with excitement, “Daddy’s Home, Daddy’s Home” and Miles says yes… “Daddy is home.”
There are more details in this story than I have shared. It is a very well done and shows how our thoughts, even though they are not real, can seem so real that they disrupt our life in the present moment. Sometimes we need help to navigate through all of our thoughts and beliefs. O’Brien was told, “The things you think you experienced, what you think you remembered never happened. It wasn’t real.” Miles replied, “Well they’re real to me.” And because of the belief he had, that what he had in his mind was real, he started projecting feelings onto those he loved, as if they were a continuation of what occurred in prison.
What kind of “Hard Time” are you putting yourself through by holding onto old beliefs and thoughts? Holding on to them and believing something is true about you when it is not is just as damaging as if they were actually real. Someone may have said something harsh to you, or they allowed hurt to occur in your past, or just were inconsiderate and you have allowed it to take ahold of your self-esteem into a downward spiral of anger, rage and self-punishing activities. We are to question what we think and the stories we have implanted in our minds – whether they be fairy tale stories or more like doomsday dramas. We come up with conclusions in our minds so quickly because we need to have answers to what is unknown. “Why isn’t so-in-so responding to me?” or “How come my manager hasn’t replied to my emails?” or how about, “Why doesn’t my boyfriend seem more excited to see me?” And we begin to imagine and from those imaginations we make assumptions and those assumptions, if held onto, become our “artificial reality” and that which never really occurred has now become our prison.
Proverbs 23:7 states it so well – “As a man thinketh so is he”. Henry Ford wisely said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” And Byron Katie, the creator of The Work, says “When I believe my thoughts, I am sleep. I have traded the state of grace for a dream.” She also teaches us to notice and examine our thoughts and asks us “What would you be or how would you feel if you no longer believed the thought you are having?” She also teaches in The Work to ask the question “Is it true?” One of my favorite Byron Katie quotes is, “An unquestioned mind is the world of suffering.”
So just like the thoughts of Chief Miles O’Brien, on the science fiction TV show Star Trek Deep Space Nine, we too can move through what we thought was true about ourselves and begin to heal the damaging affects by excepting help, by allowing others to remind us of our true nature, to remind us what we are here on this planet to do, stopping the inner torment and come home to peace.