There is a very old tradition taught by indigenous elders from the Americas that trains us to use the voice of the mind to be free of the voice. The term these elders use for this process is called “stalking.” It is understood that the word stalking has some negative connotations in our society. However, stalking is an honored part of this Medicine Way. These societies were hunter-gatherers: Just as they stalked animals for their energy, we have been taught to stalk the voice in the mind for its energy.
In stalking, we use three areas of awareness to assist us in finding energy. The first is our thoughts: judgmental and critical, future or past, and self-pitying. The second place we look for energy is emotion: Am I having an emotional reaction to this person or event? The third area of awareness is physical: If I am unaware of my thinking or emotional responses, I can almost always become aware of physical tension or upset in the body.
Stalking is proactive: I begin to look for judgmental/critical thoughts and when and where they occur. For example, if someone cuts me off in traffic, I can be aware of how quickly I become critical and feel anger, and how such thoughts and emotions create tension in my body. When I become aware, I begin to have some choice in how I use my energy, either to judge or to accept. I begin to learn from the world and people whether I am a leaf at the mercy of the wind, or I am aware and responsible.
If we could change the voice from “enemy” to “ally,” what would happen physically and emotionally, and how would our mental activities change?
Stalking to Heal Relationships
A professional woman who joined our stalking group tells a story of using stalking to heal an aspect of her relationship with her husband. In her words:
“One evening during dinner with my husband, he said something I experienced as very sarcastic. I immediately reacted and fortunately was aware of my reactions. My stomach and neck were tight, I was angry, and my heart was closed to him. Because of my training as a psychotherapist, I diagnosed and labeled him.”
This time, instead of speaking her thoughts and arguing (creating more distance), she chose to “stalk herself,” to see if she was sarcastic in some place in her life. Her ego (self-importance) said she was not sarcastic; “People are rude when they are sarcastic, and I’m not rude.”
Later in her office, she said she actually heard herself being slightly rude to her receptionist. In the afternoon, she heard herself being sarcastic to a client. Later that evening, much to her surprise, she spoke in a sarcastic way to her husband. At that point, she committed herself to stalking her own sarcasm for the next five days before saying anything to her husband about his. A short version of the story is that she discovered she was sarcastic every day, even though she said she hated sarcasm in other people. This Medicine Way teaches that stalking will reduce our self-importance (shrink the ego). This is true.
“Toward the end of the week when my husband was sarcastic, I laughed and went over and hugged him and felt closer. He helped me discover something I was blind to,” she said.
In this way of living, we see other people become our spiritual teachers. If we are relentless and impeccable about stalking ourselves, a result is that we leave the world and other people alone. This helps us in being more peaceful.
Usually, stalking the voice in the mind begins with listening for the voice of self-judgment, since it is sometimes the easiest to hear and capture. When the stalker can hear the self-judgment and is willing to accept the idea that the voice is “not I” and yet “I have such a voice,” the stalking begins.
We then begin to realize the power this voice has to create suffering within, and that such suffering is separate from what occurs in the outer world. This suffering can occur from events that are years in the past. While traditional psychology talks about forgiving one’s self, the stalker looks for the power the voice has to create, and how often it creates suffering, and then questions what life would be like if the voice were supportive rather than judgmental. If we could change the voice from “enemy” to “ally,” what would happen physically and emotionally, and how would our mental activities change?
The next energetic movement is to picture the voice in a chair opposite us. We use the right brain to picture this energy and give it a place to sit—honoring it because it has power to create. We stalk a buffalo not to hurt him, yet to capture the power in his being and take it into ourselves as a gift from Spirit. Our intention is the same with the voice: It has power and we wish to re-own that power to create.
As we choose to experience the suffering this voice can create by judging us, we feel this physically and emotionally, and notice that it is done through our mental faculties. When the awareness of suffering is high, we then change places and become one with the voice and look back at “ourselves.” When we choose to do this, we can feel the power the voice has in the physical and realize how quickly emotions can change. We often laugh and feel light and happy playing the role of the judge—a real paradox.
It has been said that Spirit is always in paradox. If we are willing to do this movement, rather than think about it, we can literally “re-own” this creative power in our physical body, quiet our mind, and become neutral emotionally. We find peace through the voice that creates suffering. We begin to understand the old Medicine Way called Enemy Way—to use the enemy as teacher.
A side effect of these energetic maneuvers is that I will become stronger and more grounded. Another side effect of stalking is that my thoughts slow, and I become more peaceful, and therefore happier. Stalking is rigorous and proactive (opposite from our reactive culture). Stalking builds awareness, clarity, and responsibility. Stalking forces me to be responsible and to stop blaming the world and other people for my reactions (on the mental, emotional, and physical levels). The elders teach this Medicine Way that helps me become a more complete human.