Πέμπτη 9 Ιουνίου 2011

A story about bull leaping and overcoming addictions

photo from here

Imagine yourself on a small,beautiful island ''set like a jewel in the dark blue sea,washed by waves on every side''(Homer) some 4000 years ago ago.

  Somewhere on this island near the palace is the bull ring,consisting of an outdoor fenced area.Unlike modern rings,this one is surrounded by a low masonry structure that seems to offer inadequate protection from the bull's rage to spectators gathered around it.

There is a group of six boys and girls,none older than eighteen, lined up in the middle of the arena.They are tall,their stature and built of a noble kind with well-proportioned figures,long,powerful limps,facial features even and regular,big dark eyes,long black hair.

Both boys and girls are bare chested.They are all wearing a closely-fitting loin cloth,richly embroidered.Their waist is tightened by an embroidered girdle and they have boots made of soft animal skin on.Ample jewellery and arrangement of their hair indicates their high social rank;they belong to the nobility of the island.They are acrobats about to take part in a dangerous bull leaping game involving spectacular jumps on the back of charging bulls.It is the sacred ceremony of ''tavrokathapsia''.

In the middle of their row stands tall and proud a young princess.Her curled black locks,adorned with beads and gems,are arranged into a tight and elaborate coiffure.Her intricate neclace indicates her royal status,golden armlets and wristbands adorn her arms and wrists.Just like everyone in her team she is aware of the danger of her undertaking.She has no weapon to defend herself against the rage of the bull.Her courage and skill are going to mark the only difference between either glory or a gory death.

But she's had months,years even of practice.She has done this a thousant times before in a private arena with smaller and tamer animals,her trainer always by her side.Now she's ready for the big event.Her family,friends and suitors are all there,watching her,waiting for her to demontrate her superiority of spirit over the wild power of the bull.

She is fingering her magic golden ring engraved with the sacred knot that was ceremoniously given to her at the temple yesterday.She is confident that the knot can keep death away from her.Still,it would be a disgrace and bad luck for her family and the whole island if she were to be injured today so naturally she is more than a little anxious to perform well.She closes her eyes,whispers the ancient prayer,an invocation to the divine Almighty to guide and protect her.

Her audience is cheering,the bull is released.He is a huge,piebald beast,much bigger than the bulls we are used to seeing nowadays,with bigger horns,specially bred and reared for this ceremony.He is confident and arrogant.His strong animal instincts inform him that he is there to play and perform only (unlike bulls in bullfighting who instinctively know they are going to be tormented to death).But like most strong and arrogant creatures he cannot tolerate weakness-he won't hesitate to gore to death each and everyone of the young acrobats if they let him to.

Now the bull,urged on by specially assigned ringmasters,charges headlong into the line of jumpers.Each member of the team is getting ready for their role.The young princess remains motionless,facing the galloping bull.She locks her eyes into his,utters the ceremonial words:''Sacred brother,I honour your courage and strength,and I am matching them with mine!"

Then she forgets everything else as her training skills take over.She starts counting,1,2,3...and when the bull is right in front of her she grabs his horns and vaults herself over the animal.The bull immediately jerks his head upwards,giving her the necessary momentum to perform her first somersault.If she misses that first,incredibly violent upward jerk she is doomed,because immediately afterwards the beast will start jerking his head sideways in an attempt to throw her off.

But she is perfectly trained.Still counting in her head,with expert precision,she turns a back somersault and lands on the bull's back.Then she turns one more somersault and gracefully lands on the ground,where a boy of her team is waiting to steady her if she needs it.

The spectators cheer and call her name,she waves and bows to them,the bull gallops away towards the other side of the arena where the rest of the jumpers are ready for him.She did it,she accomplished her feat!

There comes a moment in everyone's life when we have to face an addiction or destructive habit,just like the Cretan princess faced the bull.It could be anything,from a drug/smoking/drinking addiction to shopaholic or workaholic habits,from sugar addiction (my thing!) to procrastination habits,you name it and there's probably someone out there suffering from it and despairing that they'll ever get over it.

Of course,just like in modern bullfighting where the bull is brutally killed,you can opt for ''killing'' your addiction with aggressive means such as drugs,pills,technology etc.

But can you really ''kill'' an addiction?Can you really eliminate it without having some part of you dying along with it?

Any addiction or destructive habit is deeply rooted in one's soul,not just one's body and mind.It is our soul that is looking for convenient crutches in the shape of an addiction to lean on,to get through life's hardships and troubles.An addiction is a comforter,a pacifier,your feel-good factor in a cruel,indifferent world.Eliminate it with external means and you kill a part of your soul as well,the part that needs to be understood and appeased first.If you don't do that,it will come back to haunt you in the form and shape of another addiction,disease or problem.No,you can never get rid of that bull.

So what's the answer?

You have to face your bull.And face it unarmed.No weapons,no tecnology,no substitutes.Just your willpower.Don't buy into the rant: ''It cannot be done without any help.Impossible.You need....(add anything here'').Yes,it can be done.By you.If anybody else ever did it,so can you. 

Face your bull.This is when you finally decide to do something about your addiction.Don't run away from it.Don't just ''avoid triggers".It'll keep following you to the ends of the earth until you finally confront it.Face your addiction or destructive habit bravely.Ask for the help of a power bigger than you,get a talisman if you need to.Just keep in mind,no matter how helpful all these are,it's you that 'll have to jump over that bull,you that will have to overcome your addiction,one brave no at a time.

This is when you grab your bull by the horns,this is when the craving kicks in,you are overwhelmed by its power,can you do it?

Dr G.Pascale writes in this excellent article:

''...the most mysterious moment in the whole process,when the leaper is upside down and can't hold control,when he/she is wholy in the hands of the divinity.....the time of conversion,when the whole body of the leaper[representing the whole mind of the addict] turns round and renounces itself (the addiction),replacing it with new hopes(for an addiction-free life).''

But wait!No matter how heroic or determined you are,you cannot accomplish your feat without lots of training first.Train your willpower by saying no or yes to a few less addictive and easier to do things.Wake up earlier every day,work out more,save some money,deny yourself a couple of things to develop your willpower muscles.

Then,when your soul tells you you are ready,go for the big leap fearlessly and confidently.

I'll be there mentally,ready to catch you and steady you up after the leap if you need to.And I hope you can do the same for me.

Photos from all the above links

photo from here

Love,peace and empowerment


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