Putting the pieces together
July 09, 2011
For a while I actually used external metaphor to help with internal processes. This is one place where "As outside, so inside (and vice versa)" can come in quite handy. I used 500 or 1000-piece puzzles as a means of deliberate meditation and metaphor for what was going on in my head. It was very relaxing, very zen, putting together the puzzle on the outside while my internal friends were tidying up things on the inside.
There are other similar metaphors I've found useful over the years. Sewing, embroidery, making bead jewelry, drawing, painting, writing, cleaning the house, fixing things. The nice thing is that I would always get something done on the outside while getting things done inside too.
How I've made it work is through intention. I set up the intention to have one thing reflect the other, something we sometimes do unintentionally anyway. And if you're going to do some internal tidying up, it's nice not to have your body staring vacantly in space.
The criteria I can see for this is that the activity chosen is usually quiet, sedentary, repetitive, and doesn't require much pre-verbal thinking to accomplish, so that the people inside have all the room they need to do what they're working on. As an example we would pick one piece of the puzzle to work on and look through our puzzle pieces for a certain criteria of the missing piece until we found it.
Normally this is mind-numbing and boring "work" but when it's an external allegory for internal headwork, it's relaxing and soothing. It also looks much less "crazy" to anyone outside your head. If they ask what you're doing you can just say "I'm working on a puzzle." Best yet, you can add: "Would you like to join me?" Imagine them helping you put together the puzzle inside while helping you put together the puzzle on the outside. It couldn't hurt.