Last year I bought a new shredder for the office – a Fellowes shredder. I kept its box and used it in our group room as a little ‘table’ to put papers as we teach. On it is the photograph of a ferocious bulldog determined to hold on and shred whatever it can grip in its powerful jaws. Over the course of time, some people wondered about the emotional impact of this creature on people learning to meditate. It looks menacing, wild and unfriendly. Doesn’t it represent exactly the opposite of the serenity we try to impart in a meditation program?

David, one of our students, took matters into his hands and one day came in with a cute, elegant and stylish little wooden table he donated as a replacement for this horrible box. We were delighted; however, the moment we considered getting rid of the box, a strange affection for the bulldog emerged. Its picture ended up being cut out from the box as the box went into recycling. The sense was that this bulldog, as ferocious as it appeared, was also serving a function, almost a protective and even motivating function. It didn’t take long for David to snatch the cut-out picture and return it to us a few weeks later, nicely framed for our group room. Thank you so much!

Indeed, we have come to love our little ‘fellow’, as it fearlessly stares at us, ready to jump into action, and doggedly pursue whatever goal has to be pursued without flinching. Although seemingly ferocious and maybe even frightening on the surface, he has come to symbolize to us the dogged determination, with which the work in mindfulness and mindsight needs to be pursued. Given that the human brain is the most complex object in the known universe, it is not surprising that meeting one’s mind is the most difficult task we’ll ever take on, especially given its enormous complexity and the many ways it can fool us. It takes great patience, tenacity and staying power to practice an hour a day, knowing that it takes 10 years, 10 thousand hours to deeply rewire the brain on this 1000-year journey.

So after all, our little fellow is our friend, our ally on the journey into the unknown jungle, where the task of slaying dragons awaits us.

Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Stéphane Treyvaud. All rights reserved.