Do you know what to do with your demons?

Everyone has demons…a dark side born of inescapable human nature as well as inescapable life wounds. You likely already know what yours are… some variation of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony. As an upstanding human, you’ve likely also spent some time trying to get rid of such ‘sins’ with varying degrees of success. What you may not know, however, is that while it’s important to keep your demons close and under your mastery, it’s equally important not to eradicate their essential power. The reason your demons keep coming back is that they contain crucial information for self-expression and wholeness.

I recently heard the chorus of soulful Irish musician, Hozier’s song, “Arsonists Lullaby”:

All you have is your fire
and the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons,
But always keep ‘em on a leash.

Sage advice, but how do you do it? The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, (Eat, Pray, Love) described a profound healing she had with her demons in an interview on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Elizabeth had been in silent meditation for weeks. Her mind kept regurgitating mistakes, errors, ‘sins’. Finally in a moment of grace she realized (I’m paraphrasing here), I can’t…shouldn’t keep trying to banish them. I need to call them to me, tenderly. I need to enfold them in my loving arms and let them know I am here. They are a part of me and we are okay.

What Ms. Gilbert describes is a crucial first step to liberating the life force each demon contains…welcoming them. You’ll never get demons to share their essential passion with you if they don’t feel your non- judgmental interest in them. Yes, non-judgmental! That means engaging with curiosity and an invitation to reveal their true nature to you.

Engaging your demons requires discovering the whole being qualities residing beneath the surface of any judging ‘sin’ labels. For example, wrath is a distortion of righteous anger alerting you to boundary infringement, greed twists healthy self promotion and self care into obtaining mountains of unrewarding stuff, sloth disguises a beneficial resistance to meaningless activity into laziness, pride twists healthy self love into brittle ego, lust bends erotic imagination and power into materialism and domination, envy disfigures healthy self appraisal and our ongoing desire for transformation into useless competition, gluttony warps a healthy longing to be fully nourished into face stuffing stupification.

Whenever you are dialoguing with your demons it is crucial to wake up to your Big S Self awareness so you can stay in your body, in the present moment even as you are also distinct from your experience. Keep looking for emotional aliveness…sad, mad, scared, glad feelings. Experience them fully, briefly. Mindful, embodied emotion is the key to releasing the potent life passion your demons contain. Ask them simple questions: What are you mad, sad, scared about? What do you need? What do you offer me? Be gentle with yourself. Get professional support if you encounter numbness which doesn’t dissolve.

Take all the time you need. Integrating the sacred fire demons contain into your life in creative, healthy, and potent ways is the work of a lifetime. It is work that will strengthen your awareness and your ability to be fully present, body, emotions, mind and spirit with both darkness and light.

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