How do you fold? How many folds do you carry? They are a strange set of questions, but put in right perspective, they can send one off on an exciting healing quest. And the answers to these questions can be both revelatory as well as shocking.
So here’s the perspective:
Imagine you were born into this world a clean sheet of paper. Every defining moment in your life causes you to crease and fold into various directions. You soon fold into a beautiful piece of origami! It’s not the final fold, but the origami piece that you are now is more or less stable.
Folds are spaces of held belief, faith and rigidity that swings you from one perspective to another viewpoint.
Now even if this origami piece is unfolded deliberately, the paper doesn’t automatically become plain and flat. There are still creases – or memories – of all past folds and also a tendency to fold into the same old form again.
So these folds are spaces of held belief, faith and rigidity that swings you from one perspective to another viewpoint. Anything defining in your life can be a fold. For instance, you are an infant in the arms of your mother. You see a spider and reach out to explore but at the same time your mom sees the spider and screams in fear. You start bawling; somebody comes and kills the spider. You may have folded in the direction of your mother that day, that is, picked up an irrational fear of spiders.
Another example could be you were harassed badly in your school and in response to that trauma your mind creates a defense to protect you – the defense could be anything like avoidance behavior, increased shyness, an aggressive stance, or any other form of protection. You have folded in yet another direction.
Another twist in the story is that some folds can be habitual behavior without any strong belief behind it save that of the need to express it in order the preserve the personality, or your ego in this context. A good example for this is an emotional habit like anger, grief, feelings of depression, etc. Many people are challenged by any of these emotional habits. My challenge is my anger folding – I have a need to become righteously angry every time I want to assert myself. Yours could a continuous mild depression or violent rage or demanding sexual desires or anything else.
Eventually, by the time you grow up, you arrive at a relatively stable personality that tries to preserve its folds and avoid future folding. The reason why the mind wants to preserve its folds is because you are defined by those folds – without them you don’t have a personality; you are not you! Yet at the same time, some of these folds could be the very reason why you sometimes feel conflicted, miserable or frustrated in life.
How do you fold?
Let’s go back to the initial questions now – How do you fold? How many folds do you carry?
The easiest way to find is to look for compulsive emotional patterns in your life because that’s where you can catch yourself ‘folding’. Let me give you an example.
I’ve mentioned before that anger is one of the challenges that I face. Another challenge is the inability to ignore what others speak of me. Now you can imagine the folds these two challenges in combination may have created in the past for me.
So every time I hear any gossip about me I quickly ‘fold’ into anger. It’s an automated fold – one minute I am merrily minding my work and the next – the moment I hear about the gossip – my mind takes this 90º turn into a hurt and angry perspective. And then all the intricate folds of anger began to happen – like I grind my teeth, get into short agitated bursts of fury, strong impulses to break things and so on – it’s almost like dominoes falling. Of course, with every effort to heal this anger, I have learned to manage the impulses but the ‘creases’ for it are still there on the sheet of my mind.
A few weeks ago I was able to catch myself in this folding. I was detached enough to see my angry thoughts race through my mind sending off impulses to act violently outside. The trick is to be able to do this. Of course it takes some practice for it is not easy to be detached when you are folding. You are the personality and the personality wants to fold. The method I used was to regularly practice watching myself when I am in a ‘normal’ frame of mind. This watching is from within, not from some external viewpoint. That soon gave me an ability, in some areas of folding at least, to watch myself folding without entirely getting lost in the folding.
Of course, you need to remember that if you catch yourself folding, it means there’s still a part of you folding into that emotional turn while another part of your is able to observe it happening. Your personality is still folding, but that’s how you answer the question “How do you fold?”
Can you unfold?
To answer the second question “How many folds do you carry?”, you need to catch yourself every time you fold. You don’t stop it, you just consciously witness it. And this is not so easy too, for many of your folds are also the moral and ethnic frameworks of the immediate society you live in. So you may not recognize the folding happening in those areas or even if you do, you may choose to keep them.
Some folds are a set of a series – that is, you they fold one after another in quick succession – they are so compressed that you may assume in the beginning for all of it to be one single fold. But with time and little effort of learning to watch yourself from within, the folds can be observed – sometimes almost like a flower blooming and you become a bit more calmer and peaceful no matter what is unfolding currently in your life.
An interesting observation I’ve made in my life is that life seems constantly provide opportunities for us to heal through our folds. Healing may not always mean unfolding. Healing is also being able to fold into beautiful pieces of origami that we are without necessarily suffering for it!