you & me

The Labyrinth: A Series of Art. {Part Ten: Mind, My Identity}

{Photo credit: Kristi Stout}

The other night I had a terrifying nightmare.

You know how sometimes when you dream, you are in a familiar place, whether it’s your house, or your office, yet it doesn’t look anything like the way it does in real life? Instead it’s some strange amalgamation of imaginative ideas that come together and tell you that it’s your house?

Well, in this particular nightmare, it didn’t behave like a normal dream in that regard, because everything in it looked exactly similar to my waking life. In it, I was alone in my house at night. My brain even formulated the shadows with precise accuracy, that play in my house when all the lights are off and my daughter’s nightlight can be seen coming out of her room in a soft glow down the hall.

In the dream, I was walking down the hall to make sure the front door was locked (a habit I indulge in few times a night), passing my daughter’s room. I knew she was not home but out of town for the weekend, so I knew I didn’t need to check on her.

She has a bathroom attached to her room, and you can hear it from the hall when the shower runs or the toilet flushes.

As I was walking toward the front door, I saw to my horror it was unlocked. I knew without a doubt I had locked it and checked it several times. My heart started. That was nothing however, compared to what happened next. Suddenly, I heard the faucet in her bathroom turn on, and the sound of movement — a rustling. 

WTF? I slowly peeked into her bedroom and saw her bed was perfectly messy and unmade — and also empty, as I knew she was gone — but somebody was in her bathroom! In the middle of the night!

I felt the pain of my adrenaline pump full force and penetrate my system, as my heart shot up into my throat with a fierce pounding: What do I do? I thought, frozen like a deer in headlights.

I knew that at any moment that faucet was going to turn off and the door of the bathroom would squeak open, and I’d be confronted with whatever terror had broken into my bathroom in the middle of night! I didn’t want to wait to find out.

So I screamed.

I live in an apartment complex, so maybe the neighbors who share my wall would hear and come to my rescue!

Turns out, I screamed so loud I woke myself up.

There was the familiar form of my bed and the comforting shadows I know to be my bedroom late at night. I was safe. But I’m pretty sure I may have actually awoken the neighbors who share my wall.

That’s how loudly I screamed.

Fortunately, in truth, the front door was still locked, and my daughter’s bed was picture-perfect, exactly how it looked in my dream. But it was terrifying, because I couldn’t tell the difference from what was my dream and what was my waking life. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream so accurate like that.

{Photo credit: Kristi Stout}

If any of you have seen Inception by director Christopher Nolan, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, you will know exactly the kind of labyrinthine concept I’m talking about. Dreams within dreams within dreams! What is the truth?

I feel like (usually) our dreams look strange but feel familiar. I feel our minds do this as a kind of safety mechanism to inform us subconsciously that it’s not real, and is a dream. But the more I think of it and the more I study the mind, the more I believe that our thoughts are just as real as our waking, tactile life, and they need to be treated with the same respect our physical bodies do.

As I experienced the other night in that horrid nightmare, my mind had the power to physically affect me. It woke me up and I was screaming, my heart was pounding as hard as it was when I thought a stranger was actually hiding in my daughter’s bathroom in the middle of the night. My body didn’t know truth from fiction. It reacted in a very real way.

How powerful is the mind! Capable of great and awe-inspiring things! Also, terrible.

The way it’s been conditioned has the ability to create our individual reality. Our own personal truth, which may not be the true truth, but we base our entire identity on what our mind perceives. But how do we know what’s true?

We all know the ego. The ego is how we identify ourselves, our name, our place in the world, and I feel the ego is largely incongruent with the mind for shaping our identity. From the way our dialog banters on in our head (the way we think too highly or too small of ourselves), the traumas we may have suffered in life, the hardships and adversity, all affects the way we view the world which is perceived with our mind.

Affecting the body’s structure, its emotional responses, outlooks, the way it produces chemicals even. The mind is a miraculous tool we’ve been given and never really taught how to use in full, with proper integrity and focus.

I feel it’s run rampant for years — achieved amazing things along the way, protected us, enabled us to create. But it’s done terrible things too. Kept us trapped in toxic energy patterns, over-indulged in belief systems, hurt others because of its ill-managed rampancy, even if it might have been operating unconsciously.

I call this the feral mind.

Feral is merely something trying to operate according to its nature in a tamed environment (our conditioned truth). It’s the tamed environment that is the problem, not the feral thing itself. With the mind adjusted and placed in a proper environment, directed in right ways, we can do wonders for the greater good. Because it’s such a powerful thing. We may even manifest miracles!

Without the mind, we wouldn’t even know what identity is. The mind is a very sacred tool that has, I feel, been fast asleep on autopilot with no plotted course. But now, a lot of us have awoken enough to recognize a more visceral kind of reality — that somewhere we went off course.

Recognizing that perhaps we’ve been dreaming this whole time, where we arrived at our destination only to be rudely awakened, realizing that our dream wasn’t accurately the truth. Something made us scream so loud it woke us up.

Now our minds are opened to our true natures, flying aimlessly, or in a nosedive, sort of sitting here looking at the mess (we have made) of everything. Wondering. With more questions probably than we have answers for.

But one thing we know is we’ve created this, we’ve allowed this. Whatever this is. Here begins right thought. Here begins a re-wiring. Here begins taking action and jumping in the pilot seat, to get our booties into clear skies and towards our ultimate destination.

With right thought, we can and will re-shape what we know ourselves to be in our true nature. A simple re-minding the mind to be in a mindful place — consciously creating with our divine spark through the doings and actions of our body — is all one big co-creative effort of self-love.

Hm. We are not as simple as we might have thought.

But the answers are simple enough.

I think? Re-mind me to tell you about truth… coming next.

{Photo credit: Kristi Stout}

This is an ongoing series by Kristi Stout. Tune in weekly for the next chapter in ‘The Labyrinth’.
If her art resonates with you, and you’d like prints, contact her through her website or Facebook.


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Kristi Stout

Kristi Stout

Kristi L. Stout is an artist, mother, and lover. She considers herself a Renaissance woman, in service of Love in its many forms. It is her belief that inside each of us is our own sacred, Wild nature -- a hidden instinct that is not forgotten as much as it is dormant, like leafless trees in winter. It is the part of us that is connected to all things. A knowing without knowing. The part deep inside that understands darkness is necessary for the moon to simmer silver, and recognizes that even if you’re lost in the middle of nowhere you can always find a sacred somewhere -- like an internal compass pointing true north to your heart center. Her passion project, work in progress, is She Is Wild. You can find more of Kristi’s work here or connect with her on Facebook.
Kristi Stout