The long corridor of Metta

- through Francois Leclercq

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Welcome, dear readers, to another month of taking put out of the meditation cushion and into the world.

Last month's article by Metta Tree Medicine, found me ready to spend volunteering in an ancient forest. However, sometimes when the Dharma closes one door before opening another, there can be a very long corridor between the two!

This particular hallway lasted over a month.

In fact, the warning from my new herbal doctor friend that our host was laughing at my put my housekeeping skills behind my back made me laugh. However, spending the next month observing how manipulative our host's behavior could be, coupled with the increased recreational drug use of my fellow volunteers, was no laughing matter.

The practice of meditation is meant to help us see things as they really are. However, what if that makes you the only one with your eyes open to a given situation?

And so began a sometimes painful and lonely corridor where I saw people I had learned to love suffering under the “care” of someone who loved their suffering.

I take people as I find them and believe that most of us do our best to avoid harming others. But I have enough life experience to know that some people also go out of their way to deliberately harm others.

The term "narcissistic" is often used these days to describe anyone whose behavior we don't like or understand. I sometimes laugh to myself that this is just an adult version of the playground statement that someone “smells”. However, what was slowly starting to dawn on me was that the increase in recreational drug use around me and the increase in my household chores was due to the team being energy-intensive by our host.

Self-help author Dr Christine Northrup coined a term for the bad smell that no amount of cooking or burning incense or actual cleaning on my part could dispel, in her book Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath's Guide to Avoiding Draining Relationships and Restoring Your Health and Energy (Hay House, 2018). Simply put, it's estimated that one in five people enjoy feeding on the life energy of others, much like a cat playing with a mouse.

Often charming and caring at first, these wolves in sheep's clothing use gathered emotional data to control, manipulate, triangulate and hurt the other four out of five of us who often miss red flags because it's so good to be. finally seen and heard. Once we have provided them with enough drama and life force, the rejection phase can begin.

Back in the ancient forest which was fittingly unrolling its springtime carpet of wild garlic, I was the first of our core team to be marked for the slaughter. My guess? My put the practice of meditation has immunized me with too much self-love and peace to be very tasty.

It was subtle at first, with occasional digs or fake gossip to play us off against each other, or confusing instructions to trip me up in front of the group. They then escalated to outright ignoring me when I'm alone or in group chats, or inviting everyone but me to join them for a drink in the pub.

Most were laughable playground antics that I could genuinely ignore or avoid by asking others if they had said such and such a thing and giving them permission to ask me the same thing whenever they had doubts. Any reader who has attended an all-girls school knows these mean-girl slippery tactics.

One of the funniest cases was being accused of stealing our host's chocolate in front of the group. I calmly walked over to the shelf where I had put it precisely so that it wouldn't disappear overnight from the common kitchen table, which annoyed them to no end. They then broke it, offered everyone in the room a piece by name except me, and placed what was left in the middle of the table. I smiled, thanked them for sharing, and reached out to taste what was left.

Our host then started to create a false sense of scarcity by, for example, blocking the expense card when we tried to shop ourselves after they delayed an online store of essentials. They deliberately dropped their discarded clothes and shoes in an otherwise tidy common area and used each other's vulnerabilities to trigger them. This led to an increase in alcohol and drug use among my teammates – our host often using both without ever contributing – followed by several “low days” of people doubting their own sanity, and an air of general suspicion and hyper-vigilance replacing our normally fun and supportive camaraderie.

Knowing that the drama of a showdown was exactly what they were aiming for, I simply refused to play along rather than give them some of my energy. Instead, I supplemented all the energy shortages they created for the team with more putin the form of magical baked goods from all the ingredients still available, simple kindnesses and many heartfelt compliments.

Some days this situation felt like a totally invisible giver versus taker tug of war that only I could feel. All I could realistically do until an exit strategy became clear was hold on by occupying the common space under the guise of quietly washing dishes at the kitchen sink – sometimes more than one time ! Or assemble a puzzle at the kitchen table to intercept any ongoing energy predation with a comment or question.

I have to admit there were times when I wondered if I was imagining all of this. How does our lovely team, as described in Metta snow daysfade in ce in less than a month? And then I remembered a throwaway remark our host had made when I arrived in November: All the teams had imploded after three months. This was no doubt deliberate and explained both the high staff turnover and why the company was still run by volunteers and barely breaking even after seven years. It dawned on me that everyone (except me, as I had replaced someone at the last minute) had been handpicked for their vulnerabilities, whether it was PTSD from military service or a recent painful relationship breakup. or a reluctance to fit into a more traditional workplace or just generally be at a crossroads in life. So many valid reasons to support and strengthen its staff, but not to feed on it.

But this activity of protecting others could only work for so long, and I couldn't say more. Heartbreakingly, when I asked the fellow volunteer who I thought was most at risk why I was suddenly being targeted, and warned him that I hear us all talking regularly to a third party, they really couldn't understand what I was saying and even defended our host's behavior saying that he was doomed to become indifferent, with so many comings and goings and abandonments by former volunteers. When I tried to tell another, who was visibly shaking after being triggered, why he was shaking, he admitted he noticed our host addressed everyone differently, but was then promised some exclusive tickets to a taping of his favorite TV show which apparently only our host could secure.

Watching grown adults being bluntly cared for like this triggered the protective mama bear in me, and for the first time in years, I had to get my anger under control. Something had to give other than me.

All four windows suddenly opened to let in some fresh air until an exit appeared.

The first window was a local volunteer who helped out once a week and – with that mental distance – also picked up the occasional puff of bad smell. I told them part of what I had seen, and they corroborated my impressions. All it took was a silent offer of a hug one particular morning when they noticed I was taking care of everyone but no one was stopping to take care of me.

The second window was the reappearance of another volunteer, who had left the week I arrived. Sensing that they would be the next target after my eventual release, I told them what to expect and warned them not to share any personal information that could be used against them.

The third window asked for the same energy healer friend who helped locate and seal a parasitic energy portal during my last placement - as described in The harvest of Metta– to feel if something similar was happening in the forest, as I felt like I was constantly drawing energy water here too. Interestingly, she identified a specific person rather than a portal as the energy sink this time. She urged me to leave as soon as possible and to believe that I would be more useful to others by enjoying my life elsewhere.

And the fourth window was to be honest with a potential next placement about my concerns for the team and my reasons for moving on, only to be surprised that they and dozens of others were similarly shunned by my host before!

When the date dominoes finally lined up to help with spring lambing at a nearby farm, I could hardly believe the poetic justice. Blessing myself and the team, sitting back and seeing with eyes wide open what was really going on, and being honest with myself and others made the month-long hallway bearable.

Interestingly, the returning volunteer whom I feared would become the next sacrificial lamb, was asked to leave a few days before me. And then, after blinding me for weeks, I suddenly got a text from our host asking me to call. As I walked out of the common area for more privacy, I wondered how best to announce my departure in three days. Turns out they were in the hospital with their son and decided it was a good time to ask me when I was planning on leaving.

I silently tapped into the Dharma for this outright confirmation of our host's addiction to drama and for the perfect transition to my exit.

“Thank you for saving me a call. . .”

Spending the summer at two neighboring farms known to our host had a predictable effect as appearances and social status mean everything to energy vampires. They suddenly became very polite and did not return to the woods until my evicted colleague and I left a few days later.

And so, dear readers, while this past month has been anything but peaceful on the outside, and has triggered my own mama-bear buttons on when and when not to protect others from harm that I recognized, put and authenticity escorted me down the hallway between an old reality that I was ready to move past and a new reality that had yet to emerge.

I wish us all the same fresh start as obsolete energy sinks of all kinds crumble around us, and we wait for new, healthier and more innocent realities to emerge.

Or for put-morph the lyrics of the Living Color song “Solace of You”:

When it hurts to be there
Where no one will care
I have the consolation of

Frustrated by people's lies
But I keep trying
I have the consolation of

When I can't think straight
And there's no escape
I have the comfort of metta

I gotta go back inside where it started
Back to top
'Cause that's where my heart is

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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