It’s Halloween and we’re used to seeing fantastical costumes from the beautiful to the ghastly and ghoulish. But it would seem that nowadays we have images of zombies with us all year round, judging from the immense popularity of the T.V. series “The Walking Dead” and its recent spin-off “Fear the Walking Dead.”
I normally don’t watch T.V. and particularly not violent shows, but from time to time I will check things out on Netflix to catch up on my pop culture references. I started with episode 1 of TWD and soon found myself binge watching it over the winter. Despite the fact I find the images in this show to be super disturbing, there was something truly addictive about this series, and I had to ween myself off it!
As the ads for the new season of the show this fall and its spin-off started to bombard NYC, I started to meditate deeper on the meaning of these stories and why they are so powerful. There is the fascination with a post-apocalyptic world, the fight to stay alive under the most stressful circumstances, and the psychological exploration of what would happen to ordinary people when faced with such a situation.
But when I dig deeper, I think the Zombie theme is such a powerful one because it explores human beings that are animated but uninhabited by any personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, life force or light. And I think we have, at one point or another, experienced that within ourselves.
There’s an episode on TWD in which the character Michonne, having found herself wandering alone after her group was forced out of their make-shift home in a prison, starts to loose all hope or desire to live. Then she comes upon a “walker” that looks like her. This image jolts her back to life with fear and repulsion. She looks at it, it looks at her, and she takes out her long Katane sword and swipes off its head. Through this act her will to live returns and she is shortly reunited with the living people of her group.
In the spirit of Halloween, and all that is scary, ugly, gory, disgusting and dark, I propose the following sounding exercise! (If you dare!):
Find a quiet space where you can stand in a corner. Light a single candle and turn off all the lights. Stare into the candle flame for a bit, breathing deeply and letting go of other thoughts. Allow your eyes to dance with and follow the candle flame. When you feel calm, strong and at peace, gently close your eyes. With your eyes closed, invite into your imagination a zombified version of yourself. Imagine yourself as a “Walker” with silver vacant eyes, a shuffling awkward walk, and a mouth that hangs open with drool falling out, unable to speak but just to utter nasty grunting and hissing sounds. Now pretend you are inhabiting the walker (and have some fun with this!) shuffling around the room, hungry to eat living things and making those snarly hissing open-mouthed sounds.
Then drop all this and come back into a state of neutral. After coming into complete stillness, now imagine the image of your walker self right in front of you. See all the dead parts of you – and the shadow version of you. Then, when you’re ready, imagine drawing out a curved Katane sword and slashing that image while making some fun whooshing sounds. Imagine that Walker falling and the body turning to ash that then disintegrates.
This exercise can be viewed as good ole’ Halloween fun. It can also be a powerful exercise for scaring you awake and having a good look directly at those parts of you that you have allowed to go numb. It brings up some important questions: In what part of your life are you living like a zombie – not connecting to your inner light but just shuffling through the day to day feeling disconnected and even dead inside? What would it take to slay these parts of yourself and thus awaken your will to fight on, to live fully to create your life with passion?