The Ghost Chasing Practice is part of the Personal Practice.
The Physical Practice, the Ghost Chasing Practice and the Connection Practice are of equal importance
Ghost Chasing is an umbrella name for the quest of understanding your unconscious behavior and its origins and eventually adopting better habits and attitudes than the ones you originally inherited.
Ghost Chasing is basically exploring your mind and your past, digging out the dirt.
Make your own recovery the first priority of your Life.
— Robin Norwood
Ghost Chasing never stops. That is because there is always a finer grain to look at. True, the beginning is so rough and emotions are moved in such huge chunks that it seems that digging further is not that useful. Yet it is when we don’t see any use for it that usually a new Big Moment comes up.
There are many specific Karma Fixing exercises, though, besides the generic work. You may want to explore a specific topic that is a major concern at the moment. Like your relationship with money, people, health, etc.
The main tool I found and recommend for such task are the Morning Pages. This Practice comes directly from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way and she deserves high praises for her work helping people uncovering their own truths. The Artist Way is definitely a must read.
The Morning Pages is a simple exercise consisting in a set amount of writing, just tossing your thoughts on the paper, first thing every morning. Julia recommends 3 pages but any set amount that would take between 30 to 45 minutes to write will do. She actually never said how big the pages were.
There is an imposed minimum of writing but no maximum ever.
This exercise is a life changing experience, so if you are not really into truly changing your life, it will bother you quickly and you will easily find good reasons to give up.
You can also seek understanding of your psyche by doing simple exercises, like listing 100 reasons why you like ice cream or what you remember of a person in 1,000 words.
A true Ghost Chasing exercise has two essential components
- Physical action must be taken, usually in the form of writing or drawing or crafting
- A goal must be set and met. 3 pages, 100 list items, 1,000 words
Anything else is mental masturbation.
I shall become a Master in this Art only after a great deal of Practice.
— Erich Fromm
Physical action must be taken so the thoughts are transformed, transmuted, translated. A change of state must occurs. Thoughts laid down on paper are captured and cannot retreat back in the limbo of the brain. But thoughts that are staying in the mind can be victim of distraction and self-delusion.
Compare going shopping with a written list or a mental list. A written list will protect you against omission and temptation but your mental list will change as you shop because the mind is very flexible and subject to external influences (and supermarkets are designed to take advantage of that).
The seemingly impossible to meet goal has its virtue as well. Filling up 3 pages (or 100 reasons or 1,000 words) is not easy and quite often we are stuck midway. If this were an open ended exercise, the mind would easily give up that task and jump to the first distraction available, providing you with plenty of reasons why the exercise can be considered finished. With a set goal, you must come up with something to write (or draw, or craft), and usually what get spilled after that point is all the things that you did not want to see. The mental block was the way your own mind was defending itself against your intrusion.
Julia Cameron has also published a companion workbook with great exercises to do as you read the main book. Also a great recommendation. Among them she suggests the following:
- List 5 imaginary lives you would have loved to live.
- Describe yourself at 80, write a letter to your present self.
- Remember yourself at 8, write a letter to your present self.
- List 20 things you enjoy doing but did not do for a long time, with the date of last occurrence.
Many authors will provide you with lists of Karma Fixing exercises, sometimes with a specific goal in mind (money, relationships, etc.)
In a Money Karma Fixing exercise, for instance, you could list 10 Family Money Mantras, (what people around you were saying about money) and you would quickly discover how these attitudes actually influenced your present relationship with money.
It is highly recommended to follow someone else’s instructions and guidance.
Remember the rules of Survival. You are trying to unsettle your own mind. Your mind spent its entire existence building a Personal Narrative, Preconceived ideas, Beliefs, so to make who you are, for ill or for good.
Do not think it is going to let you undo its life work without fighting back. It needs to survive too and while one part of your mind will try to explore, another part will feed you illusions and distractions to deter you from being successful at it.
Besides, because we are already blind to Reality, you can only see what your own mind is letting you see, through the use of its Filters and Beliefs, it is very likely that what really needs to be addressed will be invisible to you. You need someone else perspective to ask you annoying questions, otherwise you would feed yourself only easy and comfortable questions, even if they seem legitimately annoying. (mental masturbation again)
Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear the most.
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Mind is a powerful Survival and Problem Solving machine, and if its problem becomes being under introspection, it will do whatever it takes to survive that attack. Believe me. Which is also making the Self Recovery job a multi layer job. Quite often when we found a satisfying answer to our inquiries, there is more to discover.
Also, when a problem is identified, its real life solution may not always be what you think it is. For instance, say you find yourself bitching about your spouse over and over through your introspection work. Once you have excluded murder, divorce may seem the most appropriate answer but maybe this damaged relationship is only the symptom of deeper personal troubles and a more constructive approach such as being less selfish, more patient, more attentive could be the real resolution.
Be courageous and go get the questions that would bother you.
There are plenty of literature on the subject, both online and in print. You can find a lot of it for free or for a symbolic amount of money.
One word of caution and a recommendation.
- There is plenty of poorly designed work out there from misguided, incompetent or greedy authors, so shop around.
- Trust your guts. Don’t like the cover? Don’t like the typeface? Too hard to read?
- Trust your guts. Love the author? Love the pictures? Fun to read? Love the video?
Go for it.
Yet one great way to get to the right questions is the Morning Pages. Because the Pages are done early in the morning before any other activities and you are still in that semi dream like state, still in touch with your unconscious. You are another person. As soon as you start interacting with the World, the store front version of you is waking up and starts blocking intrusion or being distracted.
What comes up over and over in the Morning Pages is what is between you and your personal success.