Tag Archives: Vulnerability

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Today is my birthday. And so far my best present was an insight.  It felt like when the clouds part on a grey day and you can see that the sun had been shining the whole time.

The backstory:  I fell in love with someone in the last few months.  Falling in love is funny.  One minute you like them, they’re great.  The next minute they are in your heart.  And it’s like: wait I don’t remember opening that door.  How did you get inside?  But there they are.  And suddenly you are vulnerable in a way you never agreed to be.

The second backstory: I ended it.  We were dating and he was travelling and I wanted more contact than he did.  Which was the right move for both of us.  It felt good that we could both own what we wanted and respect the other person.  I felt solid.

The current story:  We still see each other on a regular basis as we are in the same group of friends.  And the thing is: he’s still in here.  WTF.  I thought I asked him to leave.  Apparently, my heart did not get the message from my brain.  Most of the time it is fine, and the love feels like warm friendly tenderness and laughter.  Other times, it feels like sad isolation, a tightness and mopiness for his inability to give me what I want.   Or an anger at myself and my stupid heart for not being able to “let go.”

The insight:  This morning we were at breakfast together with a group of friends, joking about Will Ferrell movies and the paleo diet.  After I blew out the candle on my birthday cupcake, everyone at the table told me an intimate reflection/communication as a way to celebrate me.  And his to me was: “You have this ability to go into these high places, and that’s where I get knocked out.”  And with that short sentence, he let me know that he still feels me, even when he can’t always follow me where I want to go.

And then I saw it.  How we are like two circles in a Venn diagram, overlapping, yet pulling at the edge’s of each other’s comfort zones.

For me, he represents the ability to keep loving even when that love cannot be returned the way I want.  I am exercising my heart to be strong and robust.  One that gives without getting stuck like a sad kitten at his emotional front door, scratching to be let in.  One that stays open even when every bone in my body wants to deny that I feel anything, or make him responsible for “making” me feel this way.  And yes, this means that my tender heart gets to be cracked open in ways that don’t always feel pleasurable.  If you ask me on a bad day, I will most likely chalk this post up to a birthday sugar-overload, and play the role of a sad victim of unavailable men.

And for him, I represent being able to receive a full, open love.  He wants to shut down and close it off and kick me out of his heart.  But I know that I am still in there too.  And little by little, I can feel that he is relaxing into it, letting me love him.  And maybe he’ll never return it in the way I want.  Most likely, I won’t be the one that he throws open the doors for.  But I have my own special place inside that is still growing, and breaking up walls like shoots of grass rising through pavement.  There is a deepening.

Seeing this, I stopped seeing our current situation as a “problem.” Sure, there’s a comfort and energy that happens when two people’s circles overlap more completely.  You can draw a tight circle around yourselves and call it a relationship.  Within that space, you can create things together and maybe even plan for the future.  But there’s also a magic that happens when the circles don’t entirely overlap.  To stay connected while respecting the distance that exists between you challenges you to grow and expand. You get to experience bigger and bigger versions of love.

A Lesson in Unconditional Love

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Open Heart Meditation

 “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” — Ho’oponopono prayer

For a long time in my morning sitting meditation, I would feel spacey, and tend to fall asleep. When I tried to go inside, it felt fuzzy, ill-defined. Like I was trying really hard to look at something through wavy glasses or trying to hear something through lots of static. I felt frustrated.  I stuck with it.

Lately I noticed that my sitting meditations have become more grounded and clearer. This morning, I found my way to a very sensitive, raw, pulsating, knotted spot about a foot away from my chest, connected to my heart. It hurt, in shimmery waves of tightness down my arms. And it was angry, in big waves of gritty intensity pushing out. Most importantly, I could FEEL it – it didn’t disappear in waves of unconscious sleepiness. I stayed connected to it in meditation long after the timer went off. And then I continued to feel connected to it through my drive to work, when I suddenly had an urge to cry. Then I was crying in big sobbing tears, and yelling big yells of pain for about 15 minutes.

What did I uncover? I can only describe it as knotted-up energy of the pain of being alive. In it, there is a deep love for all the people in my life and the raw agony of all the ways in which I hold myself back from expressing that love fully in whatever form it might take (anger, compassion, joy, frustration, hurt), and instead settling for a numb niceness that denies I am feeling anything. A numb niceness that cuts me off from you. As I allowed myself to feel this agony, it would soften and turn sweet, and turn to an aching tenderness. I felt a deep forgiving towards everyone, and towards myself, because we are all undergoing this separation together and it is not our fault.

The Ho’oponopono phrase kept coming up, and touching the exact spot that hurt: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” I don’t care if being alive hurts, I want to feel it ALL so that I can really love and live in truth.

Thank you for reading. Knowing that there are people out there who read this and connect with this feeling encourages me to open my heart more.

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The Truth Will Set You Free

“The minute you withhold in a relationship, it starts to deteriorate.”  -Nicole Daedone
“We use om so we can burn off the illusion of scarcity, so you can admit you’re already full.   And not just full, but *stuffed* with abundance!  Our life is a gift to start with!”  -  Nicole Daedone

I just finished a rollercoaster of a ride. I started working with a holistic personal trainer a couple of months ago. He worked with fitness and nutrition, as well as the underlying patterns showing up in your life. I felt attracted to him from the very beginning, and the work we were doing went very deep so I was emotionally very open.

For the first part of the ride, I thought he felt the same way. It was hot. And then the rollercoaster went down, and I realized what I had been interpreting as mutual flirtation was just friendly openness and support. (Or at least, he was not consciously on the same page as me.) And my attraction to him became ugly and resentful, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed about my own desire.

So then I tried to pretend that my feelings didn’t exist. That I could will myself into letting go. I told myself I was being strong and mature and level-headed. Surprisingly, this didn’t work.  I was still secretly desiring his attention and trying to manipulate him into giving it to me. Meanwhile, I was resisting the training and growing frustrated.

Finally, this week I decided I wanted off the ride. I chose truth. I ended the training. I confessed to him that I had been attracted to him and that I wanted trust and surrender, but just not in the form of motivational speeches and diet plans. He thanked me for my honesty and vulnerability. There was a full silence, and sense of resolution and clearing. I said goodbye. I felt good. I thought that was it.

And then a day later, the final piece came through. I realized that I had actually been getting the love I wanted from him this whole time, it just didn’t look like the way I thought it should. I had been subconsciously refusing it out of a limiting belief that it wasn’t enough . . . I wasn’t enough . . . I needed more. As I let go of my attachments and stories and spoke the truth, my expectations melted, and I could appreciate this support fully. This sense of being loved gained in power and intensity, and it felt full and meaningful in its own right. I felt grateful. So my final communication to him was to let him know that his energy and caring were received. Now I feel this clean flowing of energy and peace. The ride is over, but the learning and blossoming go on.

—————-

Epilogue:  I frequently find that as a learn a new life lesson, teachings pour in that confirm and solidify my insight.  This is what happened here.  Shortly after reaching this insight, someone shared with me the following “Three Levels of Truth” structure which they based on teachings from the amazing Nicole Daedone (founder of OneTaste).

  • The truth about circumstances: who, what, when, how.
  • The truth about your internal self – the emotional reactions and feelings, the hurts and the joys, the resentments – that allows others to see you.  This kind of truth sets you free, though it might hurt other people.
  • Then there is what seems to be the deepest level of truth – the one that sets the other person free.  At this level, it’s not about what you want for yourself but about their freedom – their freedom to be who they are at their best, to live out their purpose.  It’s a place where your attachment to them is secondary to their freedom, and it might mean that you won’t get what you want from them in the short term.  Although of course, this is the only level where you yourself are truly free.  When you’re playing at this deep level, this is pure love.
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Diamond Approach: Desire is the Language of the Heart

What do you want right now?

What do you want most of all?

When you let go of worrying about whether or not you can have it, how does desire feel?

 

Last weekend, I participated in my second Diamond Approach workshop.  The approach was developed by a man named A.H. Almaas as a synthesis between spiritual and the psychological experience.  The group uses meditation and focused inquiry to help people gain a direct experiential understanding of a situation.  As a person gains direct experiential insight into a situation, their ego structure is both repaired and abandoned, so that their essential spiritual nature is more fully expressed (i.e., more LIGHT can shine through).

 

This weekend, our insight process focused around desire.  Buddhist teachings might leave one believing that ALL desire is bad.  Wanting brings suffering.  To stop suffering, stop wanting.

This weekend we explored a different, more subtle approach to desire.  Basically, some desire leads us AWAY from ourselves.  We desire things because we feel deficient in ourselves.  We crave things because we are seeking to not feel something.  We desire things to give us a sense of self.  This is the type of craving that Buddhism counsels against.

But there is another kind of desire.  The kind that is borne out of love.  The kind that rises in your chest, bubbly and yellow like champagne.  The kind that feels so good to allow, you want to sink your toes into it.  And this second kind of desire arises from a sense of fullness, not deficiency.

This second type of desire is a natural activity of the heart.  It is the heart’s GPS.  Follow these desires, and you will find the things in life that affirm you.  And even if you never get the things you desire, the sheer pleasure of loving them, wanting them, is what the heart wants and needs to feel alive.  This type of desire is a sacred movement, profound in and of itself, regardless of whether it is actually fulfilled.

One type of desire brings you closer to yourself, one takes you away. 

How do you distinguish one type of desire from another?  You can tell by how it makes you feel.  Let’s say you crave chocolate.  Do you feel happy and excited about the deliciousness of the treat, a pure and innocent joy in this treat?  Enjoy the pleasure of wanting, free from any attachment to actually eating the chocolate.  Or do you feel an anxious craving, and a gnawing sense that you are ignoring what is really bothering you?  If that is the case, then dig deeper to see what you really want.

So all weekend, this group of people, slowly at first, and then in a joyful rush, shared all of the things that we desired truly, with our hearts.  When we let go of whether or not we could actually have them, the energy shifted from one of frustration or tentativeness, to one of freedom and play.  We desired fun and travel and lovely work and intimate conversations and hot sex (as a seventy-year old woman gamely volunteered).

We were like children who had not yet learned the harsh rules of the world, and were free to love everything we wanted to love.

And we also discussed the things that kept us from our desires.

The most poignant scene of the weekend for me was the inquiry with a man in his late 50s.  He recalled that when he was a little boy, he loved women.  Worshipped them.  He could vividly recall sneaking behind a girl’s desk when he was just starting school (6 or 7 years old), so that he could breath in her scent and stare at the pattern on her dress.  But he quickly learned, because he was brought up Catholic, that such desires were a sin.  So for most of his life, he has had a tortured relationship to women.  He buried his desires because they were bad.

As this man recalled the bright red and white check pattern of the girl’s dress that he so loved over forty years ago, tears streamed down his face.  Together, we sat in silence, letting him cry, sharing the beauty of this innocent desire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Keeping it Real: Know Your Ego’s Defenses!

hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Are there things in your life you are not allowing yourself to fully see?  Are you keeping them tucked away on the edge of your awareness where you can’t feel them?  What would happen if you let those things come fully into your awareness?

To live in a manner fully consistent with our truth, we must confront reality as it IS.  Not as we would like it to be.  Not as we imagine it might be some day.  What. are. you. feeling. and. experiencing. in. your. life. right. now.  There is pain there, and vulnerability, yes.  But guess what else is there?  YOUR LIFE.   True reality is that shaky, vulnerable place where you actually FEEL alive.  It is that open, spacious freedom where you realize you can actually ask for what you want, that it is okay to desire, that you are allowed to be human, and true love and connection are possible.  There is an incredible amount of vibrant energy there.

How do we live from this shaky open, true place?  If you are like most people, you have become so skilled at escaping reality that you do not even realize that you are doing it.  Our wonderful egos have protected our spirits in various ingenious ways.  When we were young and our egos were developing, these defenses helped us survive.  Now that we are grown, these same defenses constrict our awareness and distort our perception.

To be able to unravel our egos’ work and meet reality head-on, it helps to become familiar with the ego’s tricks.  With assistance from a book I am reading now, The Inward Arc: Healing in Psychotherapy and Spirituality by Frances Vaughan, here is a wonderful list of ego defenses.  Read them, know them, and learn to recognize when you are doing them.  As you become familiar with the ways you struggle to gain control OVER life, you will naturally relax these defenses and gain more clarity.  (I find that it is possible to sense the ego kicking in at an energetic level, a slight escaping or lessening of intensity.  This is part (all?) of what we are beginning to notice when we sit in meditation.)

Woo!  What a rush.  When you can SEE the truth, you can LIVE from the truth.  Like plunging into a cold pool, and laughing because the water is shocking but oh so refreshing . . .

EGO DEFENSES: COMMON WAYS TO ESCAPE REALITY

Denial (“Everything is fine.”)
Simply, the blank refusal to acknowledge what you do not want to see or feel.  When unconscious, you will not be aware that you are in denial.  All you will be aware of is that you think things are “fine” or “manageable” or you “can handle it” (often, denial can manifest as a weird insistence on your own strength to handle things).  You numb yourself out to your own pain or destructive patterns.  (Positive affirmations can work to increase denial.)

Projection/Blame (“It is THEIR Fault…”)
The inability to accept a part of your own consciousness, so you project it out onto other people.  Because you deny your own anger for example, others appear overly angry to you, and their anger might feel overwhelming or intense.  You then assume that the “cause” of your discomfort is the other person, rather than owning and accepting that the original discomfort comes from within.

Shame/Repression (“It is MY fault. . . “)
You are aware that you are feeling a certain way (angry, sad, vulnerable), but you do not think that it is safe or okay for you to actually be feeling that way, so you bury it.  Instead of just feeling that feeling, you feel shame and low self-worth.  I think of shame/repression as the flip side of blame.  Instead of pushing the energy OUT towards to the other, you pull it INTO yourself.  Either way, you are escaping the full brunt of reality.

Reaction Formation (“I’ll do it first.”)
To avoid being hurt, you become what you fear.  If what you are actually experiencing is a deep fear of abandonment, you might avoid this feeling by becoming really good at leaving people quickly.  If you are afraid of aggression and violence, you might become a bully to avoid feeling your fear and pain around this issue.  I am rubber and you are glue . . .

Rationalization (“Well maybe I didn’t actually feel that way . . .”)
You explain and justify whatever thoughts/feelings/action you judge to be unacceptable.  You feel something in the moment, but later on, you talk yourself out of it.  If you felt hurt or angry, you convince yourself that you did not have a “reason” to feel that way.  You move an intense feeling from your HEART to your HEAD, where you can dissect it.  In the process, you avoid processing your feelings and actions as they actually manifested.  (If we consistently cling to spiritual “knowledge” that does not yet exist at a heart level, we can rationalize away reality and actually increase our separation from life.  “We are all one . . .” “I forgive you, because we are all love . . . ”  There is a reason why this often comes off as inauthentic!)

Regression (“I am so hurt!  Rescue me!”)
You feel pain/anger, but instead of taking ownership of it, you make the other person responsible for fixing it.  You don’t recognize the ways that you are creating the conditions that allow this pain to arise.  In a sense, you project your own power onto the other person because it is too scary to recognize it in your self.  (As Marianne Williamson says: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”)

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Transparent Communication– teachings from Thomas Huebl

This morning, I participated in a free 75 minute talk by Thomas Huebl, sponsored through the SHIFT network.   For those who are not familiar with the SHIFT network, check-it-check-it out.  It is a hub of conscious teachers who are offering courses and lectures online.

I had not heard of Thomas Huebl before, but the SHIFT network sent me an email about the talk.  My attention was caught by the fact that part of his teachings focused on Transparent Communication.  More and more I am realizing that my spiritual path lies in embodied spirituality–not how to transcend, but how to bring more presence and clarity to my every day existence, with an emphasis on conscious communication and interpersonal relations.  So I was very intrigued.  Although somewhat put off by his Jesus-like flowing locks.

Despite his obvious need for a makeover, Thomas ended up being an intense and obviously highly evolved teacher.  His wisdom and clarity were magnetic, and kept me engrossed for the full 75 minutes.  He talks about working at an energetic level as well as an intellectual one, and I could definitely feel that.  I felt incredibly charged.   To share a bit of what he discussed, here are the two main questions driving Transparent Communication:

1) How can I live my life so that my heart and presence stay available for the next moment instead of getting “stuck” or “caught” in past?  For example, if we have an interaction and something about it throws me off, I will still be processing it even when the conversation is over.  That makes me less available for whatever comes next.  To be 100% available for whatever is arising in any given moment, we need to learn to allow experiences to flow through us cleanly, rather than contracting around them.
Why do we contract, and how can we stay present?  When we leave a conversation feeling unsettled it is not because the other person made us feel this way.  It is because we did not want to feel what we were feeling.  If we can stay present to ourselves and not abandon ourselves when we experience difficult things, we can stay present to the other and not abandon them when those difficult feelings arise.  The other person no longer poses a threat to us because we are willing to experience discomfort.   We must allow ourselves to get comfortable with feeling discomfort so that we can find freedom.  (love this)
2)  How can I not only express myself, but feel into your reality so I can understand how my communication is being received?  This requires enlarging your awareness so you can not just empathize with another, but actually feel into their experience.  As you become more sensitive to the reality of the other person, you can communicate more effectively because you understand not just what you want to say, but how to say it so that it can actually be heard (or realize that it cannot be heard).  This ability to feel in to a reality different than ours is also the basis for true connection and exchange.
After the call, I took some of what he said and applied it to a conversation I was having with a friend.  Before, I had been dancing around my own discomfort with what she had been saying about her interactions with another friend.  I was worried that she was being judgmental.  After the talk, I faced and accepted my own discomfort.  I found a new found freedom to express myself to her in a direct manner (before I had been trying to avoid my discomfort by working on getting her to change her views).  I told my friend I could listen to her if she was willing to take responsibility for her own role in the situation.   But I was not willing to listen to her if the goal of the conversation was to blame the other friend, because I did not believe that was productive.  To my surprise, she readily shifted into discussing the conflict as a reflection of her own limitations, rather than what this other friend was “doing” to her.  Once she made that shift, I not only understood what she was trying to say, I truly respected what she was saying.  We ended up having an amazing discussion that helped both of us gain clarity and insight.  I physically felt nourished.
I felt so fired up about the teachings of Thomas Huebl that I signed up for a nine-month course of his advanced teachings through the SHIFT network!!  I am excited to go deeper into his work, and will definitely share them on this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

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Diamond Approach Weekend: Open Heart

What does it mean to have an open heart?

This weekend I am in a Diamond Approach retreat.  Diamond Approach combines insight meditation with western-style psychological reflection.  Each retreat centers around a theme. This weekend’s theme is the heart.  If you have been following my blog or know me, you know that the heart is central to my spiritual path.  So this theme taps right into central questions for me: how to be true to my higher self in a difficult world.

I believe in love.  I believe in openness.  I believe in vulnerability.  I believe in authenticity.  I have found joy in staying open and affirming everything I hold true.

How do I hold true to these beliefs when I am met with closed hearts?  What do I do when I give love and it is not reciprocated?

What this weekend is teaching me is that sometimes that my commitment to staying open results in me skipping over situations where I feel hurt, and not acknowledging that my heart wants to close.  Sometimes I shave off parts of myself in order to allow the other person to feel comfortable.  Sometimes I keep things happy and safe to encourage the other person to meet me, instead of being honest about my own feelings of disillusionment.

I don’t know where this insight takes me.  I know it doesn’t take me into the polar opposite of where I am coming from.  The answer is not to swing into recriminations and harshness.  The answer is not to hide my love.  The answer is not to go unconscious and “act out” my hurt and anger in thoughtless ways.

There is a middle ground that I still need to find.  I know that it involves being able to feel free to express anger and hurt in healthy and spontaneous ways.  I know it involves being okay with alienating people if need be.  I know it involves saying NO to others if that is what it takes to say YES to me.

I don’t think I am all of the way there yet.  The line between openness and accommodation is difficult to trace. But I am grateful for the space to explore these questions in a supportive community.  I welcome any insights from people who are working through similar issues in their own lives. What situation is causing you to confront this issue most clearly?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s OK to Be Sad: How and Why to Experience Difficult Emotions

eggshells

I wrote this last Sunday, but didn’t post it until now…enjoy. xoxo Nicole

Today I feel sad.  Normally, I might be moving too fast to notice it.  I might miss it because I am busy skipping from one event to the next.  But today is a slow, grey, Easter Sunday afternoon, and I don’t have any plans for the rest of the day.  I am purposefully not turning on my TV or calling friends.  Instead, I am meditating and writing and allowing myself to feel what is coming up in my heart.

We don’t usually just allow ourselves to just feel sad.  We tend to feel like we have to do something to lift ourselves out of this state:  we go for a walk, talk a bath, drink a glass of wine, re-read a positive book.  Maybe we call a friend and discuss the situation until we have figured out a “solution.”  When we feel better, we might even congratulate ourselves on our great self-care skills.   We assume that we are doing well when we have stopped feeling these negative emotions–the faster we can get out of them, the better we are doing.   This belief in the power of positive thought has been further exacerbated by the misunderstood teachings of the Law of Attraction (i.e., the belief that to manifest what you want you must be constantly joyful).

Some of you might immediately be thinking:  ugh–I don’t want to turn into a mess or wallow in the things that get me down.  But this sense of “wallowing” is not due to the emotion itself, but the unskilful way it is processed.  There is another, more skillful way to experience difficult emotions.

The skillful way is to be able to experience pain without fully identifying with it.  Thus, your awareness is large enough to allow room for the difficult emotion AND maintain contact with your fundamental power, peace, and confidence.   You can stay in touch with joy even as you allow yourself to feel sad.  You can feel strong and secure even as you experience vulnerability.  You can feel connected and lonely at the same time.

The best way to develop this enlarged awareness is meditation.  When you meditate, you develop your ability to stay grounded no matter what your mind or heart tosses up at you.  As you practice, you expand your capacity for presence.  Over time, you can handle more rocky stuff without needing to check-out, go unconscious, or otherwise distract yourself from the intensity of experience.  You can use this capacity to experience difficult emotions during your daily life without becoming overwhelmed or confused.

So, okay, we can experience difficult emotions more skillfully.  Why would we want to stay present for difficult emotions?  Why shouldn’t we be practicing getting rid of them, or transforming them into positive ones?

Because something important and valuable happens when we fully experience difficult emotions.  A lot of difficult emotions are tied up around our desire for life to be different than it actually is.  We want to be somewhere else, doing something else, with someone else.  When we avoid those emotions, we avoid directly experiencing life on its own terms. We live partly in our dreams and hopes.  This dream-world might be more comfortable, but its protection becomes our jail.  We lock ourselves up inside the belief that things needs to be a certain way for us to be happy.

When we experience difficult emotions, we come face to face with the way things are.  Even  though facing reality may hurt, the world does not end.  Instead, all of the energy we were using to avoid pain is loosed.   Instead of struggling and fighting the emotion and the circumstances that gave it birth, we relax.  We can LET things be the way they are, AND be happy.  Yes, we may have to wade through some pain and sadness on the way, but we are no longer afraid to experience them.  We acknowledge our pain and vulnerability with a soft, gentle compassion, not with fear or rejection.

With this softening, a new space opens up inside of us.  It is a new place for life to flow, to move, to breath.  Nothing has been solved or changed, and yet all is well.  This well-being is not a mere “belief” in the abundance and goodness of life–it is an energetic death of a closed/constricted consciousness (things must be so!) and the birth of a spacious awareness (surrendering to what is).  How appropriate for Easter Sunday that I find myself writing about allowing ourselves to die, so that we can be reborn.

 

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Breaking a Spell

the empty room yawns,
and sucks this moment in
to its belly, an oceanic pulse
that booms below
that gives nothing to hold

i am washed

up and returned
to the immovable space between
these watchtower walls
followed by the echoes of
yesterday’s clattering sounds

the silence chases me and i
am chasing something i
already have, impossible like
explaining the color blue
painted on these walls
impossible like forgetting
i am here when
i don’t even know
where i am

the quiet muffles everything

and yet these words
form themselves
out of nothing
and they stretch
the silence taut
like a bubble blown
as big as the world
as the moon
as my heart
until it all explodes
and the cool night air
rushes in, sharp and clear

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How do I Stop Thinking and Feeling? Answer, You Don’t!

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from a higher perspective, there is beauty and peace in a hurricane

 

“We have to make a relationship with our emotional energy. Usually, when we speak of expressing our energies, we are more concerned with the expression than with the energy itself, which seems to be rushing too fast. We are afraid the energy will overwhelm us, so we try to get rid of it through action. However, once you develop a harmonious relationship with your energy, then you can actually express it, and the style of expression becomes very sane, right to the point.” — Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

 

One of the biggest misconceptions about Buddhism is that it is about getting rid of things: thoughts, feelings, the ego.  It is not.  If you focus your efforts on getting rid of things, all you do is spend even more energy caught up in the very thing you are trying to throw out.    At first you might start out angry about something.  If you try and resist that anger, all you end up with is anger AND guilt about being angry.  If you try and make a thought go away, all you end up with is a new thought: I should not be thinking about that thing (which you then immediately think about again).

It’s like those Chinese finger toys–the harder you pull, the tighter it holds you.

What you can do is develop a higher level of awareness so you can watch these thoughts and emotions arise, rather than identify with them.  I think about the process of disidentification very simply.  The thoughts/emotions are visitors. I stay present and watch/hear them do their thing.  I keep an open heart and a grounded presence, even as I feel/experience anger, sadness, mental jumpiness, ect.  I give them my full attention, but I do NOT let them live inside me and start pulling my strings.  And after a while, they run out of energy.  Then, I let them go.

So the idea is not to get rid of stuff.  The idea is to practice operating from another level that doesn’t get caught in the drama.   Actually, our thoughts and feelings can be important and valued guides.  If anything, I am working towards becoming even more open to my feelings and thoughts.   This helps me develop kindness towards myself and others, and grow more spacious and grounded internally.

It also helps relationships.  The more deeply I allow myself to feel sadness and pain around something, the less I need to create a story about why I feel this way (he is to blame, I am to blame, she is to blame).  Sadness is just sadness.  Anger is just anger.  Both of them are just strong energy moving through me.  Just feel them without pushing them away.

If , after feeling my emotions, it seems appropriate to express them, I can do so with a clear mind, taking full ownership of what I am feeling (see my last post on non-violent communication for more about owning your emotions).  People are much more receptive to you when you come from this place.  As Chogyam says, you can be sane, right to the point.  If you hurl your emotions at someone and say: “This is your fault!” you can’t be too surprised when they throw that ball of sh*t right back at you.  If you can approach someone and say: “I felt really hurt when you did this.” then you have created a safe space for them to empathize.

So, bottom line:  don’t try and get rid of your feelings and thoughts.  Just work on developing a better, saner relationship with them.

What is your relationship with your emotions?  Do you believe them?  Do you act on them?  Do you try and ignore them becuase they scare you?  Or are you strong enough to let feelings move through you without getting confused?

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