Yesterday, like every day, I found myself in a conversation with a recovering addict. I was asked about my personal "strategies" for meeting suffering and painful situations and how to get to the "Other side." The question appeared to be asked from the heart and not the head. Ask, and it's given. That said, perhaps sharing my approach might resonate with others and be helpful. We each have unique ways of coping, and by sharing mine, I invite you to consider, explore, and possibly adapt aspects of it that resonate with your experience that allow you to know greater happiness instead frustration, anxiety, fear, or perhaps sadness.
At times, my mind is akin to a turbulent sea, agitated, hurt, frustrated, and in a state of suffering. In such moments, rather than distancing, running away, or avoiding the churn and turbulence, I lean into it. I turn my authentic self towards these crunchy thoughts and feelings instead of attempting to 'fix' them or push them away.
My approach is simple, clear, direct action rather than being passive. I allow these feelings to exist and acknowledge their presence, moving in and through me. I don't suppress them but rather immerse myself in their presence, while keeping my attention and awareness centered on the rhythm of my breath, particularly in the area just below my belly button in the lower abdomen.
A key principle in this practice is that I refrain from "super-sizing" or censoring my internal dialogue. This is my way of taking care of aspects of self that need befriending. Why? Because they are aspects of me that can be scared and in need of self-parenting with mindful caring. Pretending that away has never really helped me. In the stillness of my meditation, I honor the practice of maintaining civility and kindness with myself. It's essential to remember that the truths our minds present to us do not necessarily reflect our authentic nature's truths. Negative thoughts and feelings may arise, but these do not dictate the need to be harsh with ourselves or others, despite societal conditioning that might suggest otherwise. To be a self-punishing machine or punching bag isn't self-care or self-compassion.
Occasionally, I even vocalize affirmations to myself, such as, "It's okay not to have an answer... It's okay to feel upset... it's okay to feel sad... It's okay to remember that I am a human, not a spiritual or recovery superhero..." The act of accepting our present situation and ourselves just as we are can be incredibly liberating. "I am here with you in this suffering, holding space with you, without needing a specific outcome... It all hurts until it doesn't."
This practice may appear counterintuitive, but it stems from the understanding that the mind constantly grapples with varying degrees of real and imagined suffering. These mental reactions to life often contrast starkly with our authentic nature, the Universal Identity of Loving Presence. It may be hard to swallow, but close observation of the mind reveals this undeniable reality. Attempts to deny or push away the suffering have, in my experience, only amplified it.
The healthier approach for me personally has been traversing through these thoughts and feelings, not trying to bypass them. Rather than trying to take the expressway or bypass around the city of self... I've learned that there are sometimes advantages to making... making... making... the time to patiently drive through.
By following this practice, I find that my mind, heart, and actions often align and journey in the same direction. This journey isn't always graceful or pretty. And while some may argue that it needs to be, I believe it's acceptable for us to be somewhat clumsy, occasionally stumbling forward in life. This is my personal trek of unfolding recovery and healing, perhaps akin to a Sherpa navigating a mountainous path known as the self.
I share my journey with the hope that it may inspire you to go deeper into your own inner truth and potentially offer you directions on your path, allowing you to go "Straight on" instead of traveling in circles within yourself.
一Fearing Less, We Open Our Hearts More