There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by Rumi:
“Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.”
Here is yet another quote that points us to the reality of what most of us habitually try to avoid or react to. The way to emotional freedom is through “being with” and embracing that which is painful or difficult in us rather that “trying to fix”, push away, or run from it.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with trying “to fix” things. Without this ability you wouldn’t have the seat you’re sitting in, the computer you’re looking at, or the clothes you’re wearing (if you’re wearing them). Most the time we’re not even aware we’re trying to avoid it.
However, when it comes to our emotions, trying to think our way out of them is only a path of avoidance. This avoidance creates further suffering.
Think about it for a second. What happens when you try and think about becoming less anxious or depressed? You go up into your head and start swirling around about why this is happening and maybe what you can do about it. In other words, we add stress to discomfort.
Another way to look at this is to ask: Where are you not? You’re not paying attention to the reality of the moment which is this feeling, the feeling of sadness or frustration or even joy. Yes, for many of us joy is mixed up in uncomfortable feelings so we avoid that too (more on that in another blog).
It is in the very moment that we become intimate, in a nonjudgmental way, with our discomfort, that we send the message internally that we care about ourselves (“the light enters you”) and this begins to transform the moment.
Franz Kafka, author of Metamorphosis, said:
“You can hold back from suffering of the world,
you have permission to do so,
and it is in accordance with your nature,
but perhaps this very holding back
is the one suffering you could have avoided.”
Ponder that for a bit today.
Try this today as an experiment when you experience an uncomfortable feeling for a single minute:
“Breathing in, I feel this feeling, breathing out, I let it be”
You can shorten this to just saying “feel” on the in breath and “let be” on the out breath.
The instructions are simple, but they may not always be easy. Be kind and gentle with yourself through this process.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.