Sometimes it’s really hard to just “be where we are” because where we are is deeply uncomfortable. Maybe we’re grappling with envy, despair, rage, grief, heartbreak, rejection or feelings of being powerless. Maybe we’re frustrated because we’re making self-destructive choices, and even though we’re conscious of it, we can’t stop ourselves. Maybe we’ve screwed up and need to apologize, but instead we’re digging our heels in. This business of being human isn’t easy, and it isn’t always pretty. But when we try to skip over where we are and rush to something that feels better by running, denying, numbing, or trying to avoid, we simply prolong our pain, and miss a chance to know ourselves more deeply. We’re also less likely to be accountable for the energy we’re spreading.
Learning to witness your experience without judging it, is one of the huge gifts of a consistent yoga and/or seated meditation practice . Maybe you’re on your mat and you feel tight and tired. Maybe you’re confronted with a pose that’s challenging for you, and you decide to take a water break, instead. Maybe you go to sit, and your mind is racing and spinning, so you make a phone call or get on your computer. What we resist, persists. When we avoid, we also miss not just a chance to know ourselves, but also to know someone else. We all long to be loved for who we are and how we are, with all our beauty and all our flaws. A lot of people struggle to do that for themselves, let alone other people. Learning to lean into those uncomfortable feelings and experiences without grasping or recoiling or contracting, takes the power away from the feeling, and gives it back to us. Feelings arise and they peak and they subside. Feelings are not facts, and no feeling is forever, as the saying goes. How we feel now is not how we will always feel, and that includes the great feelings, too. That euphoria and all-consuming heat of new love would be exhausting if it never leveled out into something sustainable day-to-day. Not that you shouldn’t enjoy every second if that’s where you are, and not that you don’t want to stoke the flame every day to keep the fire burning, but that’s a choice; that’s different than being consumed.
The more we open to reality as it is, the less we suffer, and the less we create suffering. The more we accept other people as they are, and where they are, the less we create suffering for ourselves, and for them. No one wants to be a disappointment to themselves, or anyone else, but when we refuse to embrace a person as they are, we set them up to fail. I’m not saying that we don’t all have work to do, and places where we can heal more or understand more, or open more. I’m just saying when a person makes it clear to us where they are and how they feel, either through communication or through their actions, it’s not loving to try to superimpose what we want on top of that, even if we’re motivated by our feelings of love. Instead, our job in that moment is to lean into the rawness of accepting that how we feel is not how they feel. What we want is not what they want. Dancing like a monkey to try to be perfect for someone else, selling yourself, running, chasing, cajoling or manipulating, convincing yourself or them that you can settle for less than what you really want in your heart—all of these are ways we might attempt to deny or avoid the painful reality in front of us.
You will never find peace when you ignore the truth, that much I can guarantee. Of course we want what we want. Are we going to get everything we want? Is every longing going to be met? No. Is life going to unfold exactly like the picture in your head? Probably not. So how do we maintain our center, our feelings of “okayness” under these conditions? We tell ourselves this is how things are right now, for us, or for the people in our lives. We remember that everything is always in a state of flux, including ourselves, those closest to us, and perfect strangers. We remember that we never know what life has in store for us, and that perhaps it will be better than anything we could have imagined. We use our suffering to grow and open more, to become more sensitive, more empathetic, more tolerant, more patient, more forgiving, because we understand we are not alone in this experience. We all cry ourselves to sleep sometimes, or think we’ve made a total mess of everything, or have to face the fact that we haven’t been treating ourselves or others well. Shame, blame and rage will keep you stuck; they’re not a good foundation for growth. Feel your feelings so you can release the heat of them, and move onto whatever is coming next with an open heart, an open mind, and open hands.
Give yourself the gift of getting quiet, so you can hear the voice of your intuition. If it isn’t yoga or meditation for you, then find something—windsurfing, hiking, salsa dancing, something that gets you out of your head, and into your body, and into the flow and the realm of sensation and intuition. I used to long to be happy, but now I’m hungry for the truth, because somewhere along the way I realized that’s the key to peace. You won’t find it in events, milestones, or other people. You’ll find it within yourself when you get hungry for what’s true, and by that I mean, what’s true for you, and what’s true for other people. It makes life so much simpler.
Wishing that for you, and sending you love,