The Cook Awakening

I Have a Dream

December 9, 2015
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Seasonal Change

A dream that everyone has the ability to experience freedom. Right now, whatever your circumstances. It’s your birthright.

We think certain conditions have to be present to experience freedom. We have to be healthy, we have to have a good job, be free of debt. We certainly aren’t free if we’re in the grip of illness and pain, if we have a serious diagnosis. We aren’t free if we have to change our lifestyle or else stay sick. We aren’t free if someone we love is ill. We can’t be free if we grew up in difficulty, if our family of origin life was less than ideal, or outright abusive in some way.

How can we be free and happy even in the midst of physical and/or emotional pain?

With this second light of Advent we give thanks for the plants...

With this second light of Advent we give thanks for the plants…

These are dark times. Anyone reading the news can see it in the world at large. As I’ve written about before, it’s also a dark time of year, these weeks leading up to Winter Solstice. We’re waiting for the light to return. It can feel like a loooong wait.

Happiness is a practice. It takes intention. You need a true and deep desire to be free and whole. It takes a commitment to showing up for your life, and a willingness to take a radical stand for YOURSELF and your happiness.

And… here’s the rub. We tend to think that to experience happiness and freedom we have to get away from our pain. Our pain has to go away before we can be free, so we develop methods (habits) to distance ourselves from the truth of our experience. Some methods may be “healthy”, some… not so much. From affirmations to excess or inappropriate food, drugs and alcohol – the goal is: Make it stop!

That thought is a trap. Distracting yourself may work for a little while, but generally the trauma resurfaces, the physical pain claims your attention again, or the energy to use your affirmations runs out. When that happens, you often feel defeated. “Damn! It didn’t work. It never works!” Those self defeating thoughts resurface, and you feel you’ve felt this way forever, and you’ll feel this way forever more.

There’s a truth that is seldom known in our culture – what you fear is rarely as bad as you think it will be. Many spiritual truths involve some level of paradox. When you’re uncomfortable, it’s counterintuitive to turn toward the discomfort.

We doubt that we can survive pain. I experience it myself, and see it consistently in clients. The first response to pain of any kind is fear and resistance. There’s no judgment in this statement. We’ve been trained to react this way. When we cried as children we were usually told, “Don’t cry!” – sometimes kindly and sometimes cruelly. We take anti-inflammatory tablets at the first sign of a headache or fever. The media promotes this idea with all kinds of suggestions of ways to escape anything unpleasant – have a drink, take a drug, look at a thin, scantily clad body, take a trip, buy something….

What would it be like to turn toward the thing you’re absolutely sure you cannot face in your life? What would it be like to notice your very understandable knee jerk response to avoid at all costs, and instead of resisting, gently turn toward the thing you are afraid to look at, afraid to fully experience? Can you be curious about your pain? It may have something to tell you. Can you be quiet for a little while and breathe into your discomfort? There’s a magic that happens when we drop our resistance, and settle into a welcoming stance. Welcome, pain. Welcome, resistance. Welcome.

I can’t tell you what will happen for you, it’s always different when I do this practice. What I can say is that it’s never as bad as I think it will be. And, usually, there’s an odd bliss in the center of what I want to resist, that I think has to do with dropping the resistance.

Can you say YES! to your entire experience? Not only to the sweet moments, but also to the bitter? What if you said YES! to your entire life? Would you live differently?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 at 3:37 pm and is filed under Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Seasonal Change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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