A lot of what gets us and the world into trouble falls into one of 2 extremes: rage and numbing.
Everyday we can find examples of either extreme in ourselves or in the news. We seem to vascillate between the 2 like ping pong balls. This is the fight-or-flight response designed to keep us safe when we are in true danger, which is rare. How many times in your life have you truly, truly been in danger where you had to run or fight for your life?
The alternative, and the only true path to healing is being in the in between, at least some of the time.
For example, you become extremely angry at someone whom you feel ‘betrayed’ you. Perhaps they broke confidentiality, spoke ill of you, or broke a promise or agreement they made with you. The anger is energizing. You tell the story in disbelief to your friends. They join in your anger… it’s contagious. You create a story about the person “They are _____”. Fill in the blank with your favourite adjective like ‘mean, selfish, uncaring..’. You withdraw from the person and now you are holding a grudge. Grudges shorten our lives. You all go out for a glass of wine and feel better… until you see the person again.
Who is suffering? You. What would happen if you became very present with yourself and felt the hurt, sadness, disbelief, anger, confusion, behind the rage? What if you softened into the fact that this happened, it didn’t feel good, and you may recall you have also done this to others. What if you stayed there until the energy of the emotion distilled itself into the pool of human emotion that we all feel? I wonder if it would have created such a life of it’s own.
What is behind rage? Perhaps helplessness, sadness, grief, fear?
What is behind numbing? Perhaps anger, fear, irritation or simple annoyance?
** Either is an inability to be present with what is happening both within and without in the present moment **
With mindfulness we can let ourselves feel what we feel and we can sink into the moment with our whole self. We can be truly here with what is happening right now, and we can save ourselves a whole lot of tension.
**The walls we create around ourselves are also the walls to the deepest connection with others**
As humans, we have a full range of emotions from joy to despair. Emotional agility is as important as physical agility. It is the ability to move around a little more freely without too much strain.
Try it now: What happens when you notice a so-called negative emotion? Do you reach for an escape in exercise, food, anger, gossip, complaining? My go-to was always problem-solving ie. if I can analyze this enough, it will be understood and go away…. exhausting!
Simply, feel the feeling. It’s only energy. It won’t swallow you up. This too will pass.
The only advice I really give is: Don’t believe anything I say. Experiment, try it out for yourself.
I love to hear how it goes in the comments below. I also love when people find examples of where this doesn’t work.
Lots of love,
4 thoughts on “The middle way to peace with mindfulness”
I love your regular messages. They are valuable tools in self awareness,
gentle reminders of life’s lessons. Today’s message precipitated a note that I must remember:
“When someone gives you their attention, remember you are only a guest.”
Thanks for your generous effort to share your knowledge freely.
I love that… it is a privilege these days to be granted someone’s attention!
Sometimes others do or say something that hurts me. I end up feeling sorry for myself. What is a good way to handle these feelings. ?
That’s such a great question. If you can be very present with yourself, notice what you feel: hurt, disappointment, sadness, anger? Probably a whole mixture of feelings. Get really curious. Breathe deeply. Full responsibility for your own reaction. Now, can you voice immediately how you feel? Or does it go in and turn into resentment? In truth, people will do what they do for a zillion other reasons and you have a choice to speak out (not expecting anything in return) or change the situation. You are only responsible for your own behaviour.