Allowing What Is
This is part two of the four part RAIN of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion.
A guided meditation accompanies this post, tying part one and part two together.
Part Two: Allowing What Is
I spoke in the previous post about the sadness, grief and shame I felt when my long term relationship ended and the six month journey that it took me on (CLICK HERE).
I was going through a painful time, but I was also experiencing more suffering in an already difficult period because I was telling myself that I should be "over it" already and that these feelings being here and the situation I was in were somehow wrong.
I actually began to resent having to deal with the sadness and all the things that go along with a break up. There were huge amounts of resistance to how I was feeling internally and to what experiences were happening externally. I was adding another layer of suffering to what was already a painful experience.
Whether I believed what was happening in my life was wrong or right, or it should or shouldn't be happening, the situation still remained the same.
It's an act of self-compassion to let ourselves take as long as we need to to grieve, to feel the depths of our sadness and to allow whatever is arising moment to moment to be there.
When I recognised my sadness and allowed it to be there with a gentle and graceful surrendering, I would feel more emotionally balanced. This was a learning curve for me in "what we resist persists" and a catalyst for healing.
It might not be something as painful as a break up, it could be conflict at work or with a loved one, it could be a feeling of loneliness, it could be a tough decision that we need to make. Any kind of dissatisfaction in general... We have a choice in how we relate to this dissatisfaction.
In Buddhism philosophy this resistance to difficult emotions is also referred to as the second arrow: the first arrow is the painful situation and the second arrow is our reaction to it.
The Buddha once asked a student, "If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?" The student replied "It is." The Buddha then asked "If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?" The student replied again, "It is." The Buddha then explained, "In life we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional."
Part of the human experience is about feeling a full range of emotions: sadness and happiness, joy and despair, love and grief. Being positive is a celebrated attitude, more so than living authentically and in touch with our deepest feelings. As long as we are alive it is guaranteed that we are going to have painful experiences (the first arrow). To then condemn, judge, deny or hate the first arrow is how we are struck with the second arrow. It's our reaction to it.
We may use either aversion or avoidance as a strategy to not feel difficult emotions. Second arrowing is an example of aversion: we judge, label name call. We resist against the situation and against life. Avoidance means we suppress our true feelings: we may numb them with food or wine or distract ourselves being busy.
Lets say for example someone takes advantage of us and we feel they are disrespectful or thoughtless which annoys us (the first arrow). We may believe that it is not "nice" to get angry so we judge and blame ourselves for feeling this way (the second arrow). We may feel that we are falling short because we are not a kind enough person, or too uptight/sensitive/emotional "If only I wasn't so (insert)" or "I shouldn't be feeling this way."
If we're not second arrowing ourselves then we are trying to push those emotions down and tell ourselves "try not to think about it"... We all know this is a hopeless strategy and the emotions normally come back stronger than before!
In the above example though, anger can serve us well. By contacting it with a curious awareness we can then choose what action to take next. Perhaps that might be we create more boundaries and communicating a polite "no thanks" next time that person asks for our time. If in our relationships someone continually selfishly does something - it is a completely normal and healthy response to feel irritated and we can then choose to act more wholeheartedly when we contact what's there moment-to-moment.
Suppression of our feelings leads to a suppression of our own innate, true, wisdom.
Turning inward to be with our feelings and listen to the compass of our own heart, our own voice, provides us with an inner guidance wiser and more profound than any spiritual person, expert or guru. No one knows our present moment situation better than we do!
PRACTICAL AND GUIDED MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
Recognising and allowing gives us the confidence to trust in our own intuition and we can tap into it with two basic questions:
1. What is going on inside me right now?
2. Can I be with this?
We hope you enjoy today's meditation!
If you would like to start using meditation to help with stress management and coping with your emotions, feelings of overwhelm or anxiety but are not sure where to begin, our Summer Day Retreat on February 25th 2017 may be just the thing!
We are delighted to have Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction expert Christine Hiltner as our guest speaker for the day, joining us at the beautiful Highfield House in Stanley.
Learn how mindfulness and meditation can help enrich your life and your relationships and improve your health and well-being.