October 2, 2013

Breathe into the Pain.

A quieting practice for peace, warmth, acceptance and love.

There are bad emotions. Always, there are bad emotions. And I suppose they are somehow necessary, because without feeling the bad stuff, we wouldn’t know its opposite, the good stuff.

But there they are, the bad feelings—the pain, the anger, the anxiety, the shame, the guilt, the fear. They are born in our cells and they sit within the membranes of every shimmering atom of energy, turning dark and dense and heavy. There they are, all the time, hurting and hurting and hurting like a scratching below the surface of our skin.

And so then, we are so often told to accept the emotions, feel them, allow them. For a very, very long time—since as far back as I knew to feel—I had not understood this. Why would I want to accept a bad emotion, feel it or allow it to smother my space?

Worse, I didn’t know how. How do I ‘allow an emotion’ or accept something which (I thought) so obviously only enlarges pain, blistering, discomfort like needles.

Then someone told me to breathe.

Just breathe.

Empty out all the other thoughts and the pushing-away impulses. Just sit, be quiet, breathe and be.

Allow whatever happens in the inner circus of the mind to happen. Don’t judge it, scold it, stop it, hate it, or make it smaller. Allow.

So I tried to do this, for just a few minutes in a day or whenever the muck started to push its way out. Sometimes, I would do it as a last meditation of the day before going to sleep.

As I did, the anger would come up, the guilt would gurgle and boil, the deep, cloying, painful sadness would leak out of their membranes and fill me up like a kind of drowning.

So I just kept breathing, allowing, for the first time, for it to be okay.

Breathe into the anger, breathe into the sorrow, breathe into the pain.

See that in all their raggedness, these feelings—like sorry soldiers—have been trapped and they too need to come out. Be kind.

Breathe into them and as we do, release them from beyond the membranes that we’ve kept locked, into our cells, beyond our cells, into our bodies and minds and hearts, and then even further beyond—outwards, outwards to the outside, far away from us.

Breathe into the pain so that which each lungful, the pain swirls up and out around us. Gulp air and go into it, inside it. Immerse—because by doing so, the pain releases from within and eddies around outside instead.

Just breathe.

Allowing the pain, I think now, is to allow the painful things to come out from their own suffocating, anxious, tiny spaces. Keeping them in, denying and ignoring them only makes them thump at the walls, sit heavy and cause us a sick, weighty burden.

Sometimes, I tell myself, “I will be angry now. I will be anxious. I will feel the pain—come on, come on, come on.” In that moment of total allowance, where I brace myself against a swooping wave of aching, there is a sudden quietness.

All the energy of that single bad feeling, given its freedom and breath, finds an outlet and slips away.

So just keep breathing—into the pain and the desolation and the tightness so that it knows it’s acknowledged, understood, felt, accepted.

Finally, finally, as we allow the pain to be, to move and to flee, freed, from ourselves, it leaves a big, clear, empty space where it once was. There is new space now to be filled again with only the warm, loving, smooth, peaceful things we wish into being.

It starts with breathing.

Just breathing.

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: via db_in_uk on Flickr Creative Commons}

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