April 5, 2017

Learning to Sit With “It.”

You know itnot the third-person, singular, neuter pronoun but the really terrible “it.” 

The “it” that is soul-cracking pain.

The “it” that is despair as deep and vast as the ocean.

The “it” that is guilt strolling hand in hand with its close friend shame.

The “it” that’s always manifesting itself differently, but at the core is the same.

“It” can be loneliness or worthlessness or panic or sadness. Sometimes “it” is just bleak nothingness, which is a whole other form of awful.

“It” can be a million things and also just one thing. “It” is what makes you want to grab the nearest wine bottle or cupcake or remote control or iPhone or body—whatever that leads to distraction and numbness.

We all know “it”—in one way or another (if you don’t, that’s awesome and you probably don’t need to read anymore).

“It” is what makes our walls go up and our light fade away.

We’re made to survive. We’re conditioned for comfort. So when “it” comes, we hide from it, numb it, or run from it. But “it” eventually finds us. So what if we would try something different:

What if we would sit with “it”?

This is what I’ve started doing. I have started inviting “it” in, as scary and painful and ugly as “it” is. The thing I want least in my life. I open the door and ask “it” to join me.

Once “it” is settled inside me, we breathe together for a while. A deep inhale that fills up my belly, then my lungs, then my chest. One, two, three.

An exhale that starts at my tailbone and glides up my spine and leaves out through my nose, taking any garbage out with it. Inhaling for one, two, three, making more space inside myself, and then a long exhale to clean the clutter out. Sometimes the breaths are colorful, sometimes they are simply bright and clean.

For at least 10 rounds. Sometimes more. And then my breathing goes back to normal, and a mantra starts.

I inhale the mantra—a repeated word or phrase that resonates with me, usually So Hum(in Sanskrit for, “I am that”)—and exhale the mantra. I inhale “so” and exhale “hum.” Over and over again, until the light starts filling me up.

When we practice this meditation, we will become aware of the vastness inside us. We will understand that there’s enough room for us and “it.”

“It” doesn’t want to hurt us. “It” just wants to remind us that there will always be pain and chaos and senselessness, but that these things exist inside an incredible, endless space of peace, and love. And that this space can silence even the most violent forms of “it.”

You will understand that you’re enormous. That you’re connected. That you’re divine.

There is no match for “it.” But at this point, “it” has dissolved away into a pool of stars. You will understand that you have the universe and that you are the universe.

Don’t believe me? The Bible says so. Yoga philosophy says so. Science says so.

And if and when “it” comes back, you know to just invite “it” in.

Author: Mary Conroy Almada

Image: Author’s Own & Edwin Andrade/Unsplash 

Editor: Sara Karpanen

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Mary Conroy Almada