I've recently been through a particularly challenging time in my life. And I am still moving through it. Above all else, I discovered the value of "being with" everything that I experienced - the happiness and sadness and everything in between.
Those of you that know me well, know that in the past I have sometimes overlooked and failed to acknowledge my true feelings. We're all guilty of it; I just happen to be calling myself on it in a very public way. But it really is true for all of us to some degree. We all have times where we shut down, retreat, or avoid (consciously and unconsciously) the hardest and most painful feelings, emotions, and experiences. This newsletter is about the practice of "being with".
What Is The Value Of Being With?
The ability to be with anything gives us the freedom to do anything. It enables us to play it big. To really go for it. To pour ourselves into that which is most meaningful and important. To be ourselves and find our own path.
When we know that we can be with things like failure, ridicule, sadness, and loss we are less inhibited, more present, and more willing to take risks. We are less afraid of what may happen or the difficulty that lies ahead because we know that we can handle it.
Freedom doesn't come from rearranging the circumstances of our lives so that we can do whatever we want, it comes from rearranging ourselves and developing the ability to be with any circumstance whether we want it that way or not. When we rearrange the circumstances, freedom is possible in those rare occurrences when we are fortunate enough to get it just right. If we can rearrange ourselves by practicing being with, freedom is always possible.
The ability to be with also adds depth and meaning to our lives. When we stop excluding certain feelings and emotions, we can begin to open to the full range of feeling. We are more intimately connected to ourselves and the reality of what is. Our lives take on a certain richness and poignancy. In the same way that meditation helps us to see what is true, the practice of being with helps us to get in touch with our true experience.
What Are You Storing Up?
It may be easier in the moment to avoid being with difficult feelings, but what happens when we push aside the tuff stuff? Where does it go? It may seem like it goes away but it doesn't. It may drop out of our consciousness but it gets stored in our body and starts wearing on us, draining our energy, even making us sick. If you are in touch with your body, you can probably feel it right now. Take a minute to close your eyes and scan yourself for tension… What are you storing there? What is there that you aren't letting yourself be with?
Whatever we have stored up continues to act on us. It motivates our actions in an unhealthy way. For example, if we are feeling hopeless but unable to be with it, we may end up sitting around like a sloth or running around spinning our wheels trying to force something to happen. Either way we are out of balance, wasting our time and energy, and failing to function optimally.
The Only Way Out Is Through
What we resist will persist. It doesn't just go away. We have to feel it to release it.
It is there whether you acknowledge it or not, so let yourself feel it. You will be surprised to find that you can handle it. You can be with it. All of it. Give yourself permission to be angry, hopeless, sad, fearful, jealous, and insecure. The only way out is through. On the other side is a more confident You walking gracefully down your own path.
Ask yourself… What is hard for me to be with? What do I tend to avoid? Do I want to continue to avoid it, playing it safe and remaining in control, or do I want to be present and live life fully? If you want presence and fullness in your life, how are you going to create it? Seriously. It's easy to say that you want to live fully but it takes commitment and bravery to really do it. So, what are you going to do differently?