As I grow along this journey of enlightenment in which I’ve clumsily stumbled upon, I continue to possess this deep desire to continue sharing with you. I liken the desire to how I felt as a child when it was show-and-tell day…do you remember that feeling? Excited and nervous…not knowing exactly what to say so that everyone watching ‘gets’ how important the object is to you. Sad when time ran out and your turn got postponed to the next-day because you just couldn’t wait to share. So connected to the belief that once you shared, others would ‘feel’ the same level of appreciation as you did for the object. And also proud when someone came up to you afterwards and expressed how much they liked the object too. Well that’s how I felt anyway 🙂 Ok, moving along, I would like to attempt to ‘show’ and ‘tell’ you about the importance of acceptance, and how I am learning about its healing qualities in a forum I am grateful to have been exposed to.
A few mornings ago, my sister-in-law and I bundled ourselves up on a damp, dreary day (coffee in hand) and excitedly travelled to a yoga studio about 30 mins away from home for a seminar on ‘taking and giving’ delivered by a brilliant Buddhist teacher. As mentioned in a previous blog, we have become quite fascinated by these mindful teachings and can’t seem to get enough of them. When we arrived, we nestled in for the 3 hour class, which included 3 guided meditations, and proceeded to open our minds to enlightened possibilities.
During the beginning portion of the class we were introduced to acceptance which reminded me of the ‘distress tolerance’ I have learned in save my life grad school, but on a much more vast and spiritual level. Early on I could feel myself get nervous when we were encouraged to meditate on a recent upsetting emotion and rather than closing our minds and hearts to it, like so many of us do as a human reflex to limit or even completely avoid pain, we were to open our minds and hearts and allow it in. SUCH a foreign idea to me less than a year ago! So I went all in and did my very best to recall the feeling I felt when Ian moved out. It was a scary task because I’ve done a really good job to date moving on from this emotion, so feeling it again was extremely uncomfortable. Through the meditation we were guided to slowly shed the armour on our hearts heavy piece by piece, and let the emotion move in. Once we welcomed it in, we were reminded that we could still survive without any cold and uncomfortable protection on our fragile hearts. Who knew? We then imagined the emotion flowing through us, and moving on into the universe in which it came from. How interesting to see that we didn’t need to keep it in our hearts forever.
Moving on through the afternoon, we were taught how ALL painful human emotions are universal. We ALL feel guilt, sadness, fear etc, at some point in our lives. And not only do we block many of these painful emotions from ourselves, our egos also contain them so tightly behind our armoured heart that even the human beings closest to us (who could help and support us) have no idea of the pain we are experiencing. We don’t want to admit that we may be depressed, or sad, because so much of western society has taught us that these emotions equal weakness. So we lock-up our hearts and throw away the key…sometimes forever…and how tragic is that?
The teacher shared how giving any emotion permission to exist as it does, moves our minds away from constrictive ‘protection’, to an open acceptance which can lead to peace…if we allow it to. What a mind-blowing concept. But to me it makes sense! For example, take the emotion guilt…a relatively common emotion which can bring about immense personal pain; unless you’re a sociopath, we’ve all felt it. Personally, this emotion makes me feel ashamed, and for lack of a better word, gross; not a sensation I would choose to have and experience. But none-the-less it exists and has consumed me for years because I buried it so tightly in my heart. It was never something I wanted to talk about because it made me feel weak. But according to the teacher, if I would have accepted the presence of this emotion, dealt with it rather than hiding it, and let it move on, I would have been free from it a lot more quickly. I thought hiding it took strength, but accepting it was actually the strong knock-out left-hook.
Acceptance of our emotions doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with the events they result from. For example, if we are in an abusive relationship it’s not ok to stay and ‘accept’ the abuse. But regardless of where they originated from, our emotions are delivering us powerful messages filled with the possibility of self-growth and inner-peace.
Maybe try to remove one layer of your armour today? See where it takes you and what it teaches you. Maybe try to accept that whatever you find shielded inside your heart is a universal emotion…and that no matter what you tell yourself, you are NOT alone in feeling it.