Friday, November 23, 2012

The love that keeps the stars from falling out of the sky...

What is it that we’re organizing our lives around not feeling? For each of us there are certain feelings which, when triggered, can lead to the experience of a near survival-level anxiety. If we’re willing to explore this very closely – including paying careful attention to our relationship with “spirituality” – we might start to sense and intuit exactly which feelings we do not wish to feel, and how we set up our lives so that we do not have to experience them. When we discover what these are, we can then begin to actually invite them into our lives, and to finally see what these actual energies are and what they have to show us about the true nature of love. 

As we begin to do this, we might start to see that these feelings have been with us for a very long time, even though it may appear that they are expressing themselves in unique and current ways. We may also sense that these feelings might possibly be with us until the day we die. So then what? What if our most uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, and anxieties continue to arise each and every day for the rest of our lives, especially as we allow ourselves to be raw, naked, and vulnerable in intimate relationship? It can be quite easy to avoid these feelings (remaining radically “awakened,” never experiencing conflict or suffering, etc.) if we remain outside relationship, on our meditation cushions, at powerful spiritual events, or in front of our prayer altars worshipping God and Guru from afar. But if we expose our heart to another and take the profound risk that intimacy always demands, we realize quickly that we will never be protected from utter exposure and unbearable feelings of all kinds. 

Of course, these challenging feelings do not describe who we are in any absolute sense. I’m merely suggesting an experiment where we invite out into the open exactly what we have organized our life around not feeling. Historically, it was likely a threat to feel these feelings: perhaps love was withdrawn, they generated anxiety in those around us, or they otherwise led to the creation of an environment of misattunement and invalidation. Much of the suffering, struggle, and conflict in our lives, from what I’ve seen in speaking with others about this, really just means that we’re about to have to feel some feelings we just don’t want to feel. But what will actually happen if we turn directly into these feelings? Will there be a serious consequence? Are we actually in danger? Will we make it? Will the panic or anxiety overtake us? Will we be able to tolerate these feelings? 

We can learn a lot about our lives, our relationship with spirituality, and our fears around intimacy, as we explore those feelings that we do not want to feel. It takes tremendous courage, a deep curiosity, and more than anything a profound kindness to enter our hearts and bodies in this way, to allow ourselves to care enough about this precious life to make this journey. But what I have seen – and continue to see – is that this type of unconditional commitment to kindness and vulnerability offers the most direct doorway into the love that we so long for, that love that keeps the stars from falling out of the sky.