Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rest in the sacred middle

When a feeling or emotion surges within you, it does so longing for two responses.

First, to be met with your presence. To be seen and held as valid, as worthy of your curiosity, openness, and warmth. You don’t have to pretend to ‘like’ the feeling, but you honor it in any case, as the way reality is appearing in this moment. Knowing that arguing with what is, is the root essence of all suffering.

The sad one, the raging one, the shamed one, the unworthy one, the scared one – though they can be quite intense, they are not obstacles on your path. They just want to be heard, to be felt, to be cared for, to be re-parented, to be allowed to share their experience, which until now perhaps they have not felt safe enough to do.

Please listen – not just with your ears, but with your heart. Each carries sacred data, but this information is released only into a field of kindness… not aggression. See that it is the abandonment of these ones that only reinforces their centrality in your tender inner circuitry.

Next, see that the feeling is not who you are. It is not fused with you and does not in fact carry any information about your worth as a person. I ‘feel’ bad does not equal I ‘am’ bad. Just because a negative thought or image, or a painful feeling or emotion appears does not mean this is who you are. You must slow way, way down and discover this for yourself. For it is the key to a new world.

Pull back slightly and come into relationship with your feelings. Separate a bit from them, but not so much that you dissociate and disembody. You may discover there is so much space around your emotions. You can practice intimacy while not fusing. This is a holy art that you can learn.

You are the warm, open field of awareness in which all feelings and emotions can come into being for a short while, dance within your nervous system, and then dissolve back into the vast, safe ground from which they arose.

Find the sacred middle and rest there, in between the ancient pathways of denial and fusion. It is here in which the great process of metabolization by love will unfold and illuminate.

The old way is that of a triggered and inflamed limbic system, spinning out its strategies of numbing, denying, indulging, and acting out, as a way to get you away from your vulnerability as fast as possible. These strategies saved your life as a little one and were the best ways you knew to care for yourself at an earlier time. But something else is calling now. Listen carefully and you will hear the invitation – early in the morning, late at night, and as you wander through the day. Come closer. Open into. Breathe with.

The new way is alive now and rippling inside you. The pathways are revealing their flexibility and their longing to be reorganized. Soothe the fire with your presence and a fiery compassion. Open your heart to your vulnerability and meet it with just one moment of awareness and with kindness. And then slow way, way down, and see what you are.

Art by Evgeniia Litovchenko


  1. Yesterday, after listening to me for several minutes, my therapist asked if she could read something to me that she had received that very morning from a friend. It was THIS blog post. As she read it to me, I wept because it felt like full permission to lay down my defenses and acknowledge all the parts of me that, for years, have been longing for my attention and validation. I work with women in prison, and it occurred to me this afternoon that this post is something I'd like to share with them too. It's so relevant to the work we do together, looking back on our lives and telling the story of what we believe led us to our current imprisonment. So much of this work requires what I call "emotional heavy-lifting." We feel our feelings. We give voice to the pain and the shame. No more numbing. No more distraction. No more denial. I am doing this work alongside them -- and on my own out here in the free world through journaling, mind-body therapy, meditation and so forth. Thank you for being a part of my healing journey yesterday. Your words sent a ripple through me and I look forward to extending that ripple to the women behind bars.

    1. Dear friend, thank you for sharing your experience here and for your very kind words. And thank you for the courage and the care that this work requires. As you are exemplifying, to return into our embodied vulnerability - ending the cycles of abandonment and aggression - is not only for ourselves, but benefits beings everywhere - past, present, and future. It makes me so happy to hear you will be bringing forth such a holding environment, co-weaving it with our sisters in prison. Bless you.

  2. I hope you know how deeply important your posts are. I read every one, and just seeing it in my inbox slows me down to listen and receive in a new and vital way. Thank you for writing in such a way as to teach me a new way of receiving my nuanced humanity and finding such richness and freedom there, just as things are. Thank you for taking the time to write for us, and for the healing and radiating presence it brings and points to. Deepest bows.

    1. I really appreciate your kind words, Brooke. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your heart here...