There is such a deeply rooted belief that we must do something with intense surges of feeling and emotion as they wash through: understand them, determine their cause, link them to some life circumstance or person, change them, transform them, eliminate them, or even “heal” them. Somehow we lose touch with entering into relationship with them.
This organization was weaved into our sensitive nervous systems as young children when we did not have the capacity to metabolize the intensity in an environment of empathic, attuned presence. Out of this we created our unique strategies of reaction and avoidance, often rooted in quickly removing ourselves from very intense, dysregulating states of vulnerability and psychic overwhelm. This was not neurotic, but adaptive. It was intelligent, and represented the best ways we knew to care for ourselves at the time.
But here you are, no longer a child in your family of origin, and longing to fully participate here. To feel fully alive. To practice intimacy with external others as well as the “other” inside you that is surging to be held and integrated.
What if for just one moment, you did absolutely nothing in relation to the arising of emotional intensity? If you neither repressed nor denied it, nor urgently scrambled to seek relief from it? If you did not spin to apply spiritual teachings to your vulnerability, but moved toward it, with a fiery commitment to no longer abandon yourself. To curiously explore what is appearing and its qualities, trusting in the activity of the wisdom-guests and intelligence they carry.
What would happen if you replaced the demand for relief with the curiosity of relationship? Even for just a moment. To dare to allow in the possibility that there is purpose and meaning wired into this relationship and into the somatic, psychic, and emotional material as it comes into awareness to be met.
What if the most wise, loving, attuned response was to take no action? For now. To not rush to mend your broken heart, transform the sadness into happiness, or seek relief from your rage, hopelessness, or confusion? To not give into the ancient demand that you fall into the extremes of denial or seeking relief, abandoning the uninvited ones through the fueling of a story about what has happened, who is to blame, why they are there, when they will go away, and what their presence actually means about you as a person? Or applying techniques to convert the experience into some other that you have been told you should be experiencing instead?
These feelings and emotions are pure energy flow and information. They are not enemies or obstacles on your path, but are the very path itself. They have not come to harm you but only to be allowed back into the majestic vastness that you are. To remind you of something you may have forgotten and lost contact with along the tired journey of becoming.
This “doing nothing” is not a cold, passive resignation, but is an alive, sacred activity, infused with presence and a wild sort of compassion. It is an expression of embodied intimacy and care. This open-hearted doing nothing is a radical act of kindness and love, and a holy gift that you can offer yourself and others.
The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now
New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in April