Spiritual Tools for the Journey: Show Up - Part II
As I read over my last newsletter I realized that I talked about moving to the Light that shines within each and every one of us without explaining myself very clearly. Just to expand on that further, I want to say we are the Light and the Light is Love. This is pure Love of ourselves and everyone and everything on this planet with us. For we are all ONE and this is what we are here to remember.
As I discussed in my last newsletter, the first simple rule for living is to Show Up. That means to be present in your life, it means to be conscious and aware of where you are and what you are doing. When going through transition, you must show up for whatever is happening and be aware, i.e., not in denial, of your changing circumstances. There are actually three spiritual principles that I use in assisting my clients and myself to show up for our lives, especially when in transition. They are 1) Be Present, 2) Forgive and 3) Feel Your Feelings. Abiding by them will create a richer daily life for you whether in transition or not.
"Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life."
--- Thich Nhat Hanh
To be present is to bring ourselves back to the present moment when we find our minds living in the fear of the future or the "what if's" of the past. When we allow our attention and focus to be on the past we start trying to change something that we have no control over, for it is done, it's gone. We get into resentment over something someone else did to us or we wonder if we coulda, shoulda done something differently, which is really resentment of ourselves. When we focus on the future we start to imagine lack and lack brings up fear. We cannot tolerate the uncertainty of the future and again, we immediately go to fear. When we are in resentment or fear we cannot be present, and when are not in the present we have not shown up and as Thich Nhat Hanh says in the above quote "we cannot be in touch with life".
The easiest way to bring yourself back to the present when you find your mind wandering in either direction, is to focus your attention on your breath. All you need do is take several deep breaths in through your nose and release them by blowing out through your mouth. As you breathe, be conscious of your breath and you will be brought back to the present moment.
"Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another's control…to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always.
The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else's nightmare."
As we saw above in "being present", the past must be released before we can be present and therefore, show up. Part of releasing the past is to forgive ourselves and anyone else in our lives that we feel have wronged us. This forgiveness is not for the other person, but for ourselves. Most of the time the people we have not forgiven are not even aware of this. They are going on about their lives and we are holding ourselves back in the past with our resentment. The truth of what resentment creates in us is in this quote by Malachy McCourt, "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other man to die". On a more humorous note, Buddy Hackett states, "I've had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you're carrying a grudge, they're out dancing". Ain't that the truth.
When we forgive, we release the resentment and we release the past and then we can be truly present. Then we can show up.
There are numerous exercises for assisting you in forgiving and releasing the past. The one I use the most often is in the next section on "feeling the feelings."
Feel the Feelings
"The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings."
Typically painful emotions are hooked to the fear of the future or the resentment of the past and they keep us from showing up in the present. And the truth is, most of the time in the present all is well. And if all is not well in the present, if we experience the feelings as they are occurring they do not build to extremes. In order to release the resentments of the past or the fears of the future, we must feel our emotions.
At first I was going to call this section "feeling the emotions", however as I thought about it, it felt more correct to say "feel the feelings". I kept thinking that's why we call them feelings, they are meant to be felt, not repressed, or stuffed or any of the numerous things we usually do with feelings. Some of my clients feel that they don't want to look at or feel any pain, they prefer to do affirmations or put their attention somewhere else. This just sets the pain in our bodies and it will manage to come out in ways that may do us harm. We may chastise our loved ones or those we work with over circumstances that really don't warrant that kind of explosion. We may have outbursts of tears that again are overreactions to the situation. We get into all kinds of denial mechanisms that may lead to additions to avoid feeling the pain. There are many ways the pain manages to erupt from our bodies and do harm to others and ourselves. The truth is it is best to acknowledge and feel the feelings we are having.
My belief is that "pain is your soul trying to communicate with you". For isn't it our pain that tells us where we are not living to our true potential, where we are not being true to ourselves, where our needs are not being meant? So the truth is we must be willing to look at our pain and ask "what are you trying to tell me?" and then listen. Be willing and give yourself permission to feel the pain.
When we express the pain, it often ends up being "put" on someone else or we add to our pain by chastising and/or mentally or emotionally hurting ourselves. The following technique will allow you to experience the pain or the "negative" feeling without having to express it:
Find a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Focus your attention on your breath as you breathe normally. When you are ready, take three very deep breaths in through your nose, expanding your belly with the breath and releasing the breath through your mouth. As you breathe in count to 8, hold the breath for a count of 4 and count to 8 as you breathe out. Visualize yourself breathing in relaxation and as you breathe out, visualize your body relaxing and being totally supported by the chair.
Allow yourself to experience whatever feeling you have about the situation whether it is hurt or anger or sadness or something else. As you experience the feeling, mentally scan your body to get a sense of where in your body the feeling resides. It is where you have a sense of energy being blocked, where it feels like something is broken and it may often be a clutching sensation in that part of your body. When you have determined where the feeling is, breathe into it, focusing all your attention on it. As you focus on the feeling, see if you can "see" the blockage. This allows you to really focus and keep your attention on the feeling and it becomes a physical presence in your body. Keep focusing on the presence; noting if there is any color, shape, or texture to the pain. These may change as you focus. If you start to cry or sob, allow yourself the freedom to do that, do not try to stop yourself.
If you are comfortable asking the feeling if it wants to "tell" you something, then ask and listen to what it has to say. You may "hear" words or get a sense of what your feeling is desiring or needing. At this point, the feeling may be asking for a need to be fulfilled, such as protection, acceptance or love. If you are able to give it what it wants, then make a commitment to give that and be sure that you keep the commitment you have made.
When you are comfortable with the feeling and have a sense of completion you may bring your attention back to your body in the chair and open your eyes. Know that you can always use this technique if more feelings come up around your situation.
Whenever you have painful feelings you can use this technique to experience the feeling. Experiencing the feeling is what allows you to release it. As you release the negative feelings attached to the situation, you will feel more and more ready to move on with your life. You will feel ready to take the next step, however only you can determine when you are at that point.
That's it for the first rule. As you go through the month of September, see if you can master this rule. Do your best to keep your attention and focus on the present, forgive yourself and those you feel have harmed you, feel your feelings and really SHOW UP for your life.
If you would like to discuss anything I have written here or would like to work with me as your coach on mastering this first rule, please do not hesitate to email or call me.
Till next month.
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