Freedom comes with the ability and confidence to stay present with ourselves and what is arising.
Most of us tend to be scared of our feelings and sensations. It makes sense because they often relate to trauma. If we have been harmed or felt we were in danger earlier in our life and we felt powerless or helpless to get away or stop it, these feelings are stored in our body. At the time, we had no way to process or escape.
My usual strategy is to avoid or numb. I used to regularly have a pulsing energy in my throat that would be soothed by something sweet and cool, like ice cream. That energy would be there and I would crave relief from it. When I was traumatized during my early teen years, I felt isolated. Ice cream was a reliable and available source of soothing relief. I used alcohol and other drugs every chance I got but sweet, cool ice cream was my go-to.
The Living Inquiries are an effective and safe method of being supported in staying with feelings and energy. I was at the Kiloby Center in 2014 for a week of intense healing work around trauma and PTSD. In that environment, I could stay with the pulsing energy in my throat long enough to realize there was a thread of energy connecting to my heart center. Once I was able to be present in the hurt and pain in my heart, the pulsing went away. Occasionally it will come up in a milder form and when it does, I know to go into the heart center and feel it directly.
Sensation can hurt, burn or feel overwhelming, especially when there are memories, words and images associated with them. Pain equates with danger to our nervous system. This leads us to try to get away from it. Some people accomplish this through fight, pushing it outward in anger. Others of us go numb. Avoiding pain is at the root of all addiction. It is the root of unhappiness and of our troubling and anxious thoughts.
The direct experience that we can survive being present with ourselves is the most important thing we can cultivate. I know this for myself and I have seen it with many people. This isn’t an understanding in the conscious level of the mind. It is a felt sense of safety and knowing that my feelings and energy are not here to hurt me.
As I started to experience that I could survive being present with what was inside, I became interested in what was stored in my body. I knew the freedom when the Velcro released and the energy dissolved. That is the key. Even if it was difficult and painful at the time, I survived it and I am here now. It is now a memory of something I survived and the energy of that needs to be seen and attended to. Through the Living Inquiries, we can reduce the intensity enough to make it possible for us to stay with it. Thoughts and sensations come and go.
In the book Friends With Your Mind, How To Stop Torturing Yourself With Your Thoughts, I go into several ways to be present with and not be re-traumatized by experiences. I have many guided practices and inquiries on YouTube. Some people work with me in person individually or in groups. Everyone is welcome to my daily free online guided practice at 8AM Eastern. We have met every day since December 1, 2015. Simply click this Zoom link at the time and join us.
And now if you have five minutes …