Video excerpt talking about how to be with what’s here, more than just holding space. Finding a deeper clarity and higher resolution for that which afflicts us. Also touching on what I mean when I speak about the spiritual heart. Excerpt taken from the December 2020 Diving Deep 7 day retreat.
What is your capacity to be with loss, to be with grief and sadness and loneliness, to be with fear? What is your capacity to embody all aspects of the human experience, not just the ‘good’ stuff?
It’s not that we need to go looking for this stuff, court it, wallow in it, seek it out. But it will inevitably find you, one way or another. If you spend your life running from this, finding safe ground away from the mud and melee of life, when it does show up it will feel overwhelming and scary, it will feel like it could break you, even worse, it could kill you. This safe space, this gilded cage that you have created from life will be shaken to the core. Your fragility will become apparent.
Freedom is the ability to encompass and embrace it all, it’s the antifragility of life. It’s the allowance of the full expression of life to move through you unimpeded.
Root out where you are feeling fragile with life. Become aware of it and the tendency to avoid it at all cost.
The seeing of this tendency, the noticing of what it FEELS like, how the body responds will give you your clues as to where life is calling for you to meet it still. You may not feel you have the capacity to meet life in the way it wants you to, but you do. We as humans are amazing creatures, the capacity of life to be lived through us is infinitely wise. The only boundary we often have are the boundaries of the mind, the doubts, the fears, the what ifs.
Give it a try, let go, surrender into the wisdom that life is bringing to your feet, the gift it is trying to give you.
Even if only a little, open that clenched fist you have on life, and let it all come in, you’ll be surprised at the space and loving embrace that you already have available to you, to be present for it all.
Sometimes you just want someone to hear you, to see you, without needing to fix you or explain away your pain and confusion.
To hold the space, the pregnant silence, the love for all that you’re going through.
To not project into the void of uncomfortableness and fill it with solutions, comparisons and stories.
To be okay with just having the space be about you and only you.
To create a refuge and safety for you to go through what you’re going through.
To compassionately be there for you, to listen to you and not make it in any way about them.
To give you space without any needs or any conditions or any time limits.
Sometime you really WANT this. Sometimes you really NEED this. We all do. And that’s okay, that’s not bad or wrong.
Let it sink in… WE ALL NEED TO BE HEARD AND HELD SOMETIMES.
When you do receive this gift of space freely and wholly given, it lights up your heart, it lights up your world. The healing that comes from this act of being held, this act compassion and tender love is immense.
But it’s not always easy to find it in those moments that it’s needed most, by the people that it’s most needed from. And when you aren’t met in this way, then the shame of needing to ask for it comes in full force and the sorrow of your brokenness and aloneness is felt so deeply. The fear and guilt that maybe this is too much for you to ask of them, that you don’t deserve it, that you’re being ‘too needy’, ‘too much’.
And so your heart breaks a little more. You feel yourself withdrawing, resigning to the need for self sufficiency and the ability to self-sooth. You have no right to demand anything of anyone after all, and you know this, you feel this. But even so, all the while the depth of your broken heart wants and wishes them to say… “I’m sorry, I get it, I was uncomfortable with your pain so I tried to fix it. I made it about me. I made it about something I’d read, I’d done, I’d experienced. And all this took the attention from you when you needed so much to just be simply heard and held.”
They missed the mark, even if in their heart they wanted so badly to fully to be there for you. But it’s such a subtle and tender mark that it’s so easily missed. It takes such love, such intimacy, such trust, such openness to listen for those cues before it’s too late.
You want so badly for them to see that you don’t need anything, other than to be heard. That your silence was not a space that needed to be filled, but a space to be held. That you were having a hard enough time letting yourself go there, that even in your awkward attempts at changing the subject or even the mood of the moment were just in fact an invitation to yourself to go deeper, to let go more into the vulnerability of the moment.
Yes, they don’t owe you anything. Yes, you don’t have the right for them to show up in the way you need, or for them to know what you even need. But you so want them to go there with you, to create a safe space so that you can let it all hang out.
Your broken heart just wants to be seen and held with love, so let it be seen and held with love… YOUR LOVE.
Spontaneous and casual morning walk contemplations; This morning talking about counterproductive sufferings when dealing with strong emotions.
A Deeper Kind of Love – Video excerpt from the Living Your Full Expression webinar with Imogen and Leonor on 22nd February 2020.
It’s those moments where we are hardest on ourselves that actually call for the most kindness, for the most understanding, most forgiveness, the most self love. But sometimes that feels like an impossibility, the moment feels too heavy, too overwhelming to bring kindness into the equation. It feels like too much of a leap and too far to go.
In those moments where self love and compassion can’t be found maybe it’s possible to look instead to the ways in which we’re being unkind and too hard on ourselves and loosen the grip just a little, for just a moment. Let some space, some breathing room into the moment. Take a momentary pause and feel the relief and space and peace that that brings.
Sometimes it’s not a case of completely flipping the script, sometimes it’s just the case of simply finding the tiniest of cracks to what is already there. Those cracks can be found anywhere and are waiting and willing to be found. Sometimes the kindest thing that can be managed is to find that single crack in life to take a momentary respite.
There’s a tendency to avoid dealing with the subject of mental health in some spiritual traditions and teachings. To poo poo inner work and growth, to try to meditate away ‘negative’ emotions, reactions, thought patterns and conditioning. But spirituality and spiritual awakening is not a panacea, it is many things and in some ways a lot of the “problems” of the mind do in fact disappear. But in some ways post awakening the work and cleanup becomes intensified and it can become even more important to address and give attention to anything that’s still arising. This can be when some of the true work begins, because the strategies that have stopped you from looking beneath the covers of the mind dissolve.
It is the embracing not the running away that allows one to look at where the stored traumas, memories, reactions, conditioning and energetic imprints are having an impact on the current moment, your current experience of life. So in some ways it’s only then that you can truly move through and on from the issues or patterns that may have plagued your life.
We all know someone, or maybe ourselves that have experienced mental health issues, and yet it’s still so hard for society as a whole to acknowledge, embrace and talk about. Why do you think we even need to have a ‘World Mental Health Day’. We’re too quick to try and fix, instead of taking the cues that are being shown. Those cue want to be heard, want to be seen. Not fixed or forgotten about, or covered up, or shoved under the carpet; but instead seen and heard and embraced like a small child looking for love.
There is no manual about how to live life. It’s difficult and there are no singular right or wrong answers that apply to all. But especially when we pay too much attention to what those around us, and society are saying about how we should feel and act and be in life. Often the first thing to go when we try and fit into something that we feel we should be fitting into, is our sense of internal well-being and peace.
The term mental health is a catchall for many experiences and often comes measured against a theoretical blueprint about what it is to be ‘normal’. This is massively problematic, particularly as from everything I can gather, there is no normal. And beyond that… often these things that we fear are ‘abnormal’ about ourselves are actually experiences that our friend, our neighbour, our family member, the stranger on the bus are also feeling and experiencing too.
The mental suffering comes in when we falsely accept that our experience is wrong – that we ‘shouldn’t’ be experiencing x, y & z. I’ve often said to people that I encounter along the road of life who tell me that what they are experiencing is wrong or broken, that what if they were an alien who had just arrived on Earth and were told x, y & z is completely correct to feel, what then? What would their relationship to x, y & z be? Would they think it wrong? No.
So it’s often our relationship to how we perceive what we’re experiencing that causes it to be wrong or right, to suffer it or not. What if we were taught happy is bad, sad is good? It’s our labelling of experiences that determines their value and therefore where we derive our sense of value in life. What if we were to drop these labels and sit in the pocket with our experiences. To not run away from the ‘bad’ and towards the ‘good. But to feel all.
I feel this is true mental health. To attend to all that’s arising with awareness and compassion, without labels and judgements of right or wrong.
Mental health assumes there is a good health and a bad health. It measures this good and bad against the idea (or ideal) of normal. But show me normal, find me who it looks like? We have to face facts, there is no one-size fits all. There is no ‘normal’, just life playing out as it does with all its colour and variety, shapes and sizes, all its seeming paradoxes and diversities.
There are none so bright and full of love
than those that have allowed life to penetrate them fully.
Cracked open so immensely and felt so deeply
the depth and breadth of their experiencing.
Leaving no stone unturned, no shadow unseen, no feeling unmet.
Those that have surrendered so tenderly
to the acknowledgement that they know nothing.
That they are but a whisper on the lips of life,
carried in the arms of Grace,
and held in the groundlessness of Being itself.
Their cracked open heart laid gently to rest
at the feet of their very own beloved Self.
One of the biggest helps for me to move beyond my conditioned responses and traumas and to heal and integrate them has been learning how to cope with strong and intense emotions – which for the record I was pretty fantastic at avoiding for most of my life!
I would say that when all the strategies for avoiding no longer worked the only way to turn was through and into them. It was a case of let go or be dragged but turning into them was definitely the last thing I would have originally thought would be of help, go figure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For me this was learning to hold emotions and energetic arisings like you would a small child in a loving embrace, to pull them closer and say, “It’s okay you can be here. I don’t need you to change or be gone, you don’t need to be fixed or healed. You can be just as you are for as long as you need. You are also free to leave if and when you’re ready to as well.”
It was Adyashanti that first introduced me to this idea of embracing not running away from difficult experiences. To lovingly hold what is arising tenderly closer than close in my heart with the deepest compassion and patience, to let whatever is showing itself to just BE. And in this way whatever is coming up in the moment gets to be fully heard and met, not cut short or rushed but just patiently allowed for as long as needed. There’s no waiting or willing anything to be gone, just the full acceptance that if it’s there, then it needs to be there. To unconditionally allow, accept and embrace with compassion and tenderness.
And so in this I have learnt to not run, to not avoid, to not change or reject, or try to morph, transmute or even heal anything. But to just innocently and patiently accept and love anything that can and does show up in the field of experience.
This was and is one of the most powerful tools in my tool box of life, allowing me to come to a place of deep peace and okay-ness with whatever shows up. I’ve also noticed over time this has spontaneously become a big part of how I meet others too, it’s seeped in not as ‘something I do’ but as a by-product of meeting myself this way continuously. The work started with me.
I know there’ll be those of you well versed in non-dual teachings that will ask “yes, but WHO does the work?” So let’s not be coy and beat around the bush…. yes there’s no ‘I’ to ‘do’ the work but you can be damn sure that nonetheless the work sure does show up to be done! And for me it was almost as if that work could only really truly begin in earnest once the false ownership of ‘I’ was let go of and the inevitable flow of life came rushing in.
I don’t have any method of teaching or techniques to hand out, but if I were asked what was most helpful to me where the rubber meets the road in terms of the practical embodiment of life; the act of tenderly embracing whatever showed up was the most pivotal turning point of my experience. Whether you take that as a prescription or a description… I leave that to you to discover.
When we experience a strong emotion or felt response to life there is a call to be present, a call to sink into it. It’s not the moment to run away and avoid. It’s not the moment to reject and try with all your might to change the course of life. Life is giving you a gift, an opening, the natural call to Self, the great unknowing by which all becomes known, accepted and loved. Don’t be afraid, the call into the unknown is the call home, the call to the ground of your Being, it’s the natural call of freedom and peace. In this moment attention is your true power, your place of healing. The only doing is the seeing, is the accepting. Tender loving attention embracing the aliveness of life.
My heart hurts today.
The loss of a loved one is never easy.
Tender, broken and so wide open.
So full of love, so beautiful.
The waves of emotions, energies and memories break over me when least expected.
Life is a precious thing,
but so is death.
Death brings up so much to the surface
The unavoidable mirror of change
and the inevitability of loss.
The lack of certainty and control,
and the great unknown.
Emotions are high,
everyone dealing with it in their own way,
messy and inelegant.
The appreciation and love for those who are both gone and those who are still here.
All parading past in my heart.
Every moment filled with equal intensity of love and pain.
In memory of my dear Uncle Andrew, 1951-2019