I did an experiment yesterday. I sat back and actually watched my thoughts, and like a court reporter, I noted them with incredible detail. Some thoughts were familiar and warm and fuzzy, oh you really are a stupendous mother; others were random and inconsequential, do I need to buy brussel sprouts today; and others were a doorway to a downward spiral of darkness that I am all too familiar with; I’m scared.
I just watched them. I could see that the sad, angry, fearful thoughts wanted to put their hooks in my body, in familiar places where they’ve previously nested. But I didn’t let that happen—this time. I spoke to the thoughts and said, there there, this is just a thought, it is not true. And my brain felt calm, able to be present.
Many spiritual and meditation teachers have their own particular methods of teaching how to be present, stay present, and particularly how to be with pain. No one wants to be with pain. It’s the most normal biological urge to flee pain, but as we all know, oftentimes the only way out of pain, be it emotional or physical, is to breathe through it, and let it pass over us or through us, like a cloud or wave, or whatever metaphor works. But the gripping and clenching doesn’t work. Can I take a poll on how many of us wear nightguards for all the clenching we do at night?
If we are in real danger, yes, we should take action. But much of the danger we feel from thoughts and emotions are just those—thoughts and emotions. A good question to ask ourselves is, is this thought helpful or not? If it makes us feel sick to our stomach filled with dread, then my guess is that it’s not. So, just tell that thought, thank you, maybe you helped me get out of some pretty horrible situations in the past, but I’ve got a different way to do things now. And put your hands on your chest and send love throughout your body.
Because you are loved. We forget that. We get hooked by our feelings and thoughts and we forget that we are loved. And that we are strong. That we are more than our thoughts or emotions. That we are bigger than our dysfunctional childhoods, trauma, and any mistake we’ve made. We are so much more.
Martha Beck has a wonderful practice for moments like this; she puts her hands on her chest and breathes in and says to herself, I accept this moment exactly as it is, and she breathes out and says, I surrender. Again, it doesn’t mean we don’t take action when action is required, but we take action from a place of presence, which always is a place filled with light. Filled with the much-moreness of you!
Poet Danusha Lameris says that you can’t think in the dark, so put the light on. I like that. When things feel overwhelming, put the light on, shine some love and come back to the truth, the truth that you are so much more.