Whenever an emotion, a thought, or a sensation pops up in our consciousness, the usual response of most of us is to resist it. Our consciousness contracts, we identify with the feeling and hold on to it for dear life.
Psychologically we feel like we are stuck in a shell of resistance, like a part of us wants to hold on, while another (if we are conscious enough), wishes to let go and desires the torment to pass.
But not only our psyche, our entire body contracts. Often this can lead to pain in the form of headaches, stomach pain, gastrointestinal issues… and a variety of physical ailments.
The more we are in this state of inner contraction, the more we cut ourselves off not only from good physical and mental health, but also from a sense of peace, joy and even love that is always present here and now. Like an invisible feast that we can only take part of once we take the blinders off our consciousness.
But this sense of contraction can be counteracted.
The first key is awareness. If we are not aware that we are in pain, in resistance, if we are entirely identified with the feeling and the belief structures holding it together, there is little we can do. There may be times when you are so identified with your feelings and thoughts that there is nothing you can do. But sooner or later, awareness heightens and the realization comes that we are in a state of pain. Severe pain is often what gives birth to an expanded awareness and the desire for freedom. At times this desire and with it a greater awareness comes even without the need for pain as the catalyst, in which case it can be a true blessing.
The next key is the understanding that something can be done. That there actually exists a possibility of freedom, of peace – that there is another way. It is something you may have read in a book, been told by a friend or teacher, or perhaps intuitively understood by yourself. If not, then let me be the one to say it – there is another way, there is a possibility of peace no matter the inner and outer drama unfolding in your life.
Firstly, feel what you are feeling and allow it completely. Do not resist or reject it. Allow yourself to notice any thoughts and beliefs, as well as pictures or sounds that may be present with the feeling or sensation. Simply notice then. Then allow yourself to give the feeling, as well as any corresponding thoughts and pictures, space. Allow them to exist, give them the right to exist, to be. As you do this you will see that slowly but surely they will start to relax and dissolve. You may observe them in your consciousness and simply let the feelings move through your body or transform into any shape they wish to. Similarly with pictures and thoughts – allow them to shift and change as they please, as you give them space and watch it unfold.
Search, scan your body and mind – observe it in its entirety, not only your feelings, thoughts and pictures, but also your identity, your self. This can be crucial, as often it is your very identification with a feeling that is preventing it from releasing. Allow yourself to notice yourself, your identity hook in relation to the feeling.
Search yourself for any resistance or rejection of the feeling, or perhaps any deeper issue that is behind the current one – something that may be bothering you even more. Allow yourself to acknowledge and give space to anything you may be experiencing. Become conscious of it all and allow it all to be.
If you become stuck with the process of giving your feelings space, you can also simply allow yourself to feel them directly. This will often lead to their dissipation. Such a method is especially useful when handling hard resistance.
This may seem too simple, but it is extraordinarily powerful. The metaphor of giving your feelings space, of giving them room in your consciousness, is perhaps one that stuck with me most, which is why I’m sharing it with you. If you have ever come in contact with similar teachings, you may have already heard the idea of letting go of resistance, simply being aware and allowing your feelings to be as they are – thus letting them dissolve. This is true and it is a key practice in almost any meditative or introspective practice. But even then I have often found that my consciousness remains contracted. In this case, the metaphor, the notion of giving your feelings space, giving them the right to act out their energy and even expand in your awareness is what has been significantly helpful to me. As you do this, you may see how the feeling moves through the body, morphs into something else entirely, or even expands. Pictures may come into your mind’s eye that may be dreadful and difficult to look at – but allow them anyway and do not fear, all of it will pass.
In this way, you are allowing the energy in the feelings to become conscious. Through giving it space and observing the energy, you are giving it the right to express itself, move through your consciousness and then dissipate. What you are really doing is allowing a repressed part of yourself to express itself, as you acknowledge and observe it, without judgment or resistance.
As this happens and as the feelings dissipate, sometimes you may find that you are pulled into action. A deeper understanding may come and a certain intuitive action may be required. Allow yourself to take such an action if you feel it is appropriate at this time. If feelings and pain are specific to a certain problematic situation, you may find that as you face your feelings about the the issue, clarity will come and an appropriate course of action may arise that will move you closer to a resolution.
Sometimes, if the feelings are very strong and you cannot simply observe them, you may wish to express them with your whole body – allow yourself to do so in a way that is non-harmful to yourself and others. In the case of anger you may be pulled to punch a pillow, to shout,… In the case of grief you may be pulled to cry. Perhaps the feelings itself will pull you into movement and the energy would be best expressed through running or walking. I myself am often pulled towards writing. Usually a private journal, where I express any confusion in my mind, any emotions or thoughts that are bringing me down and bothering me.
In the end, allow yourself to also acknowledge the peace and stillness beyond. If the feelings have dissipated, you can simply rest in space and silence. If they have not and at this time you simply wish to move forward – you can also simply let them go. Like a heavy brick you have been carrying in your hand and then dropping it, simply dropping your feelings can also be a helpful modality in moving forward from them. In this case, a question may be useful – ask yourself: “Can I allow myself to simply let this feeling go?”, or perhaps “Can I simply decide to drop this feeling?”. If the answer is no, then you may inquire again – “Would I rather have this feeling/thought/sensation, or would I rather be free?”. The last one may be quite useful for a deeper sense of discernment, if you are unsure or hesitant to let go.
Questions can be very beneficial even in giving feelings space, in allowing them to be – “Can I allow this feeling to be, can I welcome it?”, “Can I give it the space to be, express itself?”.
There is a possibility to be at peace. Life presents us all with a myriad of challenges, as I have seen so often in my own experience. I have had a series of very difficult challenges and have faced a ton of inner turmoil in the years past, but gradually even the worst of hell can be overcome.
The means to deal with our inner world and thus with both external and internal challenges (dealing with your inner world will always have a direct effect on your external life – the inner always precedes the outer, all actions start with a thought), are often occulted and hidden in our society. Optimally, dealing with one’s inner world should be taught freely at the very beginning of a child’s education. But because it is not, the majority of us spend our whole lives contracted and in resistance, using drugs, alcohol and a myriad of escapist tactics in order to never look within (with the advent of computers and the Internet, these have multiplied manifold). Mostly this is because we are afraid to do so, of being overwhelmed and overpowered. In the beginning and at times of great strife it may seem and even be that way, but I can tell you that there is no inner challenge too difficult to overcome. The journey can, for some, be long and arduous, but as the inner is conquered, the outer will slowly become its harmonious reflection.
Behind all your pain, peace is available to you. Allow yourself to claim it.
Some discussion threads related to this article can be read on Reddit, here: