The purpose of these strategies is to keep us from feeling pain. And in the avoidance of pain, we stay stuck in a limited view of ourselves and life, denying the peace and contentment that are rightfully ours.
Take a look at any problem that persists in your life, and I can guarantee that there are unexplored feelings driving it.
If you truly want to live in freedom, openness, and full aliveness, then learn how to be with challenging experiences. When they’re met with love and care, they lose their power, they relax, and the expansiveness of your true nature is revealed. Consider these pointers, and watch your life transform.
Be willing. Find openness within yourself to be with whatever experiences arise in you. Vow to stay open to them, even if it’s hard.
Know your strategies. Reflect on your particular avoidance strategies. Become an expert in what triggers them and how they play out in you so you can know when you’re turning away from hard experiences.
Peel the onion. Start with any emotional reaction, and create a spacious field of compassion in your mind and heart to let the feelings be present as they are. Let go of your thoughts about the feelings, and bring your attention to the actual direct
experience of them. Give them the open, loving space they need. Then keep going whenever feelings arise.
Be aware of the sensations in your body. Make space for movement, blockages, energy, and whatever wants to come.
Can you feel the freedom in this approach? Eventually, you might notice something miraculous. What you thought was hard and even scary is just more experience arising and passing on. It’s energy, bodily movement, the release of breath, maybe tears, but not something that you need to avoid.
Turning inward to welcome what is puts you in harmony with things as they are, and you are bound to notice a number of happy side effects.
Effortlessness. Being afraid of our feelings and using strategies to avoid them is draining. We are constantly on the lookout for any shred of discomfort, then scurry to deflect from it. These inner dynamics sap energy, and simply being restores it.
Truth. Strategies to avoid our feelings contain within them a subtle lie. We are lying to ourselves about the full reality of what is happening in the moment, and at some level we know it. Telling the truth about what’s actually here might be difficult, but what
we gain is a deep sense of integrity.
Transformation. When we offer our loving attention to the most buried fragments of ourselves, we can’t help but change. When we are no longer driven by unconscious forces, we feel relaxed, whole, loving, and clear.
Empathy. When we welcome our feelings with love and acceptance, we connect with the universality of life beyond our personal selves. Fear is not just “my fear,” but we realize that everyone feels it. Same with sadness, loss, shame, or inadequacy. We naturally feel
tender toward others who are suffering.
We don’t need to go searching for difficult experiences. As Adyashanti says in the quote above, life offers them to us for our awakening. Invite yourself to discover great value in hard things. You’ll be grounded, present, and available to all.