Transforming our pain — How to be with what is
This morning, I passed my cold-ridden, conjunctivitis-infected daughter to my husband to go on a much-needed date avec moi. I had been invited to the workshop Live Energy Rich, presented by Dr. Cynthia Bergh of Le Coeur in West Asheville, and the opportunity to be somewhere other than my house and be someone other than “Mommy” for a couple hours was too enticing to pass up.
The workshop, centered around accessing more energy in living our lives, was an introductory session to what is a six-part series. I was excited to learn more and meet some new faces, but didn’t expect any huge breakthroughs in the short time of two hours.
All the same, a breakthrough is exactly what I got.
After the workshop introduction and receiving some guidance from the friendly Dr. Cindy, we were led into an experiential exercise. Participants were invited to move their breath into a constricted part of their bodies, while voicing a declarative such as “Sometimes things are not so easy,” or “Sometimes I feel so alone."
As I laid with my back on the floor and eyes closed, I said those simple words and breathed into what was tight — and waves of emotion abruptly rushed through me.
The loneliness I sometimes feel as a stay at home mom; the never-ending challenges of being a new parent; the feelings that are always right there but so often pushed past in order to “be okay” and make it to another day.
As I declared these feelings to myself, to the room, I felt a ripple of energy cascade down my spine and the area into which I was breathing expanded and released. When I sat up, I found I was not the only one with tears in my eyes.
It was astounding, how simply breathing into what was in myself allowed such an instant release and transformation.
As I drove home, I thought about how often we avoid being with what is hard in our lives. When things don’t feel good, it is our natural inclination to try to move away from them.
Don’t feel good in our bodies? Get absorbed in work or television. Don’t feel good in a relationship? Avoid the person or blame them for what’s wrong. Exhausted beyond belief from life? Just keep pushing, just keep smiling until we’re over the hump. We tell ourselves that if we protect ourselves from the pain in our lives, that it will resolve itself somehow, maybe. But healing doesn’t work that way.
What healing does is ask us to arrive at the scene. Healing asks for our attention, asks us for our willingness to be with what is uncomfortable. It asks us to make friends with our pain, our darkness, our sadness, our weary souls. Because when we make ourselves scarce, when we disconnect, the pain moves deeper, the constriction grows tighter, the feelings harden and we become numb. We lose ourselves.
So maybe we start by moving closer to our own selves, and then we can edge closer to each other, to the world. While we all long for peace between nations and a healthy planet, we must first acknowledge our own dried up emotional riverbeds, our own personal wars within the spirit.
And if that courageous work of presence, of attention, can take root in our collective consciousness, perhaps it will begin to spill over. Perhaps we will all arrive arm and arm together to greet the pain of our world, so that it can finally, at long last, transform.