Running from the Bogeyman

In every moment our inner world is active with emotions (joy, anger, sadness, and fear), thoughts about past and future, and sensations in our body (pressure, aching, spaciousness, expansion, etcetera).

Modern culture, the media, maybe our families, our jobs, sometimes our peers ask us to be productive and to fit into a box of what kinds of emotions and expressions are acceptable. We learn to avoid our internal experience in order to try to fit in.

But this comes at a cost. We become anxious about our fear, depressed about our sadness, enraged about our anger. We don’t learn how to “be” with ourselves, with our dynamic inner world. It becomes like the boogeyman in our closet and we run from it. We do this through all kinds of addictive behaviors- drugs, alcohol, food, sex, love, TV, movies, internet, Facebook, overwork, perfectionism, etc.

Mindfulness is about pausing the urgency to escape, without making those urges wrong or bad. It is about becoming aware of what drives our own running… learning how to sit in the discomfort of that urgency without needing to run anymore. Mindfulness is about being willing to experience pain in life, because pain is an inevitable part of being human. But it is also about moving away from suffering, because suffering is pain + the belief that our pain is wrong. When we learn to sit with the pain, the suffering eases.

Right now, as you are reading this, can you pause and feel into your body? Maybe close your eyes… Take a few breaths into your belly. And just notice what is there, inside. What emotions are you experiencing? What sensations are present in your body? You could ask yourself, “What is asking for acceptance right now?”  Can you welcome your experience, just as it is? And can you also give permission for the parts of you that want to change your experience, or to run away from it? As you move through your day today, I invite you to continue asking this question, “What is asking for acceptance right now?” This is a process of ever widening circle, allowing one part of yourself, one feeling to be okay and then another, and then another.

This is courageous work, to stop and turn to face ourselves in this way. And I believe that it is an essential part of returning to our own wholeness. I would love to hear about your explorations!

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