In the shared quiet, an invitation arises like a white dove lifting from a limb and taking flight.
Come and live in truth. Take your place in the flow of grace.
Draw aside the veil you thought would always separate your heart from love.
All you ever longed for is before you in this moment if you dare draw in a breath and whisper ‘Yes.’
White Dove by Danna Fauld
We all have times in our lives when things feel overwhelming; when we feel a tremendous weight resting upon our very shoulders. There’s this contracting inward or closing off that is common nature when we face hardship or difficulty. We can work toward gently unraveling these places inside that have been zipped up. Some of us perpetually keep things inside, stuffing down (or zipping up) uncomfortable feelings in the hopes that these unpleasant feelings will go away, but I can assure you that the unpleasantness doesn’t just go away, it will eventually bubble up and demand your attention – and often even more aggressively and belligerently.
There’s a saying that keeps coming up for me recently ‘Being comfortable with the uncomfortable’. My first reaction is ‘how can I be comfortable when it feels so darn awful?’ so I have been working with a simple exercise to become more at ease with feelings of anxiety or overwhelm.
Pause – Breathe – Notice
- Find a quiet space
- Pause – first just pause and turn your attention inward to your inner sensations – close your eyes if possible
- Breathe – simply observe the breath flowing in and out
- Notice – notice what you’re feeling and where in the body you’re feeling it (might be tightness or tension or jitteriness – might be in the belly, the chest, the throat or maybe the hands)
- Continue with relaxed breaths, noticing the sensations – allow yourself to feel what you feel with a gentle kindness – there is no requirement to change anything, no expectation, and no judgment – just notice and feel with an honest listening to what’s here in the body
- Ask yourself (in the expert words of meditation teacher, Tara Brach) ‘Is there some place in my body that might relax a little right now? Somewhere that might soften and open just a little?’
As I mentioned, we are not trying to force anything to be different or ‘better’; we are simply observing what we’re experiencing and perhaps becoming more comfortable with ‘what is’ ~ with this recognition things might soften just a little. Remember though, that’s not the goal; we are just Pausing, Breathing, and Noticing.
At this point you may be feeling a little more grounded, a little less anxious (or whatever it is you’re feeling) and you may not – which is totally fine too. When we arrive fully inside ourselves, we find healing; when we make space for what exists inside with kindness and curiosity, we also make space for change and shift. A subtle shift can move us toward healing.
This is the point in my own practice when I choose to invite loving kindness and compassion into my heart, I invite tenderness and peace to reside there – it often helps to place your hands on your heart. Continue to breathe into your hands (keep your eyes closed if you can), and now think of surrounding yourself with tender loving care and compassion … continue to breathe and imagine being embraced with a warm hug.
The Buddhist tradition of Metta (loving kindness) first directs Metta toward ourselves, then directs it outward to others and eventually to all beings.
So once you have intentionally directed Metta to yourself as instructed above, then take a few moments to direct this peaceful loving kindness to all beings everywhere.
Finishing your meditation in this way is like blanketing the globe with a soft, warm lovingly-woven coverlet. It is with this genuine wish for all beings everywhere that we find universal connection and harmony.
We can rest knowing that ~ we belong ~ we are held ~ in the divine presence of love that is at the root of the universe.