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Holding space for the uncomfortable

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ― Rumi

Mindfulness teaches us to be present and engaged in the moment, but how can we do so when the moment is uncomfortable? A common experience for some of us may be to avoid the experience(s) that bring us tension. We may have been taught to “grin and bear it” in order to fit into the societal belonging of what is acceptable behavior. We avoid situations in order to appear “resilient,” “strong,” “unaffected.” We shut down and turn off to pretend that the pain is not there, so therefore, there is no problem to address. Our culture relies heavily on various forms of influences that numb and take us out of our bodies, hearts, and minds in order to dismiss any pain that is weighing on us. We purposefully avoid and use coping mechanisms as the route out of facing the painful realities. Whether we’re anchored in past, present, or future worries, it is natural and human nature to not want to confront those uncomfortable feelings. So how do we stay present when the moment is uncomfortable?

The Buddha taught us to accept all that is, but I think we all can agree that it is easier said than done. So where do we start? How can we practice more accepting awareness in the moments that bring us discomfort?

At the heart of anything that brings discomfort, there is some type of story around our own personal healing. Whether it is an uncomfortable emotion, past experience, or current mental, emotional, or physical state, we are asked to acknowledge the wound(s) head on. I included the above Rumi quote which directly speaks to this idea and more. When we hold space for all that is, including the uncomfortable, we open our energy to new wisdom and growth. When we have the compassion to sit with the hurt parts of ourselves that need a voice, we move out of our own dark shadows and begin to touch new light.

When we practice mindfulness and awareness in the present moment, we have tools to guide us through the difficult times. We can remove the fear of seeing what is uncomfortable by simply naming it as it is: “This is weird,” “This is hurt,” “This is frustrating,” “This is anxiety,” “This is grief,” etc. We begin to remove the layer of intensity when we have the courage to see our discomforts upfront. Oftentimes inner and environmental silence can also help us to see the uncomfortable with a renewed sense of comfort and peace. If we are not able to achieve silence in our external environment, we can access peace in other ways. Our breath can be a very intentional tool when working with discomfort. We can select a word to breathe in as a source of manifestation and breathe out a word that represents what we wish to release. We may breathe in “acceptance,” “understanding,” and we may breathe out “regret,” “anger,” etc. We can also remind ourselves that in our decision to allow and accept difficult circumstances to come into our full awareness, we take advantage of the gifts that will result.

In the moments that you feel discomfort surface in any shape or form, ask yourself to pause. What is there? Give the experience room to be heard, seen, and felt. Allow yourself the silence in being with that emotion, thought, memory, etc. Remain grounded in your body and in your breath if you experience waves of emotions, sensations, and thoughts arise. Remind yourself that “this too shall pass,” and energy is always moving and transforming.

We allow experiences to move in empowering ways when we offer reflection and observance to what is present. From roots of struggle there is always opportunity. Be gentle with yourself, be true with yourself, and always be compassionate with yourself in however you are showing up in the present. Our full being deserves attention in order to grow, strengthen, and share our light from a source of inner knowing. Offer yourself the opportunity to transform in this way and recognize the gifts that can benefit yourself and others. Challenge yourself to be open to the dark side within your story and embrace it with loving-kindness. Strive to embrace the “feel good” and the “not so feel good” as a means to honor your full sense of self and inner journey. Hold space for the uncomfortable and discover a new sense of liberation.

Have a lovely weekend!

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