“Lean into the sharp points” ~Chogyam Trunga Rinpoche
I’ve been noticing the tension I sometimes feel during my work day – the unease and discomfort that may come with changing priorities, uncertain objectives, difficult people, etc. A sense of chaos can pervade and leave me feeling ungrounded. My instinct is to label the stuff as ‘bad’ and try to push away my negative feelings or resist the unknowing. As I labelled the latest thing, I got to wondering about a different way.
I found myself remembering how overwhelmed with fear I was last year when diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, I knew there would be uncertainty, anger, and doubt along the way. My intuition told me I couldn’t bury or run away from that ‘negative’ stuff and come out of the experience completely healthy. In a yoga class one day, the instructor suggested sitting next to my tension, to just be with my troubling thoughts and feelings. I started trying that when I experienced uncomfortable emotions. I would just breathe and imagine myself sitting next to whatever the feeling was.
You know what I found? When I sat with the hard stuff – when I really allowed myself to feel it, see it, name it, fully step into it and experience it, not resist it or try to control it or make it go away – it lifted…and left me with hope.
A book I received last week from a dear friend entitled When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron caused me to ask how I might use what I learned during my cancer experience to move through challenges at work. What if I leaned into my feelings when things felt hard, overwhelming, heavy, frustrating, tiresome? So here’s what I am playing with during the upcoming month to open to my fear and lean into the unknowing. Maybe you want to try, too?
- Notice what I am feeling. Observe it.
- Be still. Pause. Open to it. Rest with it.
- Breathe. Relax. Slow the chatter in my mind.
- Listen. Bring my attention to the feeling without trying to control it. What is it telling me?
- Name it. Label it. Describe it. Maybe write about it or tell someone else about it.
- Visualize it. Imagine myself sitting next to the emotion I have named.
- Be with it. Bow to it. Maybe embrace it. Maybe touch it. Call it a friend?
- Then, go back to doing what I was doing. Don’t hold onto it or confine it. Just let it be.
- Note what happens.
Quotes to Contemplate
- In our fear we believe we must make things happen; in our practice we learn to let things happen. ~Rolf Gates
- By taking a breath, we accept the invitation to linger in the restful sense of just being present. Lingering in the moment – even for just a split second – can be very personal and touching. ~Michael Carroll
- Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness. ~James Thurber
- One must be able to let things happen. ~C.G. Jung
- The thing in us we fear just wants our love. ~Marsha Sintar
- Making friends with our own demons and their accompanying insecurity leads to a very simple, understated relaxation and joy. ~Pema Chodron
- There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul. ~Arnold Bennet
- Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world. ~Hans Margolius
© copyright Vicki L. Flaherty, Leading With Intention, 2012