Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Letting the Light In

A friend read this recent post of mine here and inquired, "Does that mean the bigger the wound, the more light?" I had to ponder that one. My friend continued, "In theory, it should let in more light, but we humans curl ourselves around our wounds in the mistaken belief that we can protect ourselves from even more pain. In truth, it makes it harder to heal, and perhaps harder for light and peace to enter."

I gave her words some time to sink in, and I realized that she was right. In the past, I have been too afraid to probe the depth of the pain, unwilling to let the sadness turn me inside out, certain that the tears would never stop once they began. In retrospect, I suffered mightily, not so much from the loss, the heartbreak, the missed opportunity, but rather from not being willing to explore, accept, and ultimately release those emotions and turn them over. Buddhist author, Pema Chodron, has a line I love: "Never underestimate the inclination to bolt when hurt. Stay. Unhappiness lies with exiting, with pointing away from the discomfort."

Over the years, my practice has matured. Today, rather than curling myself up, I am able to allow the pain, almost invite it, if you will, to have its way with me. Funny thing is, when I simply allow the pain, or the anticipated feeling of pain, to wash over me, it dissipates rather quickly, on its own, without a great deal of fanfare and/or damage. Fearing and holding on to it is what causes my suffering. My friend commented further, "It takes courage to deal with pain that way, especially if the wound is deep, there is often a fear that if you allow it free rein, it will consume you or shatter you into a million pieces." I have learned that the pain is more toxic, more debilitating, the longer I allow it to live, unchecked, in my psyche. Face-to-face with my fear of the pain, it often leaves with a faint trace of its "much ado about nothing" former self, supplanting light where darkness used to be.

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