Have you noticed that the experience of suffering is provoked when we don’t give ourselves, and others, permission to simply be where we are in any given moment before we swiftly demand clarity, decision-making, certainty or assert ourselves into fix-it and change-it mode?
I’m curious about the propensity to avoid ‘messiness’ or ’emotions’ that our culture banishes so quickly, in a business, professional or intimate relationship context.
One definition for messiness is ‘a state of confusion and disorderliness’. Don’t we all feel this arise almost daily if even for just one moment?
If we are messy or emotional, perhaps even diving off the deep end, shouldn’t there be room for this too? As far as I can tell it’s occurring anyway.
If we ignore it what do we begin to believe, unconsciously, about life? How does that inform what we attract and create in our lives?
The more we can grant ourselves permission to be with our present experience the easier it is to grant it to another.
When we embrace the view that our shadows are as significant as our joy and passion we are on a different journey than the traditional one of ‘avoid feeling and exploring your fear, create illusions of control and pretend to be what you think is acceptable’.
Opening into and witnessing what is present in our experience is the entry point to a path of deepening into an authentic relationship with ourselves and all the forms in which life appears to us. I experience this as the path of courage, integration, wholeness and true freedom.
Our innate wisdom to organize in a particular way to survive is a brilliant strategy; now it’s time to bring these strategies into conscious awareness and find out if they are still necessary.
The journey is one of exploring and familiarizing ourselves with how our system has organized itself to survive.
The permission to meet and welcome these strategies is what allows new organization to occur in our system.
Meeting Our Present Experience Can Shift Early Trauma and Painful Imprints
When traversing this path it is important to find other ‘like-hearted travelers’ seeking to make room for our wide range of experiences even when it feels like we are going to die. We encourage each other and grant the permission we so desperately need to meet what is scary and uncomfortable.
What haunts us in the present is usually associated with a past experience or belief planted in perhaps the earliest time of our existence or an unexpected trauma that we’ve survived.
How do we support each other to stay with the present experience rather than get lost in the mind’s interpretations and stories?
Most of us on a spiritual path experience a gravitational pull to be more present and to discover how our current reality is a mirror reflection of our beliefs, survival strategies and traumas.
We become curious about familiar patterns that continue to show up in our lives; not as evidence that we are trapped in a defeating pattern that we must change but rather an opportunity to invite the deeper healing to unfold now.
What if the greatest gift we can offer each other is the encouragement to become intimate with our present experience?
Rather than becoming mesmerized by the interpretations or stories of what is occurring we lean into the raw physical sensations, emotions and physiological responses of what is arising in the current moment?
Following the Warrior’s Path
In the past 10 years I have made a commitment to follow the path of truth, the warrior’s path. This practice is about being present to the burning in my heart, the tension in my shoulders or strong emotions in lieu of the stories that the mind can spin taking me miles away from the experience now.
This is where ‘permission to be exactly as we are’ is most critical. It’s hard to accept myself when I feel vulnerable and protective; often responding through isolating from others when what I really need is nourishing contact to settle my system.
When I was 13 years old my older brother, who I looked up to as a hero, was killed in a car accident. It crushed my already tender heart and wavering capacity to trust life. Everyone in my family was in shock and bewildered.
We were all coping in the best possible way we could. My Mom, in the midst of her own deep grief, responded to my grief cries with, ‘You can never know what it’s like to lose a son!’. She was right. She was in her experience and yet at my age I interpreted that as I have no right to feel the way I feel. It’s so easy to misunderstand when we are in deep pain.
I did what many of us do when our experience feels ‘unacceptable’. I stuffed it. Rather than addressing it I turned to skipping school, quit participating on sport teams and starting drinking alcohol. I was coping. It was a good strategy to keep me alive and yet I was a zombie.
I share this to illustrate how we often misinterpret messages and conclude that it’s not okay to be emotional or devastated, confused, scared and traumatized. The message is, ‘don’t be yourself’. These moments can imprint what we believe about the world and how to navigate safely.
This is the heart of spiritual awakening; to see through the beliefs and voices that tell us we should be different. These stories are challenged when we take a moment to rest and see them as a story and not a representation of who we really are. Humans are weavers of stories and that doesn’t need to change. We just need to remember that the freedom is in resting when each story arises rather than chasing them as a reality.
Every one of us has the capacity to remove these subtle ways we limit our full expression; to meet, welcome and love our way back home through a direct engagement with our present experience. Sometimes we need a partner to guide us into our experience slowly and gently because it’s too much to do alone.
Reorganizing and Updating our Survival Strategies
As we enter a path of seeking truth and healing we begin to integrate these parts of us that have felt banished and unacceptable. It’s not always easy, however, the movement is growing and people are joining together to witness one another return to the fullness of their brilliance by meeting the shadows as sacred teachers.
Through working with the emotions, body and developing a conscious relationship with the ever-present quality of awareness, as a witness, we create an opportunity to experience freedom.
How do you give yourself permission to contact your immediate experience, even when it feels like hell and the stories are so compelling and distracting?
How do you support yourself so that you build trust with the process of falling apart and feeling insane?
How do you then extend this out towards others and allow them to be confused, indecisive, uncertain, scared and in need of a quick fix?
What would be different about the world if we reflected permission to one another to be messy?