This weekend I was able to hear one of my favorite speakers, Tara Brach–she wrote the book entitled Radical Acceptance one of my favorite books of all time.
Something you hear me talk a lot about is awareness. We need to be aware of our feelings, thoughts, needs, values, what we like or don’t like, how we want to spend our time, etc. Without awareness, there can be no growth, no change. I also believe that from our awareness there needs to come curiosity–a desire to dig deeper about ourselves and figure out what’s happening beneath our feelings and needs. However, the step I forget about, especially personally, and the one I think is most needed is the step between awareness and curiosity. This step involves allowing what is happening now. Having a pause between awareness and curiosity and giving ourselves space to allow the emotion, thought or need. To sit in non-judgement of it, to just allow it to be. It doesn’t mean you have to like it or feel comfortable but give that thought, emotion, need a chance to come up and be acknowledged.
It was a refreshing reminder for me of the power of that pause, that space to allow myself to feel and be whatever it is I am aware of. In her book and her presentation, Tara told a wonderful story about a psychologist who had Alzheimer’s. He had come to a conference with his wife, to present on his latest study. As he stood before the audience, he realized he couldn’t remember what he had come there to say. He stood there utterly perplexed as to why he was in front of the audience and what his speech was about. Can you imagine the terror, the sheer panic that must have been running through his veins? But rather than panic he started naming everything he was aware of ‘I am afraid’, and then he would bow his head, ‘people are staring’, bow his head, ‘my heart is racing’, bow his head. He did this over and over and when he finished the speech people came up to him and said how they had never seen someone teach them awareness/presence and meditation like that before. He was able to be present to the flood of emotions, thoughts, and needs he was experiencing.
As a therapist, I admit I am constantly looking for meaning, trying to analyze and figure out WHY I am feeling a certain way or what is going on underneath. Sometimes the power just comes in the allowing, in the surrender to what we are aware of and it doesn’t need to go any deeper than that. When I practice this surrender it is like a huge exhale occurs, an opening up of my heart and my body. I can give myself a break and just allow myself to be present in love and kindness to myself.
So today pay attention to the awarenesses you have and then bless them. Whether through a silent or verbal ‘yes’ or ‘I consent’ or physically bowing or touching your heart (my personal favorite). Allow yourself to be present to whatever comes up. THEN if it is necessary to dig a little deeper and have some curiosity.