Turn towards or turn away

A sensation of discomfort arises, but before you consciously register your discomfort,  your “autopilot” cuts in and you turn away from the sensation. You turn towards your habitual distractions – distractions we’ve all been conditioned to pursue: work, shopping, TV, sex, alcohol or another drug/activity. We are very creative, so there are lots to choose from. All of this happens in a split second. It’s so automatic, so fast, you don’t see it; you don’t know it’s happened, but it is precisely this loop which keeps you stuck, repeating unwanted behaviours in spite of your conscious desire to change.

If we are ever to find peace in our hearts then we must learn first to recognize, then turn towards and integrate these uncomfortable feelings. Perhaps just the thought of facing such feelings might make your heart go a bit faster, but if you can just gently hold these feelings in your awareness with an attitude of open curiosity, with kindness towards yourself, with a sense of gratitude for what the sensation might contain, you will discover that there is a lot of space around that sensation, you discover that within the shell of the discomfort is a jewel of growth, of self-realization.

Instead of fearing the sensation, instead of moving away from it, we can treat it like a friend, sit with it for a while, “have a cuppa” with it, curious but also patient to find out what it wants to tell us. As we practice, so we become more skilful; we face, welcome, explore these sensations, absorbing the jewel contained within. But beware! None of this is done by trying or forcing but by simply being, simply observing with patience and humility, with gentle kindness and with humour.

This is how the unseen harmful distortions in our perception become clear then fall away. This is how we tend the “vegetable garden” of our lives, how we become more connected with our lives and with the miracle, the beauty, the joy of existence.

Resilience means that we are able to face and integrate the feeling, learn the lesson and move on to the next lesson. 

Turn towards or turn away

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