Once we start to develop a greater awareness of and sense of approach towards our experience, we will inevitably encounter feelings (in and out of meditation practice) that we are not so fond of:pain, fear, rejection, anger, sadness, jealousy to name a few of the usual suspects.
When these less palatable experiences arise, the invitation is to notice them, honour their presence and allow them to unfold a little bit in our awareness. We don’t have to like our feelings in order to make room for them. If we are fearful about something, we can let our fear be there as it is. In fact the closer we get to the felt sense of that emotion in the body, oftentimes the quicker the fear moves through us and fades away.
It’s when we try to avoid the experience altogether or fix the experience in some way by changing the way we feel, that our fear about a situation becomes more sticky, hanging around even like a bad smell.
All this may sound a little counter intuitive, particularly if our habitual strategy with feelings of disquiet is to brush them under the carpet or set them aside for another day. However in getting closer to the things we are fearful of, we have a better chance of seeing them for what they are.
So try to treat these ‘unwelcome guests’ with curiosity rather than aversion. Approaching our feelings and creating space for them in this way takes patience, courage and a gentleness towards oneself. After all, mindfulness practice isn’t about feeling better necessarily, it’s about getting better at feeling; feeling all types of feelings, including those aforementioned ‘challenges’ above.
Image courtesy of SKINNER, This fear You May know