Dissolving Issues With Awareness
How to Find and Release Physical Pain During a Spiritual Awakening
Furthermore, I want to be clear that having awakened spiritually is not a prerequisite to using your awareness to dissolve issues. Any one of you can do this.
When we look at an issue or old pain with awareness, we are taking our energy away from it. We relax to make space for something to come up, and then when a thought, physical pain or emotion arises, we simply look at it without trying to justify it, fight it, flee it, or any of that. Because issues take a lot of energy to believe in, hold onto, repress, and so forth, they often come up quickly simply when we shift to this perspective.
Especially for the body, letting go and releasing takes on the form of relaxation. Holding on requires physical tension. Many of you may already have discovered how tense you are all the time. That's merely a sign that you are holding onto things in your body. Bringing greater relaxation into your spiritual practice will open you up to what is being held down and locked inside of you. And when you relax and open up, that's when the fun begins.
So after someone has done loads of good work to unnumb and get relatively healthy, it can be more than a little demoralizing to have this really intense and upsetting energy start to emerge. People erroneously think they're doing something wrong. You're not. You're now getting to the energy of that lightning strike (childhood sexual abuse, extreme emotional abuse, PTSD from service during battle, etc.), and that energy is intense. The intensity triggers a deep human response to run or fight the feeling, and this is inherently a tensing response. As such, the way to actually approach this emerging energy is to relax.
The Critical Practice of Relaxing Into PainFor those of you bodyworkers or those of you who have worked with a bodyworker (massage therapist, rolfer, etc.), you already know that muscles release when you relax into the knot that is being worked on. If you don't, the muscles stay balled up in a bundle of miserable tension. And it is a typical human response to physically tense our bodies whenever we feel threatened. As far as I know, this is part of marshaling our inner forces to run, freeze, or fight. If you pay attention to your body throughout your day, you may notice interesting times when you are tensing up. This tensing is a sign that on some level, you're feeling threatened. It can be anywhere from a mild to high-level response to something, and it varies by the person.
In my experience, the more inner pain someone is holding inside, the more quickly they elevate a situation in their mind to a high-level of threat. For instance, someone who was raped as a young child and could never address that trauma may feel threatened all the time. Even a casual shrug of someone's shoulders can be misinterpreted into a huge emotional threat. "Oh no, this person is dismissing me. They must hate me. I feel worthless," this type of person might say. Their body quickly locks up, and they assume whatever their behavior pattern they've adopted. This could mean becoming irrationally argumentative with the person who shrugged their shoulders, wanting to get away from the person, or simply freezing and becoming non-communicative.
With all that said, the more you notice that you're tensing, the more you can make a different choice. You can choose to relax.
Relaxation Through Mindful BreathingI know that I have talked a lot about mindful breathing on this blog, and I'll continue to do so. It is such a natural and present doorway into relaxation and addressing our inner issues. When we slow our breath down and deepen it, our bodies naturally want to relax. I tend to teach mindful breathing as appropriate to the student with whom I am sitting. I often have them breathe into areas where there is the most pain or tension. Pain is how the body communicates to us, so where the pain is the greatest, the body is simply telling you to prioritize this pain first. Even if this isn't the root pain, addressing the first issue will help you find the second, third, fourth, and eventually get to the root cause. In this way, we embrace pain, and we find a new level of appreciation for it.
Because without physical pain, we can do horrible damage to ourselves. If you can't feel pain in your hand, you would never notice that it was getting burned in a fire until you smelled it. In this way, pain immediately tells us to move our hand now!
So as we breathe, we can notice pain. As we notice pain and bring more attention to it, we can start to relax further and let the issue unfold.
Witnessing and Experiencing PainThere is a beautiful intersection between the human being that experiences life and the place of the timeless witness that sees all and is all. As you learn to witness emotions, physical pain, and beliefs, then you can also be with your human experience from a place of clarity. When we do this with an issue that is coming up, we have taken out our agenda from the issue. We are placing our energy at the space of the witness while allowing the inner experience to unfold.
At first, this seems very hard, and it's only because we have so deeply practiced getting lost in ideas, feelings, and physical sensations. We have gotten lost in our egos. But as you practice this tool, you will learn to let go of your attachments to these things. The attachment to these old thought patterns and so forth is the energetic cord to them. It charges and re-charges them on a daily basis. This energy--your energy--is why these issues feel so powerful. In an another metaphor I use, I talk about learning to watch everything going on inside you like a spectator at a play or a movie. Remember that you are always the spectator, and even if you get caught up taking on a role on the stage again, then take another breath. Take another breath or three and come back to your seat. The scene unfolding on the stage may seem like it's about you, but it's really not. The actors and actresses may wear your face and those of others you know, but the story going on isn't about you at all.
And yet, even as you witness this unfold, you will feel these old pains. You may feel them quite acutely, but in feeling them with conscious awareness, they can resolve themselves.
Continuing to Relax as Intense Pains BuildUsually before a pain really releases, it gets worse. It does everything it can to draw you back into believing it, repressing it, or whatever you have been doing with it. Right when it is blackest, this is the most important time to breathe and relax. Find that space of awareness that is always with you. Bring more attention there as you breathe. Bring just a little more of the energy of awareness away from this intense thing. At the same time, keep listening.
Because as I said, pain is a communication tool, and this old pain is telling you an old story that you need to hear. Sometimes you simply need to cry while witnessing this sadness. This sounds like a contradiction, but it's not. Many of you know this, especially some of my students who have experienced this in your own work and with me. As you witness this sadness, the pain talks to you. It can talk about many, many things in words, images, feelings, and sensations. It can talk about feeling neglected by your father. It can talk about feeling abandoned by your birth mother and being put up for adoption. It talks in powerful emotional strength and physical energy, and sometimes the unconscious ego feels like you will be destroyed.
But you won't. Because you are timeless. The unconscious ego self can be destroyed, but in the space that is created, you can find greater freedom, which is what this path is about.
The Energy Settles; You Come into a More Natural FlowAs that old energy resolves, you often go through a time of expansion because you have more of your energy unlocked. It's not new energy. It's simply the energy that was in the issue and the energy used to suppress or avoid the issue. This energy is now yours again, and this returned energy can make you feel renewed and blissful for a time.
But then the next issue is revealed. It is revealed because you have more or your energy moving. The more of you that is flowing, the more quickly rocks and roadblocks are founded. The more of you that is flowing, the more intensely the next issue may come up. You haven't done anything wrong if you find more issues after a major release of old pain and issues. You are doing things quite right, and the more you flow through these issues, the more you simply flow in life.
And then, you may mature to the point where it is only natural to embrace these issues. You know how to relax into them and how to de-energize them. You know they're not real, but if left unaddressed that they will limit your life and cause you greater damage. In this way, you truly are embracing your light and growing and relaxing into the beautiful life that is most true for you.