"If you flee from the wound, you only give it more power over you. Eventually your emotional body becomes like an abandoned, haunted house. The more you flee the pain of unlove, the more it festers in the dark and the more haunted your house becomes. And the more haunted it becomes the more it terrifies you. This is the vicious circle that keeps you cut off from and afraid of yourself.
But when you can meet yourself in the place of unlove, this starts to open the doors and windows of the haunted house, letting in sunlight and fresh air. Gradually the house becomes more livable. Through learning to tolerate painful or vulnerable feelings, you develop a new muscle.
...By meeting yourself in the place where you feel unmet, something new and powerful happens. Something so simple yet so radical: You start to inhabit yourself. You reinhabit your...heart and bring it back to life" (81-2).
Some huge takeaways here: to not decide is still to decide. For example, If I know that I am experiencing a tinge of anxiety in my chest and I keep it "off the table" of my embodiment practice for a week...or two, I am reinforcing, strengthening my ability to ignore my body's signals. By deciding to not investigate it, get nearer to it, or touch it, I am tacitly agreeing to strengthen the muscle of defensiveness, of avoidance. I am always strengthening a muscle!
Practice is choosing. Choosing is practice.
Welwood: "Being present with yourself like this is an act of love that unlocks the door to your deepest resources. There is a simple principle operating here: When you show up for your experience, your being shows up for you. And when the larger being that you truly are reveals itself, you have an experience of coming home to yourself. Settling into yourself gives you access to native resources--strength, acceptance, peace, compassion--that help you meet and relate to whatever you're going through" (108-9).
I believe that I know several practitioners that "count" their practice in hours and volume of involvement. Showing up on the mat versus showing up at the barstool constitutes good practice for them. That person on the mat has more choices still: breathe deeply and feel the ribs and spaces inside the body or drift off, space out, and begin imaginary dialogues. Stay in the pose and investigate it, or say internally, "that's enough" and straighten legs to exit the pose. Which muscle was strengthened with those choices? Let's go a step further. In that moment, ready to exit the pose, pretend that that practitioner makes the choice, "Wait, I can exhibit more curiosity, more presence, than escapism." That practitioner has stepped into the haunted house and took one step toward reinhabiting their self.
This is a concise, prognostic list that helps point to possibility of unmet feelings:
- Ignoring your feelings
- Pretending something hasn’t happened
- Eating foods loaded with sugar and fat
- Excessive drinking of alcohol
- Excessive use of recreational drugs
- Using prescription drugs such as tranquilizers or Prozac
- Exercising compulsively
- Any type of compulsive behavior
- Excessive sex with or without a partner
- Always keeping busy so you can’t feel
- Constant intellectualizing and analyzing
- Excessive reading or TV
- Working Excessively
- Keeping conversations superficial
- Burying angry emotions under the mask of peace and love
Choosing to feel is choosing to include the emotional body in one's experiences; this is choosing a fuller [think HD] life! Less shielding, less protection = vulnerable, but High-Definition.
Blood must flow,
for the rose garden
and the heart that
is a wound
- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi
(Translated by Andrew Harvey from A Year of Rumi)