When I was much younger, just the idea of meditation seemed torturous. How boring and pointless to just sit there still and quiet for nothing.
I didn’t understand at the time that I was unable to be with myself. That my experience of my inner world was something between “uncomfortable” and “nothing.”
Loving myself, forgiving myself, spending time with myself – they all seemed like the equivalent of paying myself a salary from my own money. A purely technical move that results in nothing actually happening.
Of course I spent lots of time in my head, but that was all thoughts and stories.
The actual experience I was having was probably various combinations of things like yearning, frustration, loneliness, sorrow, and apoplexy — nothing I was eager to sit with or knew how to do anything about.
Which was unfortunate because that might have allowed me to connect with myself internally.
So how does one start to do that?
One way is to start to form a relationship with the parts of you that are in pain. We exist on multiple levels simultaneously and they don’t all feel the same way. We are conditioned to pick the loudest or most familiar feeling and go with that, but in truth we feel a multitude of ways at any given moment.
For the sake of clarity, we boil it down to one emotion like “good” or “upset” or “uncomfortable”. Then that feeling defines us. “I AM mad… I AM fine.”
However, it’s almost always more accurate to say “A part of me feels mad.”
Put another way: “A part of me requires attention.”
Sometimes when we feel this way we might seek out the trusted sympathetic ear of a friend or loved one. In this case that would be yourself.
Part of you feels mad, so the remaining part can choose to embrace the mad part with loving compassion. Instead of becoming overtaken by the feeling, you allow the damaged part to have the feeling and the rest of you to function as an accepting and understanding presence. This gives the energy someplace to go, and someone to receive and validate it.
You can also work with longstanding, habitual emotions, ones that are repeatedly expressing damage from your past.
Look for the pattern of things that bother you. The things you routinely complain about or suffer about or still avoid suffering about. What keeps bugging you or going wrong?
See if you can discern the underlying belief in the pattern. It might be something like:
- It’s dangerous to trust others.
- I feel unstable when things don’t seem under control.
- I’m not allowed to be wrong or make mistakes.
These are also really effective to practice being with. The point is not to talk yourself out of these feelings and perceptions – it’s to allow a wounded part of you to feel seen and heard.
And in the process, it opens up that interior space and creates a relationship between the part of you that you identify with and the part of you that’s trying desperately to get your attention. It moves you toward wholeness and integration, and activates a vast inner world that exists beyond the mind.
If your spirit is prompting you to have a conversation about the practice of being with yourself, I encourage you to consider working with me.