“Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests, and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes parts of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive, and expansive. It’s different from unwilling suffering the way the sting of disinfectant is different from the sting of decay; the pain leaves you healthier than it found you.” -Martha Beck
I am working to stay with the lessons from last week when life stood still thanks to my head that would not turn. Dealing with pain is an honorable way to spend time. It does indeed work on us like the waves of the ocean on a shore line- washing away the unnecessary and surprising us with unexpected wonders from its depths. The freedom I have in my neck this week is matched by a lightening of the weight in my relationship with my father. Letting go is as easy as opening up to it, but it also requires that we are willing to pay attention to and feel what we are releasing.
In an ironic way, the feelings we won’t attend to directly, stick to us and dig into our anatomy. Our bodies record the emotional injuries and hold them for us to release when we are willing and ready. The fear of experiencing the discomfort we hold is what becomes our suffering. Pain, physical and emotional sometimes seems so huge that the idea of going near it seems like it will obliterate us. It doesn’t hurt to get tossed around in the waves for a little bit nearly as much as it does to carry the burden of the unresolved in our neck, in our backs, in our heart.
There is truly good pain and bad pain- the good pain is what we consent to. It works in us in a predictable cycle, and leaves us clean and clearer. This is how we get the heart lessons that we yearn for. Bad pain is what we refuse. It is the foundation of most of our unskilled thinking and unfortunate choices. Slowly it wraps itself around you, strangling your connections to your own heart. Over decades it becomes a cage that narrows your view and limits your relationships.
Throw yourself into the ocean of your own experience. Lean towards letting go, even if you don’t know how. Your body does and your heart needs it the way plants need water. It will show you the way. And in the moments where the pain seems unbearable, stay and see how much stronger you are than you thought you were. Feel and watch how feeling moves through you and then out and away.