I know she’ll be embarrassed (or pissed), but I’m going to have to disclose the following about Emily. Just to show that Emily isn’t the evil witch (though I do think she’s a bruja!) we all seem to think she is. Before she left for Africa, she set it up so that I received an email or e-card from her everyday she was gone. Each message was special and directed to me. Each message uncovered the heart of a woman who feels deeply. To me, being the fuckin’ hopeless romantic I am, this was an awesome gesture. This actually slew me and showed me a side of Emily that I can easily fall for.
I’m sorry people, but AFAIC, Emily did go to Africa. She insists she did and I believe her. Go ahead and call me fool, but I ain’t no fool. I refuse to believe that Emily would do something like that.
* * *
The Big Hurt
“… So my philosophy is that life is like photography: use the negative to develop.”
— Steve Bhaerman
To live openly and transparently is not easy. Part of living with an open heart means saying yes to everything. Everything that we have spent years pushing away, everything we have tried to keep hidden — all the shameful things — return to be embraced. This is what it means to be living honoring the Goddess — the feminine essence.
The fact is that however committed we may be to living a life of awakening, however we may have been changed by realization, to really feel without defense takes a lot of balls. To live openly and transparently is a work in progress at best. But the more I do it, the more fearless I become. The more fearless I become, the less you can hurt me, because I’m past that.
To live without the personal soap opera, without the why and because, to really live vulnerable and naked, and open to each feeling that arises is to live in an unbroken continuum of existence — like a river flowing. The practice here is returning to feeling (what is) instead of hanging with emotion (the personal soap opera). It’s living and dying each moment and it’s not always a good feeling. In fact, I will go further and say that it mostly doesn’t feel good. Most of what we have pushed away is painful, so the practice of embracing what we have repressed requires some discomfort.
But just live in this way, even if you fail again and against one of the most fulfilling practices you can undertake. It’s a helluva lot better than denying feeling. It’s, as one of my teachers liked to call it, a “glorious failure.” the reward here is not pleasure, but depth, a real connection with our world and our inner lives. Living in this way — open to all the hurt — imparts the knowledge that is the secret of life (and not the crap from that bullshit book). For example, when hurt arises in my relationships I know that not resisting that hurt will take me down into something much deeper. Since this process is really fucked up and not very pleasurable, we often abandoned it. Pain is inevitable in life. People will disappoint you and plans will go awry, for example. But suffering is optional. When I let go of the clinging to feeling good and avoiding pain, I pass through into the deeper heart and the result is that I’m thrown into a deeper love. The Big Love.
But how do you feel with courage? That’s a good one. Here’s what the authors of Undefended Love teach about learning to feel with courage:
Let it pierce you, and if it disturbs you let it disturb you. If it tortures you, let it torture you, because that’s what awakening is. There is a misconception of awakening as always bliss. Ultimately, that is where we end up, but awakening stirs up whatever is within you so that it can find its path to its ultimate unfolding. Let it disturb you, let it pierce you, and find out what within you is having difficulty with the present moment.
I would encourage anyone to read that paragraph more than once — there’s a lot there. When I felt the hurt in a relationship, I was able to delve into that hurt (instead of running away from it) and I came away from that with a guide to an appropriate response.
Living openly allows us to respond to new situations differently. When a lover doesn’t call, when I get less appreciation than I want/ need, when someone treats with less consideration than I deserve, instead of reacting emotionally (or getting stuck there) I learn to feel more deeply, how to surf that feeling home into the Big Love.
This creates a cease-fire and when news of this cease-fire reaches all the neurons in you brain, old feelings arise and return home because they are accepted as family and they are reunited. Old feelings return in order to be met, without any apparent encouragement. In other words, shit happens.
Here’s what I do whenever I feel stirred up. I try to listen to the story my thoughts are telling me about why I feel upset. An emotional hijacking is always composed of an external event and a contraction in the body. Focusing on the event will only make you more upset (“That bitch!”). Staying with the body — the feeling — helps you move deeper. I’m going to ask what might seem as an obvious question: Do you know for sure why you feel as you do? When you take the time to explore this question, what often happens is that a feeling or a sensation actually came before the emotional hijacking rather than followed it. When we abandon the need to know why, we are then free to deal with the totality of life. Be open. Without the story (emotion) the feeling (what is) may change very quickly into something else.
For me recently it changed from outrage and hurt to compassion.