Many times in my previous posts, I’ve written about the need for us to stay with our difficult emotions, rather than to run away and hide from them. When we run away, or try to ignore our more challenging feelings, we make them even bigger than they really are. If we take respite in our usual mental processes, making ourselves right and the whole world wrong, the effort of holding on so tightly to our own beliefs can be literally exhausting. If we run away and pretend everything is fine, those same feelings will usually surface again the next time we feel pushed and squeezed by the circumstances of our lives.
Sometimes our feelings are just so huge that they cannot be ignored, and we cannot run away. At these times, we find that very shaky, insecure being we actually are behind the solid walls we like to create – the persona we like to present to the world. We become more truly ourselves. It takes real courage to face this part of ourselves head on. But if you imagine that all your dammed-up emotions are like a fortress, then a crisis can be quite liberating – although it certainly won’t feel like it at the time.
When everything feels wrong, when we cannot feel good about ourselves, it’s time to allow what seems like a disaster to open us up, to soften us and to chip away at those fortress walls. As Pema Chodron writes, in ‘When Things Fall Apart’,
“It’ s a kind of testing, the kind of testing that spiritual warriors need in order to awaken their hearts.”
We find the softness deep in our hearts. We start to dissolve the barriers we have built up over the years. We learn to truly experience our own suffering, both large and small, and so develop more empathy for the trials of others. We begin to tune in to the true quality of our heart chakra, Anahata. We find compassion for others as well as for ourselves. We develop maitri, or loving-kindness. We welcome the opportunities we encounter to grow – embracing our disappointments, our sadness, our anger. The good news is we don’t need to go out of our way to find these opportunities – we will all find that plenty come our way!