A great deal of pain is caused, or at least made worse, by my determination to avoid pain. The intensity and power of anything I resist always increases.

When I feel hungry, I eat. So I often eat when I do not need to eat. The solution to the physical experience of an empty stomach is so simple. Eating brings an end to the undesirable feeling of hunger pangs.

Hunger performs a natural and important function in my life. My body needs physical nourishment to survive. But, hunger pangs are triggered more often than is necessary to support my body. When I gratify my hunger as soon as it arises, I am no longer eating for sustenance or even healthy enjoyment. Food has become an instrument to avoid pain. When I eat to avoid pain, I create more pain as my body becomes heavy and listless.

If, rather than automatically gratifying every desire as it emerges in my body, I acknowledge the discomfort and hold the craving, the demand for satisfaction gradually passes. Not every yearning needs to be immediately satisfied. The yearning itself can be an instrument that opens me to a deeper reality. The ache of longing is not in itself a bad thing.

The feeling I have labelled as undesirable or bad is not something to be avoided. It is just another feeling.

Why do I call certain feelings “good” and others “bad”? What makes hunger, loneliness, sadness, confusion, uncertainty, and doubt all fall into the category I label “bad”?

What happens if, instead of resisting or fleeing uncomfortable realities, I recognize that they are all part of the human condition and just allow them to be? What might open in me if I refuse to run from those feelings I deem undesirable?

I run from certain feelings because I fear they will overwhelm me. They seem too big. They remind me that I am not in control of my life.

But the more I resist a feeling the more I empower that feeling in my life. If I can allow the feeling simply to be, I begin to discover that the feeling is not in fact as overwhelming as it may have appeared. Feelings only become concretized by resistance. When they are allowed to be, their transitory fluctuating nature becomes evident.

Feelings that are given space, do not need to fight so hard to maintain their stranglehold on my life. When they are no longer repressed, they begin to take on manageable proportions.

Everything in me wants to run from the darkness. I long to be distracted from the agony of conflict, confusion and doubt. The prophet Isaiah, recommends another path. He suggests that I should

Sit in silence, and go into darkness. (Isaiah 47:5)

I can go towards the darkness I fear. I do not need to chase away this troubling feeling. I do not need to defeat it, fix it, or reject it. It is just a feeling. If I stop and see the feeling for what it truly is, it begins to lose some of its power over my state of being. I see that I do not need to be controlled by any feeling. A tiny space of freedom begins to open inside me. Here there is true light and real hope.

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