A few posts down I quoted some from Tara Brach, she illustrated the use of a question that I then used. Using that question became the pivoting point out of a dark place I was in at the time. The question was:
“Ok, what is actually happening right now?”
The ice bucket challenge is en vogue at the moment. Asking myself that question was like throwing a bucket of ice water on myself – it woke me up! I could see immediately how all my suffering was from past and future thinking.
And with that question, I followed the breath into the body and I let myself feel the breath move, feel where it got stuck, be with that, and continue breathing some more. A softening then begins to happen, because I’m inhabiting this moment fully present in the body, my home here on earth.
I don’t recall Tara’s exact words but it was something about those of us who have experienced a lot of wounding in our lives, benefit by a regular spiritual practice of some sort. Now that I’ve emerged from that dark place, I’ve taken her advice to heart. I’ve continued to practice this question many times a day, any time I recognize I am in a story. It’s a new muscle I am learning to develop and flex.
What I have found is, the question can so effortlessly turn my attention to right now. Yet, I noticed something else was temporarily at bay in the background. It, of course, was the story that jibed with wherever the breath got stuck.
I listened to another talk by Tara Brach “The Freedom of Yes”, and I heard her respond to the story with this statement:
“I give myself permission for this. Permission for this. Permission for this.”
The next time I had an opportunity to use that original question – “Ok, what is actually happening right now?”, I followed the breath into the body and I felt the familiar tightening right in the solar plexus. Being with it and breathing, I gave the tightness a name and gave it permission to be there:
“I give this struggle permission to be here.”
I did not go into the attendant thoughts that match struggle, I’m still staying present in the body, and breathing slowly and consciously, repeating – permission to be here, permission to be here.
If you try this, observe how it softens, how you start to relax, a truce has come, the inner struggle is dissipating because it’s being met with at last, acceptance. Struggle is defined by our unwillingness to be with whatever arises. When the unwillingness is dropped, that’s the sweet spot.
My dear friend has always said: “whatever you can let yourself have, you can let yourself release.” I’ve heard these principles said dozens of times in different ways, but until someone could mentor the way in for me (Tara Brach), it looked good on paper, but was a nebulous concept just the same.
I hope this was as useful for you, as it was for me, and a deep bow to Tara Brach for the wisdom, support, and inspiration!
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