Stillness is where it’s at, at least in terms of using mindfulness to learn about ourselves and increase self-regulation and compassion. This cultivation of being able to witness without judgment or reaction, and approach with compassion, goes a long way when our practice inevitably takes us to a place that isn’t necessarily full of warm fuzziness. Radical Acceptance, as discussed below, is an essential piece of our self-discovery journey.
At some point in our practice we may notice that we actually have a fortress of fear built around us. This fortress may seem weak of strong, but there nonetheless. Often, it’s trials and tribulations in our life that bring us to confronting these fears. We might initially seek mindfulness, mediation, and stillness to find comfort, or to even escape, the pain and suffering of this fear. However, we tend to find that the fear is inescapable.
When I speak of “fear,” this could relate to the sense we are not good enough, guilt when acknowledging we have hurt others or caused irreparable damage, a sense that we are not loving enough or lovable, or even an increased awareness of just how powerful we really are. Our fear often shows up in judgmental thoughts towards ourselves and others. Perhaps you notice self-critical thoughts, nit picking thoughts about others, perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking, blame and anger, or a nagging dialogue that you will never be enough or that there isn’t enough out there for you.
When we find this in our self-discover journey, it’s important to find ways to invite these fears into our awareness. We are tempted to push them down, turn the other way, or deny that they are there. However, it’s in inviting them in with a loving heart, like we would invite our best friend into our home, that we find understanding and can reduce the sensations of fear. We can then soothe our fear and find Radical Acceptance. Compassion can fill our heart and heal our wounds.
Fear is no longer needed when we notice there is nothing to protect ourselves from. Fear is made up of thoughts that we have agreed with, bought into and our bodily sensations match that of crisis response mode that our brain recognizes as survival mode. Feeling afraid can be something we learn to accept and welcome as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and deepen our practice of self-love and compassion.
Difficult conversations are one of my downfalls, especially those that I think might be critical of me or paint me in a negative light. I’ve come to accept that I will just feel uncomfortable, and that these sensations will not make me spontaneously combust. I can recognize it’s there, open my heart to the suffering, understand I am trying to protect myself (which is actually quite the loving gesture), and choose to instead take a deep breath and approach myself and the other person with compassion. The discomfort, the feeling of afraid, doesn’t control me.
“To stay with the shakiness–to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge–that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic–this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior.”~Pema Chödrön
There is so much more that could be said on this topic of Accepting Afraid, confronting our fears with compassion, and Radical Acceptance. There are many others who speak on this topic and various books and articles. If this is a topic that interests you, I encourage you to look into these resources. It is one of the most valuable avenues towards our most enlightened, evolved selves.
I wish you all love, compassion, and resilience on your journeys to your happiest selves!
Peaceful travels on your journey to your happiest self!