what ever was inside roared the deepest roar ever, releasing the loneliness, the anger and fear. it was shame and it came spilling onto the page as i thrust my hand deeper down my throat.
there’s no take–backsies in life – no undoing – no binging on soft serve and purging regret.
this cycle of filling up on self-righteousness and pushing down feelings of unworthiness feels hungry and sickening, like a shadow of swelling anger and confusion that’s been hiding in our anonymity – in our sin – in our scarlet letter – in the dark web of our great, shared cultural shame … i am not enough.
shame has become our dirty little secret!
and, it’s powerful! it’s powerful when you believe that what others believe of you is more powerful than you – nullifying choice. but, this is a misunderstanding. choice is not a freedom controlled by others, rather, it’s an ability – an emotional fluency – a flexibility and trust that takes skill and practice to execute and presence to claim.
the problem is that most of us are not present – we’re already entering this experience with preconceived judgments and those judgments obscure new information.
… it’s what YOU think is true that disempowers you and how YOU choose to view experience that brings full access and sovereignty.
for example, life used to feel like it was pulling at me – heavy and thirsty. but i realized that if i stopped pushing away from it, it was actually holding me – nourishing me – carrying me. it was clear that my power lay in the totality of experience!
in this very same way, if you view life as a container – separate – life flowing around you – then everything becomes an object and life is happening to you. there’s an appearance of emptiness and a craving that can only be satisfied by objects and possessions.
however, if you have an embodied view of life – life flowing through you – there are no boundaries – you’re always full. there’s no individual space to be filled – no sense of emptiness … no hunger.
shame makes us a cracked container. and, when we’re shamed, we feel like we’re spilling out, disconnected from our bodies and our spiritual ‘self’ – separate from the ‘space’ of unlimited possibility, presence and flow.
shame isolates us from this flow.
so, how do we stop giving our power over to the social filters that keep us contained?
we need to start paying more attention to how we are living and to what we are paying attention – not to who is to blame for our situation. that means becoming aware of the binge and recognizing our responsibility for the purge.
when i’m not paying attention to the signs in my life, it shows up in all sorts of ways: it shows up in my sleep, and it shows up in my impatience, and it shows up in my need to control my environment … and it shows up on the scale.
and that’s the trigger – the rising of some painful story carried through the many memories stored in this body.
bam! i’m transported back there!
seeing those numbers on the scale makes me want to purge, just like seeing the way others believe ‘us to be’ can make us want to escape or hide or push away – to disappear!
don’t get me wrong, going back there hurts. it hurts. but not in the same way it hurt before. this is a new kind of hurt. this hurt has more compassion holding it. this hurt is not defined by anger or fear. this hurt has heart.
and, this heart has grown so big – so strong because of the hurt – that i can now hold my self and hold others at the same time!
and that’s when it rises … wisdom.
before, i would criticize and punish myself. i would whip the body for the sins of the mind. i would call myself names – worthless and weak.
but now, with this wisdom, i see how and why these methods failed. and, although individually they weren’t useful, from a distance, what they all have in common is very useful.
what these painful failures were telling me was that i could not ‘fix’ this with my head – not with measurements and fear tactics that fuel guilt, humiliation and shame. i’ve done that too many times. i’ve binged and purged, and starved and numbed and denied this body.
… this beautiful, magnificent body!
here’s what’s different: back then, i didn’t have the skill and courage to face these failures head on. but now i do.
all this meditation and learning and understanding is now demanding the practicing – beyond the preliminaries and deliberacy of sitting on a cushion watching the pain in my right hip.
this is what if life fucked you up – knocked you off the wire – how would you respond kinda’ practicing. this is spontaneous – everyday – failing and falling and then finding steady. this is integration … mindfulness.
back then i would react – i would binge and purge and push away. and, now? now i’ve learned the skill of emotional intelligence — i can access the capacity of presence. i recognize how i harmed myself – i can hold the big picture and i can bare the peripheral details that were once hidden in the shadows.
i can see clearly.
and, here’s the gig: there was a lot i had forgotten – much that was veiled by shame and pain. however, with this new theory of mind, i began to see, without judgment, how the choices i made (and the reasons and intentions that made them) were the misguided attempts of a young mind and how these choices contributed to my suffering. i began to see what that suffering was pointing to:
i had to forgive myself!
you see, you can’t be free from shame unless you learn to forgive yourself — for feeling vulnerable – for believing something that is now untrue – for the weakness of the body or mind – for having lost your way.
there’s no shame in that! there’s no sin in just missing the mark! that’s waking up!
revolution and absolution precede evolution – that’s growing up! forgetting is just part of the process. and, it’s because we become so identified with the preference of being right or having been wronged that we fall into forgetfulness in the first place.
so, forgiveness is really the release from our forgetfulness – releasing us from the prescribed sum of the parts we’re playing out by bringing space into experience.
this release is freedom.
let’s be clear: forgiveness does not excuse the individual who harmed you from accountability, however, it does release YOU from the story of ‘this is what happened to me’ as if it’s still happening! it allows you to claim your power in the NOW and, in the course of doing so, releases the perpetrator from the fixed identity that your victim needs in order to have an object to resent and avenge. everyone is free to create their own individual and shared destiny.
so, how do we begin to forgive?
we begin at the edge. when we’re putting together a puzzle, we usually don’t begin in the middle, we look for the form. mindfulness is the form – the soft edge. it’s dynamic and reliable and this is what builds confidence, trust … attention.
when my attention has a hard time – when i get stuck in the story – i ask myself, what’s really going on?
and i wait and listen:
- and, i hear: i’m saturated, i’m engorged, i have no more room for this information – no time for this chore!
- and, i see: life looks like my office – stacks and stacks of stairwells of books and words, surrounded by mantras and mandalas … coming together and pulling apart in spectacular, spontaneous and exciting ways.
- and, i understand: to the mind, this may feel overwhelming, but to the spirit, this chaos is the foreplay of manifestation – i am growing and sometimes it’s confusing and painful.
i pull my lens farther away still:
- and, i notice the emerging pattern – the choices and circumstances … the tributaries and paradigms that funneled experience into the ocean of my being – how none of it is separate – how the details fall away – how it’s all a part of the whole.
then there’s no more story – no more ‘this happened to me’ – no more me … only information and, i can keep what is useful and use it to build my future.
and, like me, all these emotions that are building up inside YOU are really important. they’re important to this person and they’re pointing to valuable information.
YOU don’t need someone’s permission to live the life you want. but, how you choose to interpret and use this information will change the way your needs are received by the world.
life doesn’t have to be so hard – so complex. both power and result lay in your intention and responsibility.
you’re accountable for your personal purge so learn how to understand your behavior, hone your skill of attention and cultivate compassion. then, you can build a system – a map – a trust worthy process that is dynamic and useful. and this map can guide you through the layers upon layers of meaning and information lost in the purge – the layers upon layers of pushing away and pushing down shame.
YOU can find your soft edge. trust me on this … there’s something else. and, it ain’t perfect – it just isn’t!
test it out for yourself: just for a moment, in the safety of the room in your mind, access the freedom and clarity of forgiveness. let go of the story that is holding you back. let go of the denial and see what rises.
stop binging and purging and roar your deepest fucking roar! declare your freedom!
release yourself from the story so you can return safely to reclaim the hidden treasures of your wisdom, dare to envision a future that YOU choose and build for the benefit of all human beings.
when you stop pushing away from experience, you may be surprised to see that what you believed was pulling at you – holding your down – was carrying you into the arms of your infinite heart all along.
Contemplation: What are you hungry for?
Hunger reveals itself in all sorts of ways and always, it’s pointing to a need. letting go of the need to ‘fill’ this hunger … to scratch the itch, is the meditation that allows us to let go of our fears. And, letting go of the idea that the itch is real, allows us to see what is really trying to get our attention.
What’s possible if this story no longer blocks what is longing to emerge?