This is my story and shield. It is a pattern I’ve witnessed in myself countless times.
Suppose someone says something that angers you. Your old pathway wants to say something to punish him. But that makes us victims of our habit energy.
What if I tried something new?
Instead, you can breathe in and say, “Unhappiness is in me, suffering is in me, anger is in me, irritation is in me [and fear is in me].”
That is already helpful, recognizing your feelings and helping you not to respond right away. So you accept that anger and irritation in you, and smile to it.
With mindfulness, you look at the other person and become aware of the suffering in him or in her. He may have spoken like that to try to get relief from his suffering. He may think that speaking out like that will help him suffer less, but in fact he will suffer more.
Compassion and happiness.
With just one or two seconds [for me much longer] of looking and seeing the suffering in him, compassion is born. When compassion is born, you don’t suffer any more, and you may find something to say that will help him. With the practice, we can always open new neural pathways like that. When they become a habit, we call it the habit of happiness. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh.
This quote is analogous to my life and another example of synchronicity because I was ready to hear it. As always, I relate to a message on more simplistic terms. I had just unclogged another household drain. I wiggled a ‘snake’ to scrape the black, dark, mucky crap that was stuck in the crevices and underbelly. I broke a sweat and continued to plunge the sludge to release the clog.
The metaphor is not lost. It parallels a deeper message as I learn to scrape the funky-gunk stuck in my heart. I am tapping into my heart to release the clogs of hurt that trigger anger and fear and prevent compassion.
The bathtub drain is temporally unclogged and in my heart there is also a wider opening of awareness to avoid turning me into a victim of my habits.
Old patterns are hard to diffuse until they are seen.
As we lend our self into a metamorphosis, we quiet our dyslexic-mind into mindfulness. The truth comes in and it spears a new opening; a surgical procedure of the heart.
This current writing will not instantly cure my inclinations or familiar patterns because I will still need to navigate the slippery rocks covered with years of stories. In my humanness, I will still cling to the old stories at times, because writing and living a new one is scary.
What is different is seeing that staying stuck suspends me from seeking my potential happiness and finding compassion for the generous as well as the transgressors; all have led to my continual growth. As I surrender to living up to my potential it takes on new meaning for me and it becomes more liberating.
I have the ability to do more when I let go, then when I cling to fear and anger. My fright-flight instinct is to crumple; or if pushed into a corner, I disassociate and lash out and then run. The projections are a film spinning wildly on a vintage reel. Your old reaction is not needed…do something new, is a strong and courageous whisper from my heart.
With continuous practice, I am gaining recognition to my familiar reactions. I am gradually learning to pause and step back to see the full spectrum of colors. I am acknowledging my anger as well as my reaction to anger because it also triggers a voice of internalized fear. This fear is embedded in my cells.
Fear is a cauldron of immobilizing hurt, betrayal and sadness. Fear and anger are defense mechanisms to protect from further abuse. Words hurt like physical abuse. Combine the two and it is lethal. The heart can only take so much and walls are created to defend the soft fortress within.
This is the old story.
When the walls come down there is vulnerability, compassion, love and happiness.
This is the new story.
I seek solitude as much as I seek a supportive and loving community to feed my awakened heart. In all of this I am integrating a new stronger softness but not weakness and shaking free of old patterns. I am letting my inner vibrational frequency recalibrate through massage, Reiki, yoga, astrology and meditation.
In my expressive and passionate way of putting my foot in my mouth, without thinking, I will practice awareness; to open myself and embrace more readily into living a habit of happiness and lending myself to compassion. The healing benefits of mindfulness mitigates the panic and unclogs more of the residual layers. The old way no longer serves the new and I’m led to more lessons:
Whenever someone does something which is so upsetting we think we will never be able to forgive them, we must look deeper in our hearts to find love. ~ Gananathamritananda Swami.
It’s infinite this expansion of understanding. I’m glad to have lifetimes to pursue it all.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta