3.2
April 21, 2016

I Stopped Running Away from my Heart & Stepped Closer Instead.

Deviant Art/N0tisme (has creative commons license)

Running—I’m running again.

My feet slap against the wet, muddy earth with lightning bolts of electrical intensity. I run faster and faster and faster—maybe if I run fast enough and far enough, I’ll finally escape myself.

I run until my lungs burn with fire so fierce that I almost can’t breathe.

I run down the rocky forest trail, deeper into the land of majestic evergreens—I run until all the maddening thoughts and prickly feelings I don’t want to face dissolve into thin air. I run until the lights and buzz and noise of the city are just a distant remnant of a memory.

Running. I was always so good at running. Running away. Turning away. Walking away. Freaking the hell out and making a mad dash for it. Running to be wild. Running to break free. Running away from others—but almost always running away from myself. Always getting on an invisible airplane to avoid the crushing, earthquake truth of the ever-uncomfortable present moment. Always shutting down, looking away and averting my gaze.

Sometimes I thought running away was the only way to keep my heart safe from all the toxic madness and not-so-nice messes I’d get myself into—and sometimes that was true. But sometimes, when I’d bolt without so much as a single thought, I destroyed other people’s hearts in ways it hurts like hell for me to think about.

As I run madly through the wilderness of the mountainside, my exhausted legs force me to stop for a second, and I feel something I’ve never felt before—-I’m tired of running. I’m tired of turning away from myself. I’m tired of this bullsh*t dance of avoidance.

So I stop.

I sit down, at long last. I had no idea how tired I was.

We all run away. We all turn away.

Why is it so seductive to run from love, from beauty, from discomfort, from pain, from life, from ourselves—rather than stay for an achingly tender moment and embrace exactly what we’re feeling, exactly where we are now?

Maybe it’s the fear that if we stopped running—if we slowed down, if we sat still—we would actually have to look at ourselves. We would have to face ourselves.

And that can seem a feat we feel far too vulnerable to face.

It’s so much easier to be busy. It’s effortless to be distracted by pretty, shiny things and have our hands glued to our smartphones as we fill our schedules with a million empty events so that we don’t have a single free moment of our day.

That’s no accident. We’re scared sh*tless to face ourselves.

Because when we look inside our skin, when we look into our own eyes—-there is nowhere to hide. There is only nakedness and truth. We see behind the sparkly lies we tell ourselves. We see right through the pretty little delusions we base our lives around. We see fear. We see emptiness. We see beauty and power and pain. We see love lost. We see all the ways we cower from life. We see all the dark places inside that we’re too scared to show to anyone, ever—especially ourselves.

But in seeing—in the gentle sunlight of seeing, in the beautiful truth of witnessing ourselves without judgement—there is immense power. Profoundly gentle power.

Just by seeing our not-so-pretty parts, just by acknowledging them—they heal.

We heal.

And we realize that even the darkest and most shameful places inside us aren’t so terrible or grotesque after all. Maybe those parts just needed to be honored for a moment—looked at without disgust, touched gently and stroked sweetly—for they are like orphaned parts of our being. But they all belong.

We’re often afraid to be vulnerable with another person. But what about being vulnerable with ourselves?

We never think about that.

To be truly naked with our own hearts is the most powerful practice in the world. It’s simple. It’s freeing. It doesn’t cost anything, it’s always available—and yet, it can feel utterly impossible and beyond terrifying to face.

To sit in silence, unfold our layers like flower petals and actually look at ourselves? Sh*t, it seems much more tempting to zone out to Netflix for hours on end, like a zombie than be present enough and honest enough to hold space for ourselves in this blisteringly tender, madly beautiful way.

But how could we summon the strength to stop running and sit down with our hearts and look deeply into our own eyes?

And how could we do this every damn day?

Because true empowerment comes straight from the heart—it comes from having the courage to reach inward, to reach out, to be achingly, deliciously vulnerable. It comes from the subtle bravery of stepping forward to face life, to face ourselves, to face others, to face what scares us the most—instead of running away like we’re being chased by a crazy cheetah through the jungle.

There is no way around the crushing vulnerability of it all.

And on top of that majestic mountain, my legs wanted me to run. They pulsed with electricity to run.

So I did.

I ran towards myself. I stepped into the cracks and fractured, hopeful crevices of my heart. I slipped inside my shaky broken bits and sharp, angry edges, climbing along the rocky trail of my epic darkness, tears, failure and canyons of fear. I stepped into the raw, blistering flames of the present moment—with myself.

Just me, my breath and the crashing waves of the present moment.

And I saw myself. I looked into my eyes. I cried. I saw beauty. I saw love. I saw fear—so much fear. I saw guilt and boatloads of resentment. I saw all the places inside I thought were open, but are still tight and sad, like shy buds.

And I stayed for a moment, unfurling, inch by inch, bit by bit. It hurt. I stayed anyway. The afternoon sunshine poured into me, like liquid gold, as I shakily embraced my entire being—even the yucky, dark, terrifying parts I usually hide.

I smiled.

And then I slowly closed up again.

It was simple. It was sublime. A tiny, breathtaking moment of being truly present with myself. A tiny moment of opening to my own heart.

It felt like coming home.

Maybe nothing is complicated. Maybe all we ever needed to do was to stop running for one second, take a slow, deep breath and sit still in the soft lap of the present moment.

And the best part? It’s not as scary as it seems.

It’s gentle beyond belief.

.

Author: Sarah Harvey

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Deviantart/N0tisme

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