The two themes or patterns that have haunted my life are anxiety and fear. Both feelings are so uncomfortable that I always moved away from them. I actually avoided difficult conversations, places, or events that would trigger either of those miserable sensations in my solar-plexus. Sometimes I couldn’t eat much for weeks.
When these feelings took up residence twenty-four hours a day and for weeks at a time, desperation took over. As terrifying as it was, I knew I had to try something different, so with the help of a therapist who understands the non-dual view, I began to explore in a different direction–I turned inward to sit with them as best I could. I didn’t try to understand the psychological root, but rather felt the sensations in my body that I labelled “awful.” Francis Lucille calls this “sitting on the hot seat.”
In the beginning, I could only tolerate the feelings for minutes at a time. Then I would, metaphorically speaking, fall off the hot seat and begin looking outward for causes and conditions to blame. I could always find them! Story is easy to come by. But I discovered running from them and toward story only increased my suffering, so more and more often, I returned to face those sensations. The time between these returns shortened, and gradually, I was able to tolerate the discomfort of the anxiety and fear longer. I discovered that as frightening as the feelings are, they aren’t going to kill me.
I finally noticed that I had become more interested in the truth of my direct experience than in running from it, and became even more deeply curious. At that point, I knew I was finished with therapy. When I turn to face the sensations directly, they dissolve more quickly. More often now, I greet these sensations as old friends, and don’t move away at all.
© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: Le Masque arrache