A Window Into My Own Practice


For decades I’ve recognized that the wisest among us are always, in their own view, absolute beginners. Those who believe that they’re “done” with healing and self-inquiry are the least reliable teachers and companions on the path.

In keeping with this recognition, I make it a point to work regularly with a brave, skillful partner in presence. We both saw how my experience this week, in session, was important to share.

I began by noticing a jangled feeling in my chest and limbs. An uncomfortable friction. I stayed with it a little longer than usual, especially to see if an emotional aspect to the experience would show up. Sure enough, after a few moments I was overcome by a deep sadness. At first I tried to stay right with it, without any analysis or story.

Then, as so often happens, my mind interfered and began trying on subjects that I might be sad about. Nothing resonated.

I breathed into the sadness and found another blessedly free few minutes of full-on, storyless emotional connection. At that point I received an intuitive “Ohhh, I see.” I was sad because of ow often my body feels pain and inflamed.. This sadness is usually far in the background because I’m such a good “accepter.” And yet, right now, for whatever reason, it needed to take center stage.

With my presence partner’s support, I let it be. I let it take up all the space and focus in needed. I saw how this sadness is not separate from my acceptance but is an essential part of it. I saw how I need to be especially on the lookout for times when I, myself, might unwittingly relegate it to the background.

Checking in with my overall state, I realized that I had gone from tense and out of sorts to peaceful and harmonious. By connecting with this sadness I had re-tuned myself, so to speak. The resulting wholeness felt so much better. And – here’s the main point – I was still sad.

I had found a renewed state of peace and harmony through my willingness to stay sad as long as the sadness needed my embrace. Which, it turned out, was about an hour.

This is why I always tell my clients and students that I don’t want to help them feel better, but instead to feel more. Knowing how to get in tune with oneself is a far greater gift than any transient sensation, no matter how uplifting.

What about you? Are you willing to feel everything, for as long as it takes, to strike the most harmonious inner chord?