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When I don't run away...

Expansion Photo by Lyn of Death Valley

When I don't run away from those moments when every part of me is reaching for something to ease the pain, when I can just be with the pain of the moment without needing something in my environment, my relationships, or inside myself to be different, something funny happens. When I stay with the rawness of the moment, eventually I am spit out the other side.

This is where the peace comes in, the breaking of an 'ancient neurotic pattern'--the need to find comfort outside of self.

Staying with the pain without reaching for solace has the impossible feeling like I have been given the task to single-handedly reverse the direction of a river thundering down a mountain canyon. It feels messy, unpredictable and scary. I find myself gasping for breath as the pain drags me with it, scraping me across jagged rocks, kicking and screaming all the way.

It is like I am frying all of my circuits, my insides are on fire, but I don't stop to put the fire out.

When I don't run away, and the pain finally eases, I find that glimpses of peace and joy arise from having been able to move through it without going down the same tired roads. Pain can't last forever, and after a moment, it begins to dissipate. There is just enough space to recognize that it has passed, and that a peace has begun to settle in, a clarity that this is the path of a warrior. This is the training.

I had a dream once where the entire human race was stuck in a black lake of tar. I watched all of these bodies writhing in this black, sticky sea, struggling to break free, to get a breath here and there, but they could never escape. It was just an inch or so above that the writhing bodies would find fresh clean air and sunshine, but nobody was ever able realize this, or to feel it for more than a few seconds-- certainly not for long enough to bring about an awareness that all they needed to do was simply stick their heads out and climb ashore.

When I don't run away, when I sit with my pain without the same reactivity, the same reaching for relief, the same reactions of anger and blame, the same anxious fears enveloping me, I begin to experience a freedom I've never known before.

Sometimes doing it differently might be to tell the truth to myself or to someone around me. This is a huge difference for me, as I've never told the truth, wanting to save face or protect people from pain inflicted by me. Now I see that not telling the truth and suppressing it was never protection for me or for them. It only allowed our air-tight stories to flourish, like mold, compromising all the heartscapes.

Not reacting in the same ways, staying with the pain without tossing it like a hot potato, but holding it and letting it burn my hands, has opened my eyes and shown me that I can't really be burnt, that it is an illusion. The real casualties come from perpetuating the same old wars with others and myself.

Yet, it is a continual process and practice, as it is going against the grain in such a way as to become illogical. After all, why would you hold something in your hands that is burning through the layers of your skin? Most of the time I get caught in this reasoning and find myself pulled back under.

Increasingly I've noticed how every part of our physical existence is lived around the experiencing of pain and the relieving of it. Most creations in our world seem to have been devised to give ease, or escape; to bandage.

The pattern in us seems to be to give us solace from our own very need to invent and create gloriously, to raise our banners high in the name of progress and innovation, and to save us from the pain of watching what we've created fall, and crumble into decay, irrelevance, and ruin.

All of matter seems to be prey to this cycle, especially our bodies.

In other words, the default of our existence is to be swimming in this tar. We really do only have slight moments of fresh air and sunshine. It is no wonder we don't feel free, despite our proclamations offered to convince otherwise.

Yes, even the best of these proclamations, the best of our own intentions, so beautiful and pure in scope, so innocent and benevolent of tools to set us free, turn against us most of the time, squeezing us in a vice-grip of shame, that even with these hallowed tools and all our fresh awareness, we are still stuck in our neurotic patterns. We still have yet to receive a steady stream of fresh air to breathe. Another structure built in glory and crumbled in shame.

So, it makes sense that the way to counter this process would be to stay steady with the pain, to let it move through you, to let it run its course, and then to find yourself freer and freer from reacting in the same old ways, finding some comfort or satisfaction, only to find every time that it isn't enough.

When I run away, I am stuck in the same cycles that replay themselves over and over.

When I don't run away, I get out of the way for some higher wisdom to come through.

When I don't run away, there is permanent change, there is release from attachments, and a splendid joy in my being that is unobscured, a stability of awareness, a soft love, a trust, and a steady peace that seems to be conversely related to the fleeting satisfaction of reacting from my pain.

When I don't run away, and the peace settles in, I enjoy all the comforts more, because I reach for them in clear space, already feeling whole. Milk Duds and a movie takes on a whole new feel:)


  1. You say it so well.

    It takes courage to stay with it, to "reverse the direction of the river." And you, my friend, are one brave soul.

    I am so honored to be your friend.

  2. Beautiful blog Brooke. Love the image of the Tar Lake. Carl Jung said 'God speaks to us through our wounds.'Just letting the wound breathe freely without feeling the urge to dress it takes courage. In my experience; Acceptance = Love = inner peace.Keep shining your light.

    Love Nige

  3. Oh, Brooke, I so needed to hear this words, this wisdom today. You've said all that needs saying. I have nothing to add, except to say Thank you!

  4. DITTO...DITTO...DITTO! Thanks for braving the deep pool of life and sharing your insights.

  5. Thank you all again for reading and taking the time to connect. Your responses make it so worth sharing. I'm so glad you resonated with this one. There was something freeing about describing this process for myself.

    Sending love!


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