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"I feel fear and pain along with the joy of my progress"

Dear Ayal, One last question {I love your work}

Question: Am I retreating or progressing?? Just when I seemed to be recovering a lot of pain "hit me again". After going to a lot of retreats, thinking "hey I'm OK". I hit a huge wall of grief/pain and ran from it. The comfort zone shrunk again, stopped going on retreats. It's like 2 steps forward, 1 step back. I am judging myself harshly about this [of course]. And kicking myself -- but perhaps I should see the healing "on a spiral". Although I am somewhat isolated now which I don't like - but ... I don't know. Any thoughts? {weird, as I am writing this I am seeing how my mind works... so black and white} I was able to go on an intense 4-day retreat last summer. That was major progress - being deep in the woods; no electricity or running water. Took a lot of courage. But I always feel so much fear and pain with the joy. Sick of it. Want to be free, connected and loving. HELP! A few words would help.


Hi - I'd like for you to get hold of an audio series called the 'The Inner Art of Meditation' by Jack Kornfield. In it, he teaches about how to cope with the ups and downs of life, and he does so in a very compassionate, humorous way. He's wonderful, and I think it will take you through this process.

Life is not ever going to be all up or all down. It's a wave with constant motion - it doesn't get to "a good place" and then freeze there. I used to think it ought to do this too, and if it didn't, I was devastated. Living like that doesn't allow much room for movement and compassion, and other things. I only allowed a tiny area for what I considered acceptable behavior from people, acceptable responses, tones of voice, and life experiences. That causes isolation.

It's like being a brick wall that life crashes against. If we only allow life to be a certain way and want it to stay that way forever, then we are in deep control mode, due to being in deep fear. Life is constant change - no one moment will ever stay with us. It will always move on. We can't hold onto it, thinking we're safe if it finally seems to arrive, for an instant, at that "perfect" place. We think, as you said: "OH, now it's finally all right. I'm safe forever more." But then that moment passes, as all moments do. We can't, in fact, hold onto anything! Ever try to hold onto water in your hands? It isn't made to be held onto. But then if you think of it, why would we want to? Life would get pretty boring - like watching the same TV show over and over again your whole life.

We were raised on fairy tales - "and they lived happily ever after." Well, that's a bunch of simplistic BS, and it's really an unfortunate thing to tell little children. No one lives happily ever after. People fart, and belch, and put dirty socks on the bed, and get ill at times, and get pissed off, and scared, and at times lose their patience, and they have lots to learn about how to communicate, to be kind, to work through things with one another - and that is what makes it a wonderful, real, in depth story. You had a large dose of the unclear, dysfunctional end of things in the extreme as a child, but I also have a sense that it seemed so awful to you because you ARE a lover of beauty and clarity, and you ARE extremely sensitive.

It's like someone who has extra sensitive hearing being put in an echoing, reverberating sound chamber while someone is yelling in there. After that, you'd be shell shocked at the slightest of noises and be nervous and jumpy, wanting more than anything to never have to hear a loud sound again, right? No one was there to teach you how to shield yourself, how to look upon your parents with compassion, to not take on the energy or anger of others - and so you wanted, finally, to have the peace and quiet of an idealized world. You'd become extreme yourself then, right? Polarized into only accepting the quietest of sounds. But, life isn't like that. That's an idealized, limited version you've thought life ought to be, because you got shell shocked early on.

Maybe you came into an extreme situation as a child because you yourself lived life in the extreme. How surprised would you be that you created extremes because you believed in extremes - that you came in to learn about balance? So, what was the brilliance and purpose of coming into this life, to that unclear a family, being as sensitive as you are? What were you learning from creating that situation? Haven't you had to search out and discover how to be a balanced person? Isn't that part of what you came in to get this time around?

We have to be like a dancer, dancing with all the ebbs and flows, twirls and turns of life. If we're standing there rigid, just trying to hold onto one moment that finally seemed to be the "perfect" one, we will lose our balance and fall flat on our faces. Why do you think trees are made to bend with the wind? Would a perfect life for a tree mean no wind, ever? Or has it grown in such a way, with deep roots, a strong core and foundation, that allows it to bend and sway with what comes? We experience the trough of the wave as well as the high crests of it. Both are needed for growth. If it were always wonderful all the time, we'd probably all be fat and lazy, like the lotus eaters in Greek mythology. We need the challenges - it hones and sharpens our senses, and initiates great growth. That's why they call challenges the "cutting edge." It isn't called the "velveteen soft comfy edge." It's a challenging, sharp edge, and we learn to dance gracefully with it and to keep our balance.

I think that you ARE thinking in black and white - no one told us it would only be a rose garden down here where all we did was smell the roses and drink 4:00 p.m. tea... somehow, we have gotten the idea that something is wrong when we experience pain.... Now, there is a time when, after we have created experiencing a lot of shock and trauma, (due to our own misconceptions), when we do need to heal and be as stress free as possible... but the way to create not being stressed out is to be able to accept life as it is, with all of it's up and downs and changes and seeming imperfections. To do this we need strong roots, a strong center, and a deep and compassionate heart.

Let me tell you a great story: There was a wonderful and skilled midwife named Penny who lived in the mountains of California. One day (true story) people asked her to come look at their horse who had a bad infection from a cut or wound on it's knee. She tried everything - medicines, etc. It wouldn't heal. Finally, she took a match and burned a circle of small holes around the wound. This pain caused the horse to focus its attention there, and it soon healed. It had not been dealing with it before.

Only if you put a JUDGMENT on pain and call it bad is it bad. It isn't bad. It's there, as for the horse, for a good reason. People who have that condition where they don't feel pain are at great risk. It's a teacher, and it focuses our attention where it needs to be, as much as joy and pleasure is a teacher. It calls our attention to something so we can heal or change it or create something new and different if we choose to. There is no good or bad. There is simply the experience and what we learn from it. Now, that doesn't mean we go out and cause pain or harm to self or others because Ayal says there's no good or bad. What it means is that we value life - we honor life - all life, and we choose to live in such a way that causes no harm. However, that does not mean that when we experience pain, that's necessarily a "bad' thing. We take it as our teacher, and you greet it with awareness and a loving, compassionate heart .

You've gotten stuck in making judgments about the polarity that exists down here. That's like saying day is good, but night sucks. Or, hot is good, but cold sucks; tall is good, but short sucks, etc. They are just poles of the spectrum. In the light spectrum, the colors range from intensity of vibration and length of vibration - does that make violet better than red? If you resist one pole of life, you will experience pain. Pain means that you are in resistance, and fear. So, you tighten up and are fighting off what you've made the boogie monsters, like a little girl who is hiding from the dark because she thinks monsters are hiding in the closet, clenching your eyes shut. Isn't the dark needed and wonderful too? It gives us rest.

As soon as an experience comes that isn't in the small comfort range range you've allowed life to be, that you think it "ought" to be - like being only one color of the rainbow, you get scared and make it wrong. Then you get anxious, and you think you're doing it wrong, that it's not ok, and you feel fear, and you think you need to fix it, so you go into control. You judge yourself, and the experience, and the loop goes on and on. What would happen if you saw all of it as beautiful and meaningful and occupying a necessary place in the scheme of things? What if you stopped judging? Yourself, or anything else? Is a story interesting if it's only music and flowers and cooing noises? Nope. It's got to have some contrast to make it interesting, right? What if you loved and embraced the contrasts of life?

Also, read Thomas Moore's book Care of the Soul. Great stuff in there for you.

Blessings, Ayal

next 205. "I really wish I had fuller breasts and don't know what to do about it"

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