Mindfulness Hack #16: Face It

January 24, 2019

It used to be that anytime someone asked me what my biggest fear was,

I was stumped and could not, for the life of me, think of a legitimate fear. Sure, I was scared of getting my eyes poked out by an umbrella when walking down the street,  or falling down stairs and breaking all the teeth out of my head (totally weird and random, I know), but that was the best I could come up with. Now I realize that my fear has been SO great that I was not even able to recognize it as fear.

All the spiritual learning, introspection, meditation, and the peeling away of the layers (or “self-helpery” as Jen Sincero calls it) has shown me that I’m actually scared shitless. All the time apparently. I’ve hardened some serious limiting beliefs, engrained them into habits so as to block any chance of true success and ability to live to my potential. At the root, my limitation is fear. And it can be debilitating. It can stop me dead in my tracks.

But now I can see it for what it is.

I can name it. I can even invite it in and let it sit with me while I ponder its presence, question it and see how it responds. When I invite it to sit with me and hold space for it with compassion and love, I can transform it.

I think we have gotten a little crazy with the “let it go” trend. We feel tense and we try to force it out so we can just let it go. We feel super angry and we want to punch something but we know that ain’t right so then we focus on just letting it go. But it never really leaves does it? Next day, different scenario, same emotion, same process. On repeat. Why? Because we don’t take the time to figure out why the f*ck it’s there in the first place. We’re in such a hurry to let it go so we can move on. And in our haste, we ultimately hold a standing date with it because it’s screaming for our attention and we ain’t budging. So, you ready to really let go?

Try This…

Remember first, that transformation begins with awareness. Follow these steps (adapted from Thich Nhat Hahn) when dealing with feelings of anger, resentment, frustration, disgust, hate, etc:

  • Face it; see it for what it is; name it.
  • Invite it to sit with you. Calm the feeling just by being with it.
  • Observe the feeling with love and attention and non-judgment.
  • Conjure a calming image. Use it as a tool.
  • Breathe In. Breathe Out. Repeat. Over and over.
  • Look deeply at the source of the negative emotion.
  • Ponder the source. Ask it questions. Feel into it.
  • Smile at it; let it go.

For My Educators:

If WE are in a rush to “let it go” so we can move on, then we are in a double-time rush to make our students hurry up, say I’m sorry, and then move on. Sometimes, yeah, kids dwell on stupid shit. We all do actually. But when feelings are hurt and they aren’t given a proper space to safely vent, they can turn explosive. I highly recommend digging in to restorative practices if you haven’t already. RP is all about separating the doer from the deed, building strong relationships based on empathy and trust, and repairing and healing from harms that have been done. I consider myself a restorative practitioner and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. You could also read through other sections of the VIBE website for a better understanding or visit the International Institute for Restorative Practices website - they’re my go-to resource for all things restorative.

Game changer:

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hahn is an essential mindfulness mentor text. You could probably make a connection to every one of these hacks if you tried. Honestly, he’s an incredible human being. An activist, spiritual leader, calligrapher, poet, writer, speaker...and he lives in Plum Village! For real, you gotta check him out if you haven’t already.

You could also check this video of Thich Nhat Hahn talking to a little girl about how to deal with anger. Its precious!

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