Friday, February 19, 2010

Inviting the Demons to Tea

I’ve been out of sorts all week. Emo, as my daughter would say. (Or at least I think that is what she would say. I’m still not sure exactly what that means.) Quick to be irritated, quick to get teary. Restless, not sleeping. Even when I could shift to a better mood, I quickly sank back into my funk.

This morning I realized that I have fighting my feelings instead of feeling my feelings. I relaxed my resistance and surrendered to my feelings, whispering, “This, too. This, too.” No judgment. Just a soft opening. Unacknowledged grief blossomed. My foster daughter’s beloved grandmother died Valentine’s Day morning. Valentine’s Day is also the day my dad died years ago. My cowboy cousin died yesterday. And my dog is getting old. Loss, memory of loss, anticipated loss. This, too. Grief wrapped me up like a soft down comforter. I snuggled in and rested.

Feelings are like water. We can try to dam them up, but they are purest when allowed to flow freely. Dammed up feelings continue to exert pressure, to seek release. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to maintain that dam.

The story is told of Milarepa, an 8th century Tibetan Buddhist, who came back to his cave one day to find it filled with demons. He didn’t know how to get rid of them. He tried to teach them Buddhism. They ignored him. He got angry and attacked them. They just laughed. Finally, he gave up and said, “I’m not going anywhere and it seems that you are not either. I guess we will have to live here together,” at which point the demons promptly left.

Living in your happy place doesn’t mean always feeling happy. But it does mean honoring your feelings with gentle acceptance. This, too.

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