Open heart, open mind. Open the doors and throw open the windows. Those are the two intentions I set for myself every day when I meditate. And ooh, sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to come face-to-face with your walls, your soft spots, your shortcomings and your bad habits. But I have, and the more aware I get, the more painful it can be sometimes. My instinct in the past has been to run from it, but now that I’ve been practicing mindfulness for several years, I’ve been learning to stop and face it. And guess what? It passes. I recognize pain for what it is, and I let it pass right on through instead of holding on to it.
It’s funny how your soft spots or inner disturbances can be so easily hit. Life provides many opportunities for this! A few weeks ago, I cheerfully joined my husband to take on the uncheerful task of cleaning the garage. He made a joke about how nicely I was dressed and didn’t I realize this would be a dirty job? My mother-in-law had been outside too, and they both laughed. It was an innocuous joke and maybe even a compliment but all of a sudden I was transported to childhood when a family member made fun of me in front of the entire family, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, for something nice I was wearing. Other family members piled on. At the time, I was embarrassed, humiliated and I wanted to evaporate out of the room.
Remembering this, I excused myself from the garage and went to the bathroom. Tearfully, I sat and breathed, resisting the urge to shame myself for getting upset over something so silly. I did gently remind myself that I was 42 and not 12, though, and that that was then and this was now. And now, I was fine, no matter how I was dressed or what someone else said whether well-intentioned or not. I did not need confirmation that I was OK. As I breathed and calmed myself, I acknowledged that old painful moment and I invited it to pass on through. I relaxed and let it go.
After a few minutes, I went back outside and we got to work.
You must look inside yourself and determine that from now on pain is not a problem. It is just a thing in the universe. Somebody can say something to you that can cause your heart to react and catch fire, but then it passes. It’s a temporary experience…When you are comfortable with the pain passing through you, you will be free. This world will never be able to bother you again because the worst the world can do is hit the pain stored within you. If you do not care, if you are no longer afraid of yourself, you are free. – Michael Singer