Each day feels different, carries different thoughts, bears witness to unique events. Whatever your new day carries, don’t forget that being in awe of the mystery unfolding before you is a natural response in any state of being. It is that wonder that heals wounds, and guides you faithfully to the eternal light of the present and all the joy concealed therein.
Some people worry, some stress. Some people have experienced trauma that never leaves their minds. Some people don’t want to be where they are right now, while others don’t like who they are.
Since I was a little girl the most dominant thought pattern disrupting my natural ease has been fear. While a fear of death outweighs other fears, it doesn’t really matter what I’m afraid of. The content of each fearful inkling doesn’t matter because after all of these years listening to a thought pattern fueled by fear I have found that anything can be used to feed its momentum. This is also why fear is my greatest teacher.
Whatever your most intrusive burden may be, it provides you with two paths. It has the power to drive you deeper into unconsciousness and pain, or drive you out into light and understanding. Fear is such an easily accessible fuel for my thoughts that I can either focus on the energetic train of one thought after another spurred by the initial feeling of fear, or I can use the fear to force me into becoming completely present.
The less focused I am on the reality of my immediate experience, the easier it is for old thought patterns to gain new life. Now when a fearful thought enters my mind, no matter how benign it may seem at first, I use it to force me into focusing on my surroundings. I visually examine whatever my gaze falls upon and make it the center of my attention. I listen closely to the sounds around me. Fearful thoughts still come, but they are balanced and increasingly overpowered by the intensity of presence which they trigger.
What thoughts cause you to suffer? Even if those thoughts are justified and grounded in reality, if they cause suffering they can become your presence trigger, they can wake you up. While joy, peace, and love are equally effective teachers of being, if you work with what you’ve got you can transform any substance into pure gold.
I first noticed it late one December evening. The little girl I was babysitting for had fallen asleep during her bedtime story and I sat next to her, legs outstretched on the bed, trying to devise a way to exit without making any noise. Staring at my feet I realized that, although I could feel my legs, I wasn’t feeling my toes. I moved them back and forth against one another, and the movement was there but I lacked the sensation that had been so obvious up until this point; I normally had extremely ticklish feet.
After going home and running my feet under hot water, doing various stretches, and attempting to tickle my toes with my fingernails, I conceded that at some point I’d have to get this checked out. Although my doctor tried different means of treating my unfeeling toes, as the weeks passed the only change was more uncomfortable tingling in my feet.
I am still engaged in outward means of bringing my feet back to normal, but after a few months the true message my feet were trying to send to me became too clear to ignore. I am addicted to numbing. And after so much work trying to numb myself, my body took the hint and complied, “if numbness is what you want, numbness is what you will get.”
The desire to numb yourself of emotions and pain manifests itself differently in those trying to escape that which they fear. Some numb themselves through shopping, others use food, entertainment, alcohol, drama, etc. The means with which we numb ourselves is a personal preference. What we try to numb ourselves from can be categorized as pain. What is painful to each of us, and what we fear, is also custom made according to the individual. But it all results in the attempt to use external things to numb inner discomfort.
So how can we possibly let go of that which numbs us, when we would do anything to not experience the pain that we are trying to avoid? For me the answer came in the form of numb feet. Having these cold tingly feet have made me realize how glorious my highly sensitive, ticklish feet were, as well as how powerfully thoughts and intentions manifest into form whether we want them to or not. The numbness, although an attempt to escape pain, has turned out to be painful. My body is letting me know that its harmonious functioning is dependent upon my ability to accept and feel that which I experience.
While some pain seems so overpowering that it may destroy you, in reality your consciousness is vast enough to encompass any experience it encounters. Not only can your witnessing self withstand the discomfort, but allowing yourself to fully feel it as it arises keeps you healthy. When pain is fully felt, it moves through you. When it is numbed, it lies dormant within, containing the power to disrupt every aspect of your life.
Now when I feel discomfort, fear, or pain I say to myself, “I allow myself to feel this right now.” Although in just the past week my tingly feet have had improved warmth and sensation, one of the medical tests the doctor still has to perform will involve needles and will undoubtedly be painful. This I am afraid of. So I allow both my fear of the situation, and the pain of the experience as well. Because the ability to feel is not only a sign of life, but is itself life sustaining.