In this episode, we learn to use inquiry to ask questions designed to nurture one’s heart. These questions may include: “How can I care for myself?” “How can I support myself when I’m feeling intense emotions?” When you thoroughly explore the question, you can access your capacity to observe it transparently, without negativity, simply witnessing it as a challenging emotion. Learning how to support yourself when you’re in such a difficult emotion is both subtle and powerful. It is a three-step process of embracing and identifying the emotion or feeling, asking the right questions that will guide you to care for yourself during the experience, then listening to the guidance and giving your best efforts to fulfill what is being suggested. Keep in mind that your tone of voice matters a lot.
This guided meditation will help you to embrace a specific fear or emotion with keen awareness—simply noticing it, being aware of it, and not resisting it. Recognize that when you are faced with a challenging emotion, and you ask questions from your heart or from a self-caring tone, you will begin to feel a sense of safety and security and a direction that you need to go to support yourself. All of us have challenging emotions and feelings, and what’s needed is to add this intention, this desire to deeply care for yourself, gently identify your feeling, ask caring questions, respond to the wisdom that comes, and for it to be the center of your daily life. This holistic approach enables you to foster a deeper connection with yourself and a greater sense of tranquility and intimacy with others.
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. For an exact quote or comment, please contact us.
Awareness That Heals, Episode 103.
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock, has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book, “Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges,” to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges. Especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.
Robert Strock (00:47):
Thanks again so much for joining us at Awareness That Heals where we really give our best efforts to bring our heart and our wisdom to our life’s challenges. And today we’re going to be using inquiry, which is the art of asking questions that are designed to support our heart. So what that means is we’re not asking questions like what’s wrong with you? We’re asking questions like, how can I care for you? How can I support you when you’re feeling something that’s very difficult? And we’re looking for a continuous support of feeling wherever you are, even if you generally don’t like that particular feeling, as a matter of fact, especially when you don’t like that particular feeling. And what we’re doing is asking questions when you have that feeling and you felt it and asking, how can I support myself when I’m in this feeling?
And of course every situation is unique. And so it requires you to do this two-step process of embrace and identify your challenging feeling and then ask the questions of how can you care for yourself while it’s happening? Now that might sound simple, but it’s not something that we were taught to do. And the general tendency is when we have feelings that are challenging instead of caring for ourselves, we usually give ourselves a hard time. So do a brief pause and identify your challenging feeling that’s most difficult for you, and see how rare it really is that you pause, feel it, and then are supportive with asking this kind of question. So one of the places that we’re going to support is when you have identified your challenging feeling, starting off by asking what are the specific thoughts that would help you while you’re in this feeling, very tangible.
So you’re in fear and you may say something like, I see you fear. I know you’re not doing it on purpose. I wanna support you. Can you hear me? And you’re really listening to whether the fear can actually feel or sense that it wants to be supported. Now, that’s very subtle. And notice that when you’re saying these thoughts that your tone of voice matters a lot. If you bring some caring to these thoughts, that’s another very important subtlety, fear, I know that this is difficult for you, so I’m going to stay with you. I can outlast you. I am the one that sees you and that responds to you. And I’m gonna keep asking questions that are gonna lead me to thoughts that are going to be supportive of how you can best navigate your present situation and find courage, find safety, which is the need that is there when we’re afraid.
Now, does that connect with you? And can you see as you look, okay, when I’m afraid I have a need for safety or courage and I wanna focus on that and by asking questions, does that make sense to you? Does it make enough sense to you to where you believe you can start to do that in life? Just start out and pause and recognize that the guided meditation that we’re going to be doing in this episode is gonna put you right in the center of, of your fear, or whatever your challenging emotion is that you wanna substitute, encourage you to embrace it. Embrace the fear or the feeling with just keen awareness, just noticing. And sometimes it can be referred to as an accepting awareness. So you’re not only aware of it, you’re not resisting it, you’re not fighting with it, you’re just recognizing, ah, this is where I am here.
The tone, the tone has an acceptance, but more importantly, hear your tone. Is your tone when you’ve faced your challenging feelings? A, are you pausing long enough to identify them? And B, is there that tone that is asking you the question, how can I support you? How much is that a part of your life? And for most people, it’s virtually not at all. So we’re talking about really penetrating in this guided meditation into the feeling that’s hardest for you. And again, using inquiry to find the thoughts at the beginning and we’ll penetrate further beyond the thoughts. But it starts with thoughts that are with you, that are for you, that are befriending you because why would you wanna do anything else? And of course the answer is you wouldn’t want to consciously, but unfortunately, most of us have been taught we’re supposed to be together. And if we’re not together, then we’re going to criticize ourselves when we’re in a feeling state that is not in our approval list.
It’s also helpful to make statements to yourself that are empathic. Like, I know this is really hard for you. I know this is a spot where you frequently go down the tubes, you fall into a hole and I see that, and I wanna support you to stay above ground and to learn how to be the navigator. And I’m gonna keep asking questions and I’m going to keep giving guiding thoughts that are supportive of you, recognizing that you’re changing not only all the years of your life and the conditioning that you’ve had, but your parents and your parents’ parents. This is a skill to be able to add a caring response to whatever is most challenging. One of the key features of this is simply remembering because it’s so unfamiliar to most of us, that even if we understand how to do it and maybe even can implement it a fair extent. We, in the heat of the moment, when we have a challenging feeling, we forget. So right now, just have a voice inside you. Ah, remember, remember that this is important ’cause it’s gonna allow me to be where I’m most challenged. And I have a tendency to have a constellation of feelings that make it even worse, or I reject myself or I withdraw from those that I love. And instead, I have the capacity to find these questions that will lead me to guidance and to wisdom.
So we’re going to start a meditation now where I encourage you to stay with your most challenging feeling and to put yourself in the center of the meditation. Don’t just listen to my words in your head, go to your challenging feeling and then see if you can accept your feeling. And then start with the inquiry. And we’ll move a little bit beyond.
Guided meditation is for so many people, the best way to truly gain benefit in your response to personal challenges. As you invest in bring your own experience to the guided meditations, you’ll give yourself the best chance to change longstanding patterns from suffering toward a state of well-being, peace, and healing. It’s important to put yourself in a comfortable body position in a private space where you’re not disturbed, turn off your phone and be ready to really be alert. So start off by breathing in a way that you recognize that your quality of life and your life is dependent on your breathing. And therefore, of course, the part of you that’s most aware and sensitive to yourself. Recognize right now that you wanna find a rhythm that is going to support you to be as peaceful and relaxed as possible.
So pause and just take some in breaths and especially on the out breath, let it be ahhh. You can even make sounds if there are sounds to be made, groans or releases or relief. And as you’ve settled into your body, let yourself identify the challenging emotion that’s most affected you throughout your life. Or perhaps it’s something that’s occurring in present time. And as you drop in to accept this feeling that you’re going through, ask yourself, what is your wisdom? What is your sensibility? What is your intelligence telling you? Would be the best way for you to think about this and to respond to this? So the first one almost inevitably is going to be challenging feeling, I accept you. I’m going to give you a chance to breathe without adding anything onto you. And I want to care for you right now. And I want to ask myself, how can I best care for you? And you pause. And if you don’t know, recognize that means it’s even more important to give it attention. Not knowing is an invitation to go deep. It’s not “not knowing,” period. I don’t know and then I’m gonna space out. Let yourself recognize a lot of the time you’re not gonna know. And then the next supportive thoughts would be, good, you’re going deep.
Stay focused on how can I care for you? And recognize that when this is asked more and more from your heart or from a tone that cares for you, that it really allows whatever challenging feeling you’re having to feel like it’s in a safe neighborhood, to feel like it’s okay to be exactly as it is, which then makes it a lot easier to ask the question and to warm yourself up to being warmed up to care for yourself. One of the hardest things is to remember that this is important. And when you have these feelings that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. It’s the beginning of a process where you get to care for yourself if you both remember, and you can find that place inside you that just intuitively knows, of course, I’d rather care for myself rather than belittle myself or ignore what’s happening. Sometimes it might be just a silence that occurs, you feel where you are. Let’s just say you feel insecure or you feel angry, or you feel inadequate, and then you ask the question and you just don’t have any answers at all. You’re just completely in silence.
It’s helpful at the end of the silence to say, good on me. I just allowed myself to be quiet with the question. And that is another sign of taking yourself in the direction of your heart. This may seem crazy or even schizophrenic. How can I feel this worst feeling that I’ve dreaded my whole life and care for myself? I can’t be two people at once. Recognize that, yes, right now you can be two parts of yourself at once. You can feel your most difficult feelings, the ones that you probably like the least, and still find this resourceful resiliency that cares for you. Just pause for a second and just give yourself a suggestion. Do you wanna say to yourself, remember this? Can you see that you don’t want your challenging feelings to be monopolizing your inner world and that you want to integrate it with the wisest and most compassionate side of yourself? Recognize that this is completely universal. All of us in the world have challenging feelings, and what’s needed is to add this intention, this wish, this desire to really care for yourself. And when you’re in that duality, you’re in a really grounded effort to be authentic and to see what’s possible, to move in a direction that’s going to help you discover what it is that you need, and then how you can support that need.
It can come to a point where the reverse of how it’s been can be so. And by that I mean that instead of your feelings dominating your life, this wish to care for yourself becomes the center of your life. Now, pause for a few moments and feel into, oh, I’m tired of not caring for myself. I want this to be the center of my life. So no matter what arises, this is a place that I would like to be more and more of who I am. And if I remember and I dedicate myself to this, it’s entirely realistic, but I can’t just go through the motions. This is not, remember as you’re dropping into where you are and caring for yourself, this is not an intellectual exercise. This is an existential experience of you being you and adding these caring, inquiring questions and guidances because it makes the sense to you.
One of the important features that you need to watch for, look for it now, is it’s not about being abstract. Like I know you’re a good person. When you’re in the middle of fear, that’s not gonna be very helpful. You want it to be as specific as possible, relating exactly to your challenging feeling. So if it is fear, it’s gonna be courage and safety or something like that that you’re looking at. If you’re in anger, it’s going to be looking for some way of having it be peaceful or more relaxed, more tolerant, rather than acting out. As you’re here, see if you can sense any appreciation or gratitude for you doing this work, being real and going beyond just your feeling to really dig deep, to find the part of you that not only wants to care, that is caring, just sense with where you are with your challenge.
Can you sense some kind of a exchange between those two places? So remember again and again that your capacity is to both accept, deeply, accept your emotional state that’s most challenging, and you can see that there’s the possibility that truly for the rest of your life, you can catch that feeling and realize, this is the time when I need my best self. This is the time when I need my intelligence. This is the time when I need my wisdom. This is the time when I really wanna bring my heart as much as possible. And if I can only start off with a little bit, appreciate that. And if you can’t appreciate it yet, then just let yourself see exactly where you are. But you know, you have this deep knowing that you want to increase your capacity whenever you’re challenged to care for yourself, to ask the questions that would lead to that very specifically, and that you can see this is gonna allow you to develop greater intimacy with yourself, with others, and have a greater peace in your heart.
So again, see where this leaves you. Is it an encouragement? Do you feel like a hopefulness or a sense of safety that you’re not left with just being challenged and end of story? Or do you feel skeptical about the process? Does it seem too simple? Well, if it seems too simple, you’re probably half right, because it requires enormous commitment to really find that place and remember that you want to care for yourself when you’re most challenged. So I would say appreciate yourself if you’re ah, only a little bit confident, but you think it sounds too simple because just doing a meditation is too simple. It needs to be part of your lifestyle. So I wanna thank you for taking this time to really face yourself authentically and to want to bring your best heart, your best intelligence to this feeling, which is an evolutionary stage of life, and that you are game for it. Thanks so much for listening.
Join The Conversation
Thanks for listening to Awareness That Heals. Please click subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, the best way to help spread the word is to rate and review the show. This helps other listeners, like you, find this podcast. We’re deeply grateful you’re here and that we have found each other. We encourage you to download our Introspective Guides at awarenessthatheals.org; they will be helpful to you while listening to our podcast.
Visit our podcast archive page