A warm welcome to season two of the Awareness That Heals podcast. During this season, Robert will offer a series of Guided Meditations that help reveal our most challenging emotions. These short meditations are both personal and accessible to allow the listener to focus on themselves intuitively. They are also designed to work in conjunction with his book, Awareness That Heals. Robert and Dave create a safe space for us to feel and observe, without judgment, what is most challenging.
Practice and learn how to reframe the awareness of challenging feelings into a positive awareness that we can work with. By recognizing these challenges, we have the unique opportunity to see parts of ourselves that we tend to suppress or judge. It is a radical approach to experience the awareness of a difficulty as a positive. When we can accurately hear what is true about our internal difficulties we have clear clues as to what we need and an opportunity to move toward healing, deeper well-being, and an improvement in our quality of life.
Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Guided Meditation Video (YouTube)
Robert’s Book, “Awareness that Heals”
The Introspective Guides (Free Download)
The Global Bridge Foundation Website
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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 (00:44):
A very warm welcome again to Awareness That Heals where we focus on bringing our heart and our wisdom to life’s challenges. We start again and again with being aware of what is most difficult for us, understanding that these difficulties are universal for all of us, whether we recognize them or not and how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times. Today we’re gonna do something very different, which is to listen to the guided meditation that gives you a chance to have the very best learning about yourself, and it requires your honesty, your integrity, your humility so you can accurately hear what’s true.
It highlights the importance of being aware of what is difficult and deepening your realization and realizing that without it, we can’t really move into a healing direction with our wisdom. Even when we realize a challenging feeling, we are being encouraged to have a reaction that says, oh good, I can see it, rather than, oh shit, not that feeling again. This gives us the best chance to use the awareness to move in a direction that we can let it be the beginning of starting a healing, rather than getting sidetracked by suppressing it or judging it or misunderstanding or misinterpreting. This is a major victory each time we can observe what we feel without any distancing or judging. I wanna say that again. It’s so crucial that when we find a challenging feeling that it doesn’t lead to a judgment or a misinterpretation or a withdrawal. If we can just see it and go, oh, good, I can see myself, we’ve made a major turning point toward self-compassion. I call this “capital A” awareness, as it represents a beneficial use of awareness rather than using it against ourselves. We haven’t been taught how important this is and what an evolutionary step it is when normally many of us are just left with being challenged. Instead, we are using this to learn how to guide ourselves to move toward healing and well-being. I’d like to start off by introducing my partner at The Global Bridge Foundation and my closest friend for 50 years, Dave.
Robert, thank you. And I, I just wanna reflect, uh, that this is really tracking the book Awareness That Heals and the things that are in that, the things that have been in the podcasts themselves that have tracked that, and this is just an important way to get deeper and more personal into the aspects of what is in the book, in great detail, but not necessarily as accessible and personalized as it will be with this guided meditation.
Robert Strock (04:26):
Yeah, you’re really touching on the key point, which is the book is more complex and to some extent even the podcast is more complex, but the guided meditation is just for you. You get to be you. It’s all about you putting yourself in the position and getting to self-evaluate and getting to guide yourself in a direction that for many it was you. It’s gonna be quite new. It’s the, by far, the most personal way to approach awareness that heals. So the reason why we’re highlighting the guided meditations is because it’s the deepest way you can be the best you, in a very short period of time. Most of these are five minutes. You’ll get a chance to preview a part of you that is challenging and learn a number of different ways that you can move toward, uh, a direction that will support you, that will help heal you or will help move you toward well-being.
I’d ask you to elaborate a little bit about what you mean, which you just did, but more clearly what you mean by a guided meditation in this context.
Robert Strock (05:55):
Yeah. A guided meditation is a form of meditation that isn’t classic in terms of just being silent or quiet or concentrated, but it is guiding you to think about an area of your life that you may not be aware of. And frankly, all the meditations are gonna guide us to areas where we are not aware of, and it’s supportive because it’s aiming at the center of your heart where it’s not full. How do I navigate from here? So it’s actually a strategy where it’s a form of meditation, but you don’t have to meditate <laugh>. The concentrated attention is put on an aspect of you, what you need to do is be your honest, sincere self and not avoid it, not space out, but actually say, ah, this is it for me. For example, if we’re exploring anxiety, then you’re looking for where you might have been most anxious and putting yourself in that situation.
Nobody else can do it for you. So it really is a unique opportunity to have a magnifying glass on a part of yourself that most of us suppress intermittently. This is actually a big deal, even though it may sound like a casual insight, we’re conditioned to have our difficult feelings be a source of shame, judgment. We wanna suppress it, we don’t like it. It’s almost revolutionary. You might even say it is revolutionary to view awareness of difficulty as a positive. So much so I wanna say it again, it really is revolutionary, and if you really listen to this carefully, I hope it’s obvious to you to actually view our awareness of difficulty as a positive. And the reason why it’s a positive is because the fact that we can view it gives us a chance to respond in a way that’s gonna benefit us, rather than just being left in a challenged place.
We all need to remind ourselves over and over again, this is one of our big opportunities to improve our quality of life. And I’m talking about this as an incentive to really participate in the guided meditation because you getting to be you, you getting to look at parts of you that you will react to that will not give you a chance to be a healthy responder. So take a look carefully at what you do even before the guided meditation, just take a look at how you react in your inner mind when you’re angry or hostile or jealous or anxious or depressed, and you’ll see that almost invariably there’ll be a subtle little voice that’ll go, oh, you’re an asshole, or, wow, you’re jealous, that’s pathetic. You’re anxious, God, how long are you gonna be anxious? So we have a negative reaction. We can’t stop on a dime and really stay with the original challenging feeling.
Instead, we usually have a constellation of feelings. So the guided meditations, and this guided meditation today, is to help you understand that. Now the difference with this first guided meditation is this, guided meditation is a bit more of a guided teaching where we’re trying to help you understand the premise of how important it is to pause and have that positive caring response. When you realize you’re in a challenging emotion or a challenging situation, it’s a reminder and it’s more of an educational reminder in this first one rather than a personal reminder, meaning that you’re personally going to fill in the pieces. You’re being taught or being encouraged to really value your awareness of your difficult, challenging emotions. And it’s particularly important in areas of your life that are most important to you.
It occurs to me right now that probably for close to the first 20 years of my life, I would’ve had zero interest in this because I was completely unaware of my inner world or eh, let’s say enough unaware of my inner world or let’s say disinterested, if I had any awareness that like what for? Who needs this? And so when I reflect back from a great distance of years, I just wanna say to whoever is listening or whoever out there may know a person like that, this is universal and it really is. Whether somebody is aware of it or not, it’s there. It’s a thousand percent there.
Robert Strock (12:06):
Yeah, and one of the things you’re highlighting, thank you for that, really thank you for that. There are so many people in the spiritual world in particular who think, I don’t need to pay attention more to what I, where I’m unhappy or dissatisfied or suffering, I don’t need to pay attention. I’ve already l looked at that enough. But they don’t see that it’s actually minimizing it by giving yourself an option to care. It’s like, do you care when you’re jealous? Do you care for yourself? It’s almost a stupid question. Of course I don’t. The whole point is there’s a chance that you could, so that’s the lead in. So I would just ask that as you listen to this first guided meditation, that you just listen and take in the information because it’s gonna highlight what’s one thing that’s really the beginning of Awareness That Heals, the book itself, which is being aware of your, where you’re unaware.
And that means not only that you’re unaware of the challenging emotion, but maybe even more so you’re unaware of a chain reaction that happens afterward. And that caring for yourself isn’t even on the books most of the time when you’re in a challenging emotion. So please listen to that as you’re listening to this guided meditation. Guided meditation is for so many people, the best way to truly gain benefit in your response to personal challenges. As you invest and bring your own experience to the guided meditations, you’ll give yourself the best chance to change long-standing 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. Just allow yourself to settle, just listening to the sounds and silence. And don’t just go through the motions, actually be in your ears and hear a sound or the absence of sound and see if you can maybe enjoy it. Just being present, letting yourself also be open to sensations in your body. And you might even be able to be aware of thoughts where as they arise, you might be able to just pause and say, ah, thoughts, and then watch them disappear
Wherever your attention goes, start by asking the question, what is my most challenging emotion during this time period or now? Let it be crisp, clear and simple, and use the Introspective Guide list if needed. See if you can really identify what this challenging feeling is and befriend it, join it, breathe into it, recognizing that you’re in a safe place to feel. Ask yourself again, what is the feeling you least like to discover inside yourself and see if you can notice also your normal reaction to it. You might have these compounding thoughts or feelings that lead you into a circle. And by seeing that clearly you have the possibility of pausing. So let yourself feel the feeling, see the feeling and just pause and see if you can say to yourself and feel, oh good, I can see my feeling. I’m not just immersed in it rather than, oh shit, when you see the challenging feelings and have a disdain or dislike for it that you’re highlighting. How can you suggest to yourself, ask yourself to greet it in the future? What do you want to suggest when you have this feeling that you least like in general.
It might be something like, I’m glad I have the courage and a will to grow, to see it clearly and as stably as possible. I have an undesirable feeling at one level, but I’m still very glad I see it clearly. Stay with it. There’s a tendency, notice your tendency to say yuck or the equivalent and let yourself go, okay, I wanna see it, use it, so it doesn’t own me, because if I don’t pay attention to it, it will own me. Do you get that? Are you able to see that If you don’t have the ability to observe where you are, it runs the show. Whereas if you observe the observer has a chance to run the show, the awareness of it helps, if not, the awareness of it helps it not run your next moments. Recognize that being aware that you aren’t aware is the key to growing and being more humble. Does that make sense to you?
Robert Strock (18:45):
Oh, I am unconscious, I am human. I maybe sometimes make myself believe I’m aware, but of course I’m unaware of a lot. None of us are totally aware. Can you smile at that? Notice that you may have some fleeting awareness or quick thoughts that say, oh yeah, I can see when I get angry. I can see when I withdraw from my wife or my husband. I can see when I’m a bit of an ass. And notice how that kind of zips in and zips out and recognize that without awareness you can’t grow. It is the essence and the provider of growth. And it requires humility, honesty, and courage. Now this might sound basic to you, but it’s not basic. When you’re dealing with the parts of you that are aware of where you’re unaware, that’s not basic, that’s brand new. And we always have brand new stuff defined. Recognize that awareness is like a great pregnancy toward healing. It can even lead to a small prayer. May I stay aware of the challenging emotions for my benefit and everyone’s benefit? It’s a major first step to appreciate your awareness, recognize that we’ll be taking it further, but we can’t start ahead of ourselves and be helpful.
And it’s enormous to appreciate the awareness of our challenges. See if you can, even as you’re hearing this, appreciate your awareness of your challenges and keep repeating this until you create some movement because it’s not automatic when we see feelings we don’t like that we can appreciate. Maybe we start with barely being able to tolerate, then we tolerate, then we accept. And then maybe we can appreciate even at least in your awareness, think the thoughts that I want to appreciate my awareness of my challenges, whether it’s anger, anxiety, grief, emptiness, or whatever this appreciation of awareness shows. It’s a major step on which we grow when we stay aware or we become aware of something that we haven’t been able to stably be aware of before. See if you can thank yourself for the willingness to look for the awareness of where you’re unaware and the appreciation to encourage you to go further.
Now, that makes me reflect just as a way of winding this episode down on my first reaction to the first month after the kidney transplant, when I was in the worst hell, and it lasted for a long time. But this insight, this led to an insight that allowed me to value just the pure awareness of the challenge. And at that time, I would say in the middle of the night, cuz I was up, is this gonna go on forever? I can’t stand this, I hate this inability to feel love. I was up in the middle of the night and said that to myself over and over again. And that ultimately led to me saying to myself, you know what, I’m not trusting this mind that’s just reactive. I wanna just stay with the feeling of where I am. I’m not listening to this bullshit reaction that I’m having.
It’s, it’s not valuable. It’s not gonna teach me anything. It’s not gonna help me. So I’m gonna stay aware. And even if I can’t care, cuz my emotions are crushed by the medication and lack of sleep, I’m gonna at least develop a mind that’s gonna be supportive of me. I’m gonna say, this would be hard for anyone. I know you’re trying the hardest you can. I can see you feel like shit. I know you haven’t done anything wrong. This is the chemistry. This is not you. This is the chemistry. So I hope that you, as you listen to this first one, can use it as an awakening not only of a challenging emotion, but the chain reaction and start to help inspire you to break the chain and recognize you want to care for yourself. Or as I’ve said in the book as well, as you want to care for yourself, “the intention to heal.” And I hope you’ll join us all the way through the journey and the rest of the meditations are all gonna have you in the center from now on. So please join us on this journey.
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