In continuation of our guided meditation series, Robert offers a practice on self-compassion, which is the missing ingredient to lasting change. This guided meditation also includes a discussion surrounding its purpose and how it can be directly helpful to you, no matter what challenge you might be facing right now. Intellectual awareness of our emotions is crucial, but even that is not enough to make substantial change. Accessing the desire to care for ourselves is often the final and missing ingredient to finding and nurturing our thoughts, and integrating our heart and mind during these challenging times. Without an organic longing to care for ourselves, we cannot move in a healing direction in a sustainable and persistent way.
Inspire your path to healing, rather than getting sidetracked by suppressing, judging, misunderstanding, or misinterpreting what challenges you emotionally. Although through time your challenges will change, the process of identifying, finding a place that wants to care, and then actually being able to care for yourself is the combination that leads to the real goldmine. Guided meditation is for many people the best way to gain benefits in response to personal challenges. As you invest in bringing your own experience to this guided meditation, you will give yourself the best chance to change long-standing patterns from suffering towards a state of well-being, peace, and healing. Find a comfortable, quiet space, and let Robert’s voice guide you.
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Awareness That Heals, Episode 92.
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):
A very warm welcome again to Awareness That Heals where we focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. We start again and again with being aware of what is most difficult for us and recognize 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 going to do something very different, which is to listen to the guided meditation that gives us a warning, that intellectual awareness, even if it is stable, isn’t enough to make substantial change in moving toward our heart. We are still lacking an ingredient of finding and utilizing our caring for our thoughts and implementing them in our lives. We can know something and still remain stuck in repeating the pattern. This insight is invaluable to lead us to the next step. It highlights the importance of being aware of what is difficult for us and deepening our realization that without finding an organic longing to care for ourselves and our situation, we can’t really move into a healing direction with our wisdom.
This is the completing meditation that allows for the full awareness that heals. Even when we realize a challenging feeling, we are being encouraged to have a response like, oh, good, I can see my challenging feeling, rather than, oh shit, not that feeling. Again, that gives us the best chance to use the awareness to move in a direction that we can let it be the beginning of starting healing rather than getting sidetracked by suppressing it, judging it, or misunderstanding or misinterpreting it. This is a major victory each time we can observe what we feel and look for and find the place inside really key here that wants to care for ourselves and perseveres to make it our reality that unquestionably will go on in increasing stages in our life. Before I go on further, I’d like to introduce Dave, my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and Dears friend for over 50 years.
Robert, thank you. I think the guided meditations are essential to listen to along with the prior analogous chapters of the book, and I urge people to take a look at that book, but especially listen to the podcasts and bring life and insight that is, as you will guide people, taking them to the places you’re talking about in the book and in the prior episodes we’ve done on the book.
Robert Strock (04:04):
Thanks Dave. The thing I cannot emphasize enough is the guided meditation is your chance to make it really personal for you to be active. If you’re just listening to my words and you’re not getting involved, you’re missing the point. The whole point of the guided meditation that we’ll be doing in a few minutes is that you are the center of the universe and you’re accessing your challenging emotion. You are one that is most either in the recent past or in the present or anticipated future, the one that is most significant for you. And of course through time it’ll change, but the process of identifying it and then finding that place that wants to care and actually is able to care for you, that becomes the combination, the real goldmine of I can see where I’m suffering and I want to care for my suffering.
One of the things that we really covered in a couple of the prior episodes is that the first stage of being aware is being aware that we’re unaware. And that sounds maybe either like a clever statement or a plan on words, but if we don’t have that humility or it’s not even humility sensibility to see that, of course we’re all unconscious, of course, we are not able to be aware of everything, our tone of voice, our attitudes, when we’re angry, when we’re withdrawing, of course we’re not able to be aware. So that’s the first step of awareness is being aware that we’re unaware. And then we’ve covered also that what frequently happens after that occurs is that we have fleeting awareness. And fleeting awareness is we have a unusual insight into our life, our behavior that oftentimes is not thrilling, which is why we can only stay with it for a short period of time.
Why it fleets out, it flips out. And so we might say, oh, I’m really an asshole when I’m angry boo boo, I don’t wanna stay with that. You know, I’m really being unfair to my husband or my wife. Don’t wanna stay with that. It would be too disturbing. So fleeting awareness is a next step. And then what we covered in the introduction today is gonna be a part of completing this whole understanding of awareness that heals, which is that the third level of awareness, besides being aware of being unaware, besides fleeting awareness, is when we’re stably intellectually aware of what our challenging emotion is. And that is so confusing even in the psychology world where I’ve heard a hundred thousand times, I’m aware that I’m angry, I’m aware that I’m grieving as if that’s a final stage, but that kind of awareness doesn’t really heal us.
And it’s so important. See if this is going in to your understanding. You can see where you are emotionally, but that seeing—if it doesn’t have the ingredient of your heart opening to yourself of caring for yourself, sometimes I refer to it as your own intention to heal. If you don’t have that ingredient happening while you’re in your challenging emotion, then the odds are very likely and virtually inevitable that if you’re just aware of your anger or just aware of your grief, it’s not gonna bring the nutritious ingredient of your heart. Mixing in with that stable intellectual awareness, it is helpful to be able to track yourself emotionally, but only a bit. But when you bring your heart to yourself where you know you want to care, that is gold. I often say intellectual awareness is very similar to that age-old expression of a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.
And that little bit of knowledge would be, oh, I’m aware of my anger, I’m aware of my fear. And then my response as best I can is, are you able to care for yourself while you’re aware? Are you able to see the direction that would be healing while, for example, you’re, he, you’re angry, are you able to see the direction of healing while you’re grieving? And when you bring your heart and there is also bringing your wisdom to your challenging emotion, then you open the door to being able to fertilize whatever’s there and really give birth to new possibilities of a quality of life. It is so often with my clients for almost 50 years friends and even family that we’ve had hundreds of conversations about someone saying, I understand that. And that’s another way of staying with being aware, but not necessarily bringing any heart or wisdom to that awareness.
And so please, as you’re listening to this, see how the tendency for frankly, the more developed people is to say, I’m aware of something and think that awareness is a healing awareness, but it requires heart and wisdom being brought to that awareness. So that’s almost invariably the beginning door with every relationship I have that’s receptive to explore. You know, for example, if you’re grieving, I might ask, are you caring for yourself while you’re grieving? Or if you’re angry, are you caring? Are you, are you looking for the way to be harmless or to have this workout well for you? People don’t know whether, whether to slap me or thank me. You know, they’re not sure whether I’m ridiculing them at first, but it’s very clear and often disorienting to the person hearing that cuz because they do think that that third level of awareness, that’s just intellectual awareness is actually very helpful.
As you say what you just said, I reflect on how many times I’ve heard somebody say, I get that. I understand that as if they’re aware, but really what I’m getting is a pushback. I’m getting, I, I don’t wanna talk about it. It really has to be translated. It’s not close to, I’m aware of something. It’s a defense and it’s not close to what you’re describing of going to another level where you’re caring about yourself and in the interaction and trying to get what’s really going on with you.
Robert Strock (11:53):
Exactly. It makes me remember a time where a client was getting angry at her husband and I said to her, do you really want to get angry at your husband and think that that’s being aware and you’re expressing your anger and getting it out? Do you, do you not see that? That’s very likely to create a power struggle? And her response was, for quite a while, I love getting angry at my husband. You’re not gonna take that away from me. And so we all need to take a look at is our habit to actually go to that level of caring for self and bringing wisdom to self and by extension that affecting those around us. What’s helpful is to be able to say to yourself when you only intellectually understand your feelings, is to say, I realize I’m only understanding this intellectually. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s actually a fairly advanced stage to be there. And if you can be aware of that, that can be the motivation to wanna bring your heart into the actual experience that you’re in. So I’m gonna ask you to prepare yourself. Hopefully you’re in a position where you’re able to be still, your phones are off, you’re not gonna be interrupted, be in your most comfortable position. So we can start the 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 in 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 and let yourself notice your rhythm of breathing. Just, am I breathing shallow? Am I breathing deeply? Am I enjoying breathing? Just let yourself start being focused by just looking at the rhythm of breathing. One of the keys is you can actually find a rhythm of breathing, which I’m suggesting you do right now, that’s relax for you, that’s comfortable, just gently letting it flow in a way that feels most natural to you. So you can also spend a few seconds just listening to the sounds around you. And while you’re doing that, ask yourself, what is my most challenging emotion that I’m facing during this time of my life? Or perhaps in the moment or today?
And take a few seconds, maybe a half a minute, to really see, can you identify what the emotion is that brings the most challenge for you in life? And that identification hold. Hopefully let yourself recognize it and let it be followed with, ah, I’m glad I can see the nature of my suffering. See if you can let yourself appreciate your taking this time to be aware and noticing what’s happening in your heart. And keep remembering this is about you following my words, but not getting absorbed in my words. The key is you getting absorbed in your feeling to be able to feel it enough to have it be stable. It could be sadness, frustration, grief, fear, anxiety, but whatever is yours, let yourself stay there and keep your awareness steady and realize that at this safe place, the more you feel it, the better chance that it will catalyze you to stay aware of it. So feel it as much as possible. So no matter what your feeling is, I’m gonna be using fear as an example, but stay with your feeling. And so you might say fear, fear, fear, whatever is going to allow you to stay with wherever you are.
And as that stabilizes, ask yourself the question, can I find a place inside me while I’m aware of this challenging feeling where I want to care for myself at the same time? And I’m gonna say it again and please be inside yourself. This is an enormous
challenge and it’s a mini miracle whenever any of us can do it, which is while you are aware of your challenging feeling, can I even remember, can you even remember to ask yourself, can I find a place inside that wants to care for myself right where I am? Are you able to be in touch with a part of you that wants to care for yourself while you feel this most challenging feeling? Now this is really asking a lot because normally challenging feelings run the day, look at yourself and see how that’s the case. Normally, if you feel afraid, thoughts of fear, come right after it. You start anticipating the future. What if you see yourself? Let yourself do as much as you can to say, I wanna care for myself. I don’t wanna let these emotional thoughts run the whole show. That’s kind of predictably gonna lead me sideways.
Whereas if I remember to ask the question, can I feel the caring and the desire to care for myself and start to generate, oh, I’m sorry you have to go through this. This is difficult. I want to guide you to take care of yourself while you’re in this challenging feeling. So just notice that, especially when you’re not in the meditation, it’s a big deal when you’re in a challenging feeling. And so it’s so important to practice while you’re not in the heat of it, cuz it’s easier to have a simultaneity of a challenging feeling and this deep yearning, longing, desire to care for yourself and find out what that means to you uniquely in whatever situation you’re in. And while you’re aware of your desire to help yourself, you’re asking for guidance. How can I help myself? How can I support myself? What thoughts will be helpful?
Or it might be something like, I’m sorry, you have to go through this. It might be telling you to rest or to call the doctor or a therapist or a friend or communicate. But the point is, you can have a friend inside you that cares for you while you are going through it. This is a evolutionary step and stage where all of us can develop self-compassion, self-love, and it will be spread to those that are close to us. It likely will just start with new thoughts that are not coming from the feeling, because the feeling is a very powerful, primal instinct. So you need to be content and not believe that just because you have the new thoughts coming that they’re going to overwhelm the feeling right away. That’s the easiest way to lose this meditation. Be content to have one level of deep feeling and then the guidance. And the more you follow this guidance, the better chance you have to find peace and strength and gentleness or whatever is most needed. So leave this meditation with a wish to carry it on outside of this time period, and especially be a seed of a reminder when you’re having this challenging feeling in your life. I wanna thank you for giving your attention to this very, very important part of your life. And also am hoping that you’re thanking yourself for your own devotion.
At a simplistic level, it would be helpful to think of the actual qualities and actions that would create peace, courage, or whatever you need for healing. So for example, if you’re afraid you might, and you very likely would allow yourself to think of courage or safety. If you’re dealing with fear or if you’re sad, you’ll be asking yourself, what do I need to have a better stepping stone toward happiness? Or when you’re anxious, you might focus on calm. How can I move toward calmness? Now, as I say this, this is not an act of magic that you’re just gonna be able to go from anxiety. Think about calmness, and you’re gonna get there. What’s gonna be coming over the whole year of meditations is a progression of how you can move from these challenging feelings to be able to have different strategies like asking yourself questions, how can I help myself?
They’re gonna be, uh, abundance of strategies of how you can move from the challenging feelings toward what will allow you greater peace or beta greater fulfillment. I wanna encourage you again and again that just being aware of your feelings or even being aware of your needs isn’t enough to move toward healing <affirmative> as you need to cultivate a depth of caring at this time when it frequently hasn’t even been considered. If you look, and I’m asking you to look now at your most challenging feelings, how many times have you pivoted from most challenging feelings? And then the center of the universe your universe was focused on? Okay, now I’m gonna really focus on caring for where I am and the situation I’m in and I’m devoted to it. And realize that you’re really developing a new muscle and that this is something that is not only for insight, but which requires weeks and months and years and decades to deepen the practice, to be able to really support yourself and bring your heart and wisdom to your challenges.
Would it be fair to say that moving from feelings, as you said, it’s not enough there and it’s not enough as a next step to be aware of needs, but it is a step along the way towards self-caring. Is that fair to say?
Robert Strock (25:02):
It’s not only fair to say, it’s a crucial next step that being aware of your feelings and then starting to identify your needs, which is exactly what the Introspective Guides are, which I encourage everyone to download at AawarenessThatHeals.org the Introspective Guides is on the top line and there’s a free download that identifies 75 key challenging feelings and key essential needs and qualities that will help heal. That is a crucial starting point. It’s just also important to realize that okay, you might be half the way there, but then it’s generating more and more capacity to how do I actually support myself to move into my needs? How do I develop communication? How do I develop trust in myself? How do I get over feelings of inadequacy and not have that paralyzed me? How do I not stay frozen? So, it’s an enormous step. And then there are many, many steps that are available for the rest of our lives.
None of us are masters of this. This is something that doesn’t have a mastery. It’s helpful to think of this as like an arrow direction. I wanna move more and more in a direction where I can identify my challenging feelings. I can see what needs would be helpful, and I’m going to have multiple strategies as to how I can think, what actions I need to take, what qualities I need to develop to support myself, to be able to coexist with these challenging feelings and to be able to help move toward healing. And it’s also important other idea to realize the idea isn’t to eliminate the challenging feeling. The idea is to be with it. That means to coexist with it. Where you have a part of you that might be your wisdom suggesting something, you might access a quality of caring. But it doesn’t mean that the challenging feelings have to go away.
Challenging feelings aren’t a problem. What’s the problem is when we fully identify with them and they own us. What this is a process where we can accept the challenging feelings. And yes, through time and through caring and through awareness that heals, we can and we will move in a direction toward inner harmony, peace, trust, courage, and a number of the other qualities that all of us would be most fulfilled when we experience. So again, I wanna say it’s guiding ourselves without having to change our feelings at all. The goal isn’t to change our challenging feelings that’ll happen on its own. It’s kind of like we have a plant there and the plant, let’s say needs water. We don’t have to do anything with a plant, we just need to water it. So we need to water it. We need to bring sunshine to it.
And that’s what the essential needs and qualities and actions and thoughts are. So let yourself feel yourself as you are and at the same in this challenging feeling that you’ve identified. And at the same time, look and see how much you are able to find a place that wants to care for yourself and let’s say goes even beyond that, is able to start to care for yourself. And no matter where you are, appreciate that you’re on this journey to be able to not have your challenging feelings, have a period at the end of it, meaning that, oh, I’m afraid. And then that’s the end of it. There’s no caring, there’s no water, there’s no, there’s no sunlight, that you wanna be the sunlight in the water and you also don’t feel like you have to change the feeling. It will change on its own when you become a more nurturing wise presence to coexist with it. This is the awareness that heals and, and the more you can add the future supplements in the following meditations, and the more you can care for yourself with your heart and wisdom, it will also lead to you caring for the world and your intimate relationships as well. And I wanna thank you again for your attention. This is such an important area for all of us.
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