Awareness that Heals

The Paradox of Opening to Challenging Feelings – Episode 99

The Paradox of Opening to Challenging Feelings - Episode 99Asking yourself to discover what feelings are most difficult to unlock and access the wisdom that helps you the most may seem like a gloomy task. However, inquiring inwardly to pinpoint where you feel stuck, buried, or like you’re in quicksand allows you to see where you have an unmet need. Letting the exposure to these challenging emotions motivate you to deal with an area where part of you is struggling can naturally lead you to your dearest needs. You may be discovering anxiety, despair, or inadequacy. Inquiring from the heart without judgment about what your needs are will guide you to care for yourself and others. Find a comfortable space to enjoy the meditation and tools offered in this podcast to bring greater awareness to those places you often avoid. 

When we remain unaware of feelings that are challenging, these emotions hold us in old patterns. Learn how to quiet the mind and ask questions that serve your life. This meditation will help guide you to appreciate the importance of having this simple awareness of your needs, and how to transform it into a practice. See what is hard and respond in a way that makes even the smallest of steps in the direction of being more fulfilled, peaceful, and inspired. By understanding the paradox of being more aware of what is difficult, and practicing awareness and self-care, we can learn to navigate our emotions with greater benefit, ease, and compassion.

Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Guided Meditation Video (YouTube)
Robert’s Book, “Awareness that Heals”
The Introspective Guides (Free Download)

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Announcer (00:00):

Awareness That Heals, Episode 99.

Announcer (00:04):

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 (00:46):

Thanks again for joining us at Awareness That Heals, where we really focus on bringing our heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. Now, when I just say that, that itself is a miracle for us, not only to identify our life challenges but to really bring our heart or our core best intention to where we suffer, where we’re challenged the most. So, I don’t want you to miss the importance of just that simplicity of awareness of challenges and moving in a direction that’s going to help you be your best self, find the needs that are most beneficial to serve your life. So we start again and again with being aware of what’s most difficult for us and where these difficulties are universal. And by recognizing their universal, hopefully that allows you to see the legitimacy of all your challenging feelings and also critically how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times.

Today we’re going to deepen how we can ask the kind of questions that are from the heart, which is a crucial capacity that will change our life once we go beyond intellectual understanding and develop it as a practice. Now again, that’s crucial to intellectually understand it is not very beneficial. It’s taking it in deeply enough so that when we have a challenging feeling, we have it as a practice, that we’re going to be aware, so deeply that we have a challenging feeling and we wanna move toward our needs. And you’ll be supporting yourself today by doing a guided meditation that gives you a great chance to discover and support what you most need when challenging feelings and situations arise. And it highlights the importance of being aware of what’s difficult for you and deepening your realization that without it you can’t really move in a healing direction with your wisdom.

When you realize you’re having a challenging feeling, you’re being encouraged to say, no matter what you feel or how difficult it is, oh good, I can see the challenge and now I have a chance to evolve because I can see it. I’m also an observer, and that observer gives me the chance to move in a direction toward what’s needed, rather than having a reaction that says, oh shit, not that feeling again, which then takes you away from being able to deal with a challenge. This gives you the best chance to use your awareness to move in a direction that fosters your healing and a sense of greater well-being.

It can’t be stated loudly or clearly or more emphatically than to recognize that this is a major victory. Every time you can observe what you feel when you’re challenged without having any further distancing or judging, almost none of us have been taught how important this is and what an evolutionary step it is to not get paralyzed or go unconscious when we’re challenged. It’s so important that we see that when we identify a challenging feeling, that we recognize the paradox. Cuz if we recognize the paradox that instead of seeing it as shit, we see it as gold, even though we feel it, it doesn’t feel good. But when our awareness can see, this is the key. This is the master key to start with, where we’re challenged to liberate ourselves. Life is utterly empty, if we completely ignore our challenges, cuz then we’re unconscious and yes, we might be able to do certain things, but we’re not going to be able to develop the sweetness in our heart.

We’re not gonna be able to develop intimacy, we’re not gonna be able to develop our character, we’re not gonna be able to grow. Let yourself keep being guided even as you’re hearing words from me, to stay with your awareness of your challenging feeling. So we’re going to be doing, as you know, a guided meditation. And for those of you that have listened to the prior podcast, you know that the focus is on asking questions that are going to be supportive of your heart and that are coming from your heart and your wisdom and not asking questions that are veiled judgements, like, what in the hell’s wrong with you? Why did you do that? Not, I can’t believe you’re doing this again, and hopefully by now you’ve made that distinction intellectually. The whole point of this next guided meditation is to deepen your capacity to drop into questions from your heart and in a certain way to fall in love with these questions. And that reassuring you that you can afford to stay aware of your challenging feelings because you now have ways and questioning from your heart is one of the major ways.

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 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, allow yourself to remember something that sounds obvious but isn’t obvious, that you wanna guide yourself in a direction that is gonna care for you and care for others, and that you have a heart and that you want to activate that heart. And just notice as you hear those words, what it stimulates does it stimulate trust? Does it stimulate judgment or inadequacy? Just notice it. Notice what your reactions are and come back to that intention that you know you wanna live a life that is kinder towards yourself, that is more courageous, that is more patient, that allows you to live a quality of life that is your potential. And whatever doubts arise, just simply ask, is it really a legitimate question that I want to care for myself? Or do I want to care for myself?

Or is it simply just reactions from life where you get lost and you forget? So allow yourself to remember, even though you may have many other feelings that you know somewhere in the depths of your being that you want to care for yourself. And while you’re in the response to that, let yourself ask the question, what is the one challenging emotion either right now or during this time period that is most challenging. And appreciate the fact that you are observing intelligence and that you are being called by it right now for it to be recognized and appreciated? It is asking you to discover what is most difficult so that you can help yourself and recognize that this is utterly paradoxical. Because when you can identify where you feel stuck or where you’re buried, you feel like you’re in quicksand, it gives you the chance to see that you have a need that isn’t met. It also gives you the motivation to deal with an area where a part of you is really struggling. And also to see that if you’re unaware of where you’re challenged, you’re going to be rising above it and it’s still gonna be challenged and you’re not gonna be able to deal with it.

So see if you can appreciate the importance of having this simple awareness. But for many, it’s not easy to stay focused on it, realize that by being aware of it, it doesn’t reinforce it. It gives you the capacity to move toward well-being. It doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be aware of it and just stay fixated on it. But when you find the awareness of it and you also add that crucial element of, of course I want to care for myself, then it becomes obvious that awareness is the beginning of a gold mine. It’s the beginning of building up another part of your heart. It’s so important to recognize this is not masochistic or a futile exercise. The point is to see what’s hard and to respond in a way that is making even the smallest of steps in a direction of being more fulfilled, peaceful, maybe even inspired. So let yourself keep returning to your challenging feeling and also glimpsing your desire to care for yourself and ask wise questions as to how you can care for yourself more deeply and sense the possibilities. And let it be utterly personal, this is you, being you.

Nobody else can do this for you. And you may be discovering anxiety, anger, despair, inadequacy, and only you can know for yourself and only you can choose to guide yourself to be there. Don’t be distracted by the words you’re hearing. Stay interested in your own inner experience and continue to ask, where do I get stuck or restricted? Even if you’ve located it already, it’s helpful to realize, oh, it’s not only that I feel this way, I’m stuck here, I’m restricted here. This is painful. And yes, of course when I’m aware I can see I wanna move towards the needs that could help soothe me or strengthen me or give me what I need. You may have words like, I really wanna guide myself or care for myself. Let yourself ask, what is the specific question that gives me the best chance to help myself given what I’m feeling or the challenge that I’m facing? And ask yourself that question, as I repeat it again, what is the specific question that gives you the best chance to help yourself given what you’re feeling or the challenge that you’re facing? What are the thoughts, qualities, and actions?

That are most helpful? And you may just start with the thoughts. And the thoughts will lead you to ideas of qualities or actions that you can take. This awareness gives you the potential not to just be frozen, but to actively care for yourself and the situation you’re in. Realize, again and again, that these questions will break up the cycle of just being in your challenging emotions and it makes it an alive, dynamic, where forever if you get this, whenever you’re feeling challenged, automatically it sparks the questioner in you that’s coming from the observer that knows you need guidance. You need to ask, what way can I find resources or qualities or actions? And it’s only interested in your well-being. And pay close attention to the tone that you’re asking yourself with. If the tone is gentle or kind or strong or emulates what you need, you know that you’re already well on your way to finding some of the essence of support. And if you see that the tone isn’t, then you want to ask the question again. It’s like finding your music. Finding your rhythm. Inquiring from the heart when you’re not feeling good, is a source of great wisdom itself.

and could also be called contemplation. And contemplation itself, just asking the questions, can be a state of fulfillment even before you get any answers. Because you can enjoy the live intention of wanting to care for yourself by the tone revealing the caring itself. You might ask, how can I feel courage when I’m afraid? How can I find harmlessness when I’m angry? How can I find trust when I’m confused? Being as exacting about the question as much as you can is an evolution within the evolutionary practice itself. So you wanna be as precise as you can with the question without being perfectionistic. You’re just doing your very best to ask the question that’s central to your difficult feeling. And you wanna remind yourself this is not something you just want to do during a meditation. This is a potential lifestyle. You can get wiser for the rest of your life. You can help the world for the rest of your life in whatever small way, it might be a smile at the grocery store, it might be a touch on the shoulder. As you ask this question, let it relate more and more to the present and the near future.

As you do that, it becomes more grounded. If we go away off into the future, none of us can do that. If we go into the past, none of us can change that. So let it relate more and more to the present and the near future. In the present, it can include things like tone of voice, the exact thoughts you’re thinking, your body language, how your eyes look. If it’s in the near future, you’re looking at the next day or two, what actions might I be able to take? What attitude do I wanna bring to this relationship that I’m going to see today? And as you more deeply realize that you get to be contemplative. It’s not that you should be, not a moral standard. It’s a gift you’re giving yourself. It’s natural that some gratitude will arise inside you because you’ve found a direction to care for yourself no matter what state you’re in. It will allow you not to be as afraid because you have this capacity that you’ve been developing to be associated where difficult state, uh, helpful question, and it becomes associated immediately. Why wait. If you remember, you won’t wanna wait.

And recognize I get to ask these questions no matter what’s happening, no matter what I’m feeling. And as you remember this and practice it, notice if you can see that you’ll become more and more liberated and relaxed and trusting and less afraid of whatever’s going to come up emotionally. And see if you can add a little appreciation, cuz you see that you’re going for your own well-being through your sincerity, your honesty, humility, and strength. And end it with a wish. May I carry this with me throughout my life?

So again, look at where this guided meditation has left you. Hopefully, you’ve been able take in a support that allows you to feel encouraged and more able to trust the benefit of staying with your challenging feelings because you know you now have a path to ask questions from your heart and whatever degree you aren’t having faith yet, that you’ll be able to do that, let this be your motivation to deepen your commitment, to find questions from your heart because it’s going to require reminders. I would even encourage you during your day, you might just say, “questions from your heart,” “questions from your heart,” just to remind yourself when you’re in the challenges, automatically. It’s like an instant association response. And I assure you that when you are really locked into being able to ask questions from your heart, how can I care for you? What do you need? The whole point of asking questions from the heart is to guide you to your own heart that’s connected with other people’s heart and to your own wisdom that’s connected to everyone else’s wisdom. Thanks so much for your attention.

Announcer (25:12):

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