Last week I was away on retreat for the opening weekend of an amazing two year journey for Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification with my teachers Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.
While we were there we did some amazing exercises together in groups with our fellow students, listened to some mind blowing lectures with Jack and Tara and did some pretty intense self work.
In one particular moving meditation exercise I had a juicy breakthrough. Like the big "Ah ha" moments we all hope to experience, when our heart cracks open and we become aware of something within us that has been holding back our growth.
It all started with a harmless question. What is your heart's deepest aspiration. For me this is simple the answer is to touch deep peace in my life. To awaken to a deeper state of awareness so that I might embody and live in this state of peace no matter what comes and goes each day.
As for all of us, there are things along our path, that get in the way of us achieving these deep wishes of our heart and often we are unaware of what is there. Philosopher Joseph Campbell explains it this way...imagine a circle with a line through the middle. Everything we aren't aware of yet is below the line. Ultimately we are trying to use things like #yoga and #meditation to discover what is below the line and bring it up above the line into awareness so that we might use it to fuel growth and transformation. Basically we can't heal, what we don't feel.
So all week long I had buzzing in my heart this aspiration. That ultimately this is why I am here. Peace. Yes I desire to teach others, but ultimately I am embarking on this journey for myself, to continue to do this delicious self work and deepen the light of awareness so that I might deepen presence and peace in my own life. These tools have made the most extraordinary impact on my life over the past 4 years and have shown me that peace is possible.
One afternoon we sat together in meditation, Tara guiding us and she asked us to get in touch with this hearts aspiration, to feel it fill us and to sense into how it was making us feel. Then she poised a provoking question..."what is getting in the way of true wellbeing?" FUCK...immediatly I was flooded with images of the times when I am at my "worst" ...reactive, small minded, judgmental and all of these images and memories had a common theme. I was envision myself entangled in conflict with my daughter Addison.
My role as a Mom is the biggest trigger on my path. I desire to be the embodiment of peace, but every time this darling 8 year old being talks back to me, or doesn't listen, it sends me into a spiral of parental ugliness that I have never been able to tap into why I loose it." There is clearly something below the line that I can't seem to identify.
As the meditation deepened Tara instructed us to recognize what was there and to offer it permission to be there. She encourages us to lean in, sense it in our bodies. As she guided us even further there it was, my mystery below the line culprit that was getting in the way of my truest wellbeing and causing my reactivity with my daughter. I was flooded with the realization in a crystal clear moment of awareness that I was hurt by something that happened with my own Mom 20 years ago. We went through something together 20 years ago and she made some decisions to push me away in reaction to some choices I had made in my own life at the time. We have a lovely relationship today, but we had a rough patch when I was 18 and I had no idea it was in the drivers seat all these years later. I realized her pushing me away hurt deeply and I have never addressed it with her. And here I am 20 years later a Mom myself, getting reactive because my 18 year old self is still hurt.
It was magnificent, this moment of deep awareness, a past hurt brought above the line into awareness. Now the deep work begins I thought..."ooooooo teach me how to heal this Tara" I thought.
And with the simplest guidance she asked me to offer this place Compassion. to hold this 18 year old part of myself in the arms of tenderness, to acknowledge the hurt, allow it to be there, ask this part of me what it needs. Really? I thought...just send compassion inwardly? It was remarkable, the offering of compassion gave me a feeling of lightness and grace. I felt deeply ok. It would be easy to heal this old hurt, to talk with my mom and clear the air. To express that being pushed away hurt me.
It can be scary sometimes to shine the light of awareness on certain aspects of ourself and our past, but that ultimately is the path to liberation. The buddha taught that life has suffering and that suffering always has an end. Through the lessons he passed down of #mindfulness and compassion we are able to heal our suffering and release it.
I am grateful that this old hurt moved up above the line and that my teacher lovingly taught me the way to heal it. To wrap it and myself up in the arms of compassion so that I might take one step closer to my truest heart's aspiration and experience true wellbeing.