- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
When I was in high school, I set an intention for myself that I would continue to challenge myself until “I saw through the glass clearly”. I was so taken by Oedipus and Othello, by this idea that we live within a set of beliefs that are very real to us, but not necessarily true.
Tara Brach asks us to consider things in our lives that are “real but not true”. This is in a chapter called “Releasing Negative Self-Beliefs”.
“We speak about losing our minds as if it is a bad thing. I say, lose your mind. Do it purposefully. Find out who you really are beyond your thoughts and beliefs.” — Vironika Tugaleva, in Tara Brach, Radical Compassion
Last week, I introduced the idea of RAIN (which is exquisitely described by Tara Brach in Radical Compassion).
The "N” in RAIN stands for Nurture, and I would say that it is the culmination of what I want us in Underbelly. Be able to nurture and love your entire self so that you can love others — even those you think you can’t.
Tara says: “When we’re convinced we’re selfish, we’re inclined to suspect the same of others. If we hate ourselves for being needy, we may feel repelled or frightened by neediness in others. And if we feel we’re failing, we may look for signs of failure in those we’re close to. Our negative self-beliefs become a powerful lens that shapes our experience of others; we can’t see who’s really there.” — Radical Compassion
Here’s your prompt: “What is wrong with you?”
The task this week is a bit like a snake shedding its skin. Tara quotes Mark Nepo saying it is “the exquisite risk”.
We’re at the “I” of RAIN this week. Investigate. If you feel ready, try this meditation. (taken from Radical Compassion
Get ready for a mediation/contemplation by sitting comfortably, making sure that you have some free, uninterrupted time and space. Make sure you are fed, but not overfed. Drink a bit of water. Take a few deep breaths. Scan your body. Sit quietly and notice how your body feels, from your toes to the top of your head.
Now: Where there is tension in your body, sit with that and consider where your suffering comes from. What do you believe about your suffering?
Bring into your mind “What is wrong with you?”.
What do you believe? That you are a failure? Weird? Undeserving? Too damaged to be loved? You can never trust anyone? Unreliable? Lazy?
Connect fully with a situation that is connected to your self-belief. Visualize the situation as clearly as you can.
Recognize: What are you believing?
Allow: Pause and let the belief and feelings be with you.
Investigate: Ask “Is this really true”? “Am I certain this is true”?
What does it feel like to live with this belief? In your body, what are you feeling? What feelings are strongest? Do you feel fear, shame, anger? Self hatred?
Ask: “How has living with this belief affected my life?” Notice the impact on your relationships, with yourself and other people you love (and those you don’t love)
Attend to your body. Investigate hurts and fears that live under the belief and drive/fuel this belief. Connect to whatever feels mos vulnerable.
Ask: “What do you need most?”
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Nurture: Bring up your wisest, most loving presence. Your most compassionate part. If you feel comfortable, this would be calling on Jesus for Christians.
Place your hand on your heart. Call up whatever you need to feel bathed in light, love, compassion. A grandmother, a pet.
When you are there, witness and feel your vulnerability.
What message do you need? Offer that. Let your vulnerability be bathed in nurturing energy.
If at any point, you felt your body say “No”, feel free to honor that. With compassion, allow yourself to feel safe, that you will never force yourself to do something you are not ready to do. Let yourself feel safe, do not continue the mediation, and consider what small steps you might take to begin to feel safer. Therapy, walks in the woods, whatever steps you might need to take to feel safe.