12-31-17 Invite It All

Invite It All

Our habit of being a fair weather friend to ourselves—of pushing away or ignoring whatever  darkness we can—is deeply entrenched. But just as a relationship with a good friend is marked by understanding and compassion, we can learn to bring, invite, these same qualities to our own inner life.

Pema Chödron says that through spiritual practice, “We are learning to make friends with ourselves, our life, at the most profound level possible.” Or to put it another way, “We befriend ourselves when, rather than resisting our experience, we open our hearts and willingly invite ourselves to tea.”  –Tara Brach

An addiction brings a lot of aggression, denial and fear. When we stop feeding our addiction, we begin to experience honest emotions. We are not sure how to deal with these emotions. They seem like unwelcome intruders in our lives; previously, we kept them at bay by fogging our mind with our addiction. Many people are unable to handle feeling their feelings and instead revert to their addiction. We are shown by others through their stories, their guiding hands and compassion, that it is possible to work through our initial discomfort with emotions and to begin growing and feeling good about ourselves.   To invite the joy of life in, not try to force it to make an appearance.

“Acceptance is the answer” is heard often. We can have a difficulty accepting that we have an addiction, that there is something we cannot control, or that something is controlling us. Quite a blow to our egos.  A necessary blow—we do not control the world, even if we desperately want to.  We, like everyone else, are only a part of the world, though we can and do have an effect on it. We begin to have a glimmering that we are capable of growing and actually appreciating life, not fighting with it.

HOW? With Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness. I am willing to be open-minded and honest about myself. Not easy to do when I am so used to hiding so much. But progress is attained slowly, and promotes further progress. We begin walking a bit taller, looking at ourselves in the mirror with honesty and compassion, and being able to look others in the eye.

First, we accept who we are—all parts of us, good, bad, and indifferent. We can then begin to make real headway by inviting into our lives the positive, healthy aspects that we all have:  loving-kindness, joy, compassion, equanimity. We will naturally be attracted to such positive qualities as compassion or patience the more often we utilize them. Positive healthy qualities we hold dear and treasure. We do so by using them. They’re not just a good idea for others or something to get to someday.

We also invite in all the seeming negative aspects of ourselves, so there is nothing hiding.  No snipers.  We recognize and befriend our negative qualities—pride, anger, jealousy, ignorance, greed, and         desire—as they arise also.  They are our teachers. They too are part of who we are, part of our human existence.  We do not indulge in them (well, not as much anyway), nor do we pretend they don’t exist.  Denying them will not make them go away; it will only keep them present, actively influencing us in  negative ways.

In my addiction, I was angry a lot.  I acted out in anger without thinking.  I relished and wallowed in    anger, impatience, justifying it with any number of flimsy excuses.  As I began my recovery, I was still angry but beginning to heal.  As I progress, I am still sometimes impatient or angry, but I act out less  often and am able to recognize anger as it arises. I can then be thankful to my anger for showing me where I do not want to go. Then patience and compassion will surface, and when I am humble and   honest enough to invite them in, they will replace the anger. The effect is like putting a soothing, healing salve on a burn.

The same is true for avoidance. When I feel it arise, I can stop, recognize it for the fear it is and choose to be a little bit braver and to not avoid living honestly quite as much as I have been. D0 I really want to live a lie?  I can choose to believe in myself, because I am actively working with a whole and complete person.  A complete person doesn’t mean no faults; it means I am working with all of me.  I do not let doubt hang around very long.  I see it as my old behavior of rationalizing not making any progress because I can’t be a Saint by tomorrow.

Meditation will help us to recognize the many different aspects of ourselves that surface during sitting. We are instructed to NOT judge, but rather to observe and accept what is there. We stay open in  meditation, inviting all things to arise. They are all welcome.

As we begin to invite all of who we are into our lives, we are able to begin inviting others into our lives as well. They are no more perfect than we are, but we treasure and hold them dear also. We are demonstrating kindness and patience for ourselves and for others, as a healing tonic for ourselves and as an example for others.

Then, when we indulge in anger, impatience, or avoidance, and are not a good example for others, we recognize we are fallible and human. We may smile a bit and keep on keepin’ on, with the awareness that we now know more, and will aspire to do better next time.  And we will.

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.  A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes  as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! …The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” Rumi

We begin finding joy in our lives, and bringing joy to others. That’s what it’s all about.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.                                                                             The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.                                                            The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.                                   Heart Of Recovery web site  —  fcheartofrecovery.com