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sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dumpster Diving

This past week I have been “dumpster diving” – meaning: I have once again taken a rather deep dive into the messy, stinky feelings and emotions composting just underneath the surface. And the winners are: Anger and Depression… And the award is – Chocolate - lots and lots of chocolate! :)

I am allowing myself to intimately *experience* these old friends this week, chocolate smeared all over my face – just allowing them to be present here without trying to cover them over with a sweet veneer of “spirituality.” No, just a sweet veneer of chocolate! Same difference really. Whether we use chocolate or beliefs, sweets or spirituality to hide behind, or stuff our feelings – they are still there until we are willing to sit with them, to be present to them, to see them, to *allow* them and give these hungry ghosts their voices back. They just want to be heard, recognized and acknowledged. And no amount of spiritual platitudes, or chocolate, will assuage their need to be *felt.* So - I have been into the dumpster – feeling around for what’s there. And there they were – pain, deep sadness, grief and a bit of anxiety - the companions of Anger and Depression.

Somewhere on the “spiritual path” I have gotten the idea that we’re not supposed to feel the so-called “bad” feelings. Instead we are supposed to rise above them and be “spiritual” about it all, or cover them over with gratitude, rather than living *intimately* with the *actuality* of our life experience – which involves feeling. We *believe* the thought that we are somehow not “awake”, not “resting in awareness” or not being “present in the moment” if we are experiencing the more intense feelings. Because we *believe* this, we try to “get rid of” these unseemly, unwanted visitors. Believe me, I’ve tried… It hasn’t worked…

This week I initially tried various things to distract and divert the flow of feeling. I emailed a friend to distract myself and discovered he was basically in the same place, so we offered each other what we could and moved on – not wallowing in each other’s pain. Then “Nannuk” from the North showed up on Weds wanting to play, which I thought was the end of it – but she didn’t offer a way through, and the visitors returned. Then Friday I had a previously scheduled visit with another friend, which I decided to keep. I was not intending to discuss my “visitors”, just intending to be present, in the moment – but it leaked out. These things are sometimes hard to hide. My friend assumed the teacher/counselor role and began offering prescriptive platitudes, not heart presence, trying to guide me to where *he* thought I needed to be. I felt myself retract. I’ve done some process art as well, which was delightful – in the moment creativity. Even time in Stillness. But still – the dive has deepened.

This morning I awoke feeling the same deep sadness again – automatically. There was no thought prior to it, at least not that I was aware of. It was just there, present, waiting for me to arise – like a dog waiting by the bedside wanting to be taken out for a walk… As my husband leaned over the edge of the bed for our morning hugs, he said: “Maybe the day will reveal something…” There was the opening. My heart picked up with a sense of discovery about what the day might reveal. It was like Nannuk had arisen within again – the pioneering spirit, wanting to go on an excursion to see what was out there waiting to be discovered… Wanting to be awake and aware with these visitors, not wallowing in them, I was willing to see what would be revealed – if anything.

So, with a sense of discovery, we headed out to the foothills for some fresh air and time in nature, stopping by a little café on the way back for some tea and, of course, chocolate :). Except for a hawk swooping in the sky, nothing in particular revealed itself. I could still feel the sadness within me like a dense cloud wrapped around my heart. My husband reminded me – the day is not over yet. And so it is. The discovery is not over yet. The dive is not over yet. There are no quick fixes, no magic bullets. Clarity comes and goes. There is, evidently, still some gift waiting to be discovered in the dumpster.

The only thing I have discovered, so far, is something that I’ve really known all along - that being present to these feelings is about giving them space, tending to them like small children, speaking to them softly and gently, allowing them to be who they are - with kindness and compassion. It’s like knowing that they are there, but not needing to *do* anything about them. You just see them, allow them and wait – patiently aware, embracing them. That’s what Presence does, it sees, it waits, it holds, and allows. Being present with these deeper feelings this week has shown me that Presence is really an orientation towards life itself that is accepting, embracing everything that unexpectedly comes to visit – even if they stay a lot longer than you anticipated - and just being okay with them until they’re ready to leave...

Sometimes the only way out is through…


  1. What a wonderful post! A little roadmap for dealing with those difficult emotions that arise. I see you experimenting with approaches and exploring the terrain. What a wonderful approach to any aspect of our life really. Not judging, not pushing away, not wallowing, just being present. Thanks for the bird's eye view!

  2. Such a lovely post, even though a bit melancholy. It suits me and where I find myself right now. I appreciate your wise invitation to sit and allow the feelings to wash through. Not to turn away or run away. But to continue to hold ourselves and all our feelings with compassion. No model that so well. There is a river of sadness running through me and to sit by its side and watch it ebb and flow--and hug myself all the while--is a chocolatey experience in itself. :-) Blessings to you...

  3. Hi Zen ~ Yes, there is a lot of "exploring" here in the underwater caves and caverns... Am trying to hold a sense of discovery about it all. And as you always say so clearly - practicing non-resistance, bowing to what is...

    Hello Jan ~ The post definitely reflects the "melancholy" felt here... This morning I gave it a little bow as it was right there waiting :) I relate to your imagery of the "river of sadness running through" as it does feel like a constant undercurrent in life right now... So I try to listen deeper to what it has to say... Some days better than others :)

  4. I've been in my 'dumpster' lots lately too. Glad to have the company. AND you have won the give-away on my blog! If you could email me with your address I will send my elves off to the post office with your holiday package!

  5. Wow - Kathleen - what a lovely, unexpected surprise to receive your words and your gift! Thank you for stopping by. And I'm glad that what I write resonates... This time of year can be sooo challenging with "expectations" and our images of what the holiday "should" be, as you share in your own blog, that it's hard not to end up in the dumpster! :)

    Heart Smiles to you... Christine


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