When I think of the 4th of July, our country’s independence day, I think of the words freedom and liberation. Having young children encourages me to have a family dialogue about historical events as well as past and modern day perspectives. My husband has been the one who has nudged me to contemplate the concept of liberation related to human consciousness this time of year as he uses this as a theme in his yoga classes the week before the firewokrs.
Next to me at the morning parade on Saturday was a woman who served to deepen my awareness of human consciousness and how many of us avoid the pains and struggles that are necessary for us to become personally liberated. She kept picking up the endless candy being doled out by the participants and handing it our kids. Despite the fact that we had a laid down the law with our children before the parade that they could only have a few pieces, she quietly would hand them the candy every few minutes. It was hard not to notice this woman was exceptionally thin. As the parade went on she began to engage me in conversation disclosing that she had been to the ER the night before. As our conversation progressed she went on to tell me that she had had at least 11 surgeries the past few years, all systematically related to her original gastrointestinal bypass surgery. Currently she was having complications from her experimental surgery two weeks ago. What struck me as tragic is that she had the initial surgery because she was attempting to lose weight. She was now extremely underweight, but at what cost? This woman looked to be in her 50’s but I suspect does not have a long life ahead of her. With her first surgery she, like many of us, was attempting to bypass the intense work that she needed to do to reach optimum physical and mental health.
If you really look around, our country is constantly offering quick fixes. It is a billion dollar industry. Drink this, eat this, take this, do this and you will be………..happy, rich, content, pain free and young forever. The majority of us are trying to bypass the inevitable. That life is hard! It’s really fucking hard. It’s fucking painful. And damn it can really hurt! But you know what makes it worse…..AVOIDANCE. Avoiding prolongs the pain. It makes it worse. It turns us to addictions, to unhealthy habits and if we avoid too long…numbness. Which then can lead to depression, self-injury and suicide. I have had clients in their 60’s who have never done personal growth work and I am hear to tell you, if you avoid, it gets worse as you age. Psychotropic medication can take the edge off (and is incredibly useful with significant mental illness), but it won’t heal you. You have to do the work if you want to truly taste the beauty that life has to offer. If you want to taste what it feels like to be truly liberated from your own suffering.
So what do I mean by the “work?” It’s moving into, rather than avoiding the uncomfortable emotions that are leading to your own personal pain. Overusing anything is an attempt to avoid the emotional discomfort you are carrying around. It’s about allowing yourself to feel. Acknowledging your uncomfortable feelings. Giving yourself loving permission to be an emotional mess. Giving space to what is. No one dies from allowing themselves to feel, rather the dramatic and tragic consequences often stem from the rigid avoidance of what makes us human, our emotional selves. So I encourage all of you to claim your birthright to feel. To lovingly be with yourselves, your children, your partners, your family, your friends, your co-workers. To listen and not judge or try to fix. To just be. Be the change.