It's a basic, natural biological reflex to turn away from the unpleasant and towards the pleasant. Even the simplest single-cell organisms do this. Humans are also programmed to automatically behave the same way, but some or most of us learn to override this programming. Although throwing toys all over the place is more fun than picking them up & putting them away, (most of us) gradually prioritize tidiness; although playing is more fun than going to school, (most of us) gradually prioritize an education; although chilling in a Lazy-Boy feels good, (some of us) prioritize physical fitness, realizing that we get far more enjoyment from rest after vigorous exercise.
A mantra of social work is, 'lean into difficulties.' A mindfulness mantra, for similar reasons, is 'be curious' (rather than negatively judgmental). These relate to some challenging matters we habitually judge negatively & thus avoid - an understandable reflex. However, routinely avoiding some challenges actually has negative consequences, & can even interrupt maturation / spiritual growth.
We touched on this on the previous blog, how we tend to get caught up in our internal conversation (self-talk / negative judgment / rationalizing avoidance), thus missing out on experiencing the depth of the challenge we're facing here & now.
"... in the willingness to experience that without the narrative about that; without good or bad judgment; just to for a moment be absolutely, completely irritated (intentionally FULLY BE WITH the PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE). And without a narrative, irritation can’t last (EVERYTHING - even acute pain - CHANGES). But it can reveal something deeper – maybe it’s true anger, maybe fear, maybe bliss, and finally, maybe, this radiant, unspeakable, indefinable presence of your own being.” Gangaji : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSVtlpsN58k
Angelo DiLullo expands on this pivotal point:
“… we live in a society of endless distractions and any of these can be used to avoid discomfort. Well, (if or) when we take up an investigation of our deepest truths***, we are voluntarily putting ourselves in situations that, by nature, make it hard to distract ourselves. As we do this, we will often notice some discomfort. Sometimes it is a mild uneasiness. Other times it might feel more intense. Either way it can be tremendously helpful to simply acknowledge the discomfort. ‘Okay, I am feeling uncomfortable. What is it like? What does it feel like in my body at this moment? Do I have to do something to immediately distract myself like my thoughts or habits suggest, or can I just be with it?’ You might be surprised. What you’ve been running from for years might turn out to be tolerable, even enjoyable after a time.
‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort & convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ Martin Luther King Jr.
Perhaps you can only sit with the discomfort for a few minutes at first, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Over time you will start to recognize that you have an innate capacity to relax into whatever the body is feeling in the moment. With this relaxation, you may notice an alchemical process. The restlessness & discomfort will begin to transform into an experience of presence & wholeness. An intuitive realization might dawn – the discomfort itself was not what was making us distractible, restless, & irritable. These were only side effects of the habitual activity of running from our emotions. With this realization, we start to recognize that there is intelligence in discomfort. It is like a messenger telling you, ‘Look here.’ This will begin to replace the old habit pattern that seems to say, ‘Run away.’ As we experientially recognize our capacity to sit with these processes, a certain spontaneous willingness begins to emerge. We see that by voluntarily opening to the intelligence of these uncomfortable moments, we are simply acknowledging what is already within us. We recognize that to run from these experiences is to run from ourselves. We’ve done that for too long, haven’t we? All that running is what is causing our suffering. This separation from ourselves is what perpetuates that sense of separation from others, and from life itself.
The whole point is for you to awaken to your own deepest truth*** if / when you choose to do so. Your deepest truth is a living truth that could never be contained by a set of beliefs or views. It is far too vast and free and, paradoxically, too intimate and self-obvious to be contained by a belief system or a paradigm.
You will find this to be the adventure of all adventures. If it’s not your priority at this time in life, then by all means, put it aside and pursue what most authentically moves you. ... There is no judgement from me or the Universe. If you genuinely feel that it is your path to be an exceptional parent and raise a family, then that is exactly what you should be doing. If you want to throw yourself fully into art or music, then that is exactly what you should do. If you feel genuinely moved to pursue a life of scientific investigation, then by all means go do that. This is your life, so doing what feels most authentic & relevant to you regardless of social expectation is what will be most fulfilling.
The intuitive part of you is starting to awaken and attune itself to its inherent awake nature. You will start to become more conscious of it functioning in an intuitive & intimate way. You will learn to trust your instincts as they come into alignment with your deepest truths, and your deepest truths will synchronize with the natural flow of life.
… I am not trying to teach you something so much as dial you in experientially to your natural awake frequency.”
Angelo DiLullo MD. “Awake. It’s Your Turn.” 2021. HIGHLY-RECOMMENDED IF serious about Awakening
DiLullo's book can skillfully guide us through & beyond painful paradoxes, so we don't remain stuck :
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat.
The breeze makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song,
in the laugh of the next stranger.
In the very center, under it all,
what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful."