Wounds are a part of our lives.
Whether we were abandoned at birth, didn’t receive what we needed as a child, a parent died when we were young, or we grew up too quickly caring for an unwell parent, we all have experienced trauma to a greater or lesser degree. Sitting in meditation can be a wonderful way to witness our wounds rising to the surface. Our world is going through a huge transformation at this time, which may well be mirroring our inner lives.
Through my own experience staying present with wounds as they arise, I have come to the conclusion that if I am feeling my wounds, then I am not my wounds. My wounds are present, but they are not me; they are passing through me but they do not define or make me who I am. This realization comes from many hours sitting in meditation practicing self-compassion.
Recently, I felt triggered about the lack of love in our society, and during my meditation a flood of tears came rushing down my cheeks. I knew I had touched a place deep within that needed more healing. I felt the energy of all of us on our own, with our bad decisions on display and feeling less than love for ourselves. When our wounds start to rise to the surface during meditation, how do we deal with it and find the courage to sit with them while not pushing them away? That day, I knew that if I could just slow things down, I might have a chance to love myself and accept that, like everything in life, it would pass, but not until the emotion moves through me and shares what insights and healing it needs to.
Here are five tips that have helped me when I’m experiencing deep wounding that can only be described as beyond painful.
1. Get really clear
that something has been triggered inside and that you’re going to be okay. If possible, wipe your schedule clean for at least a few hours. This is a huge opportunity to harness great love for yourself, and it starts by creating space around what’s happening.
what you’re going through. Be honest with yourself. Whether you are experiencing huge crying or not, this is not the moment to put yourself last, or even second. Healing is something that if we catch it in the moment, it can have everlasting effects on our self-worth. Essentially, we are becoming the kindness we wish to see in the world. Whatever it takes, do it! Get the kids to a playdate, tell your supervisor at work you have a medical issue that you are dealing with (it’s true). Say what you need to say to put yourself at the top of the list. Let your kids, partner, or roommates know that you are going through something and that it’s not about them. Be vulnerable and speak from your heart. Let the ones closest to you know that you just need some time to be. It can make all the difference.
3. Be gentle
with the process. In the end the only thing you may feel you did was to create space in your schedule. Put your attention and faith on the journey, not the destination. In the midst of the storm, remember to keep and take refuge in love and the practices that support your heart—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
4. Drop into your heart
and do what you know brings you closer to your true nature. Is it to be outside, near the ocean, or a walk in your backyard or neighborhood? For some it’s listening to a favorite podcast that brings a calming feeling to your being. Become gentle and quiet so you can remember who you are in the midst of it all. This will ensure a deep level of self-care. This does not mean your mind will automatically become quiet. But if you can sit or lie down in a quiet space to witness your thoughts, it will encourage your mind to become quieter.
Something happens when we sit in meditation. By the body being still, the mind is gently put on notice that it’s not all about us, it’s bigger than that. Our mind is important and so are our kidneys, our liver, and the rest of us that reside in the background and are constantly at work to bring us to balance and well-being.
5. Don’t over analyze
what’s happening. Try to find an activity that drops you into the heart space. That way you can be your own best teacher, guide, and therapist. This is not instead of a good doctor. It’s simply about becoming gentler, accepting and trusting the process. After you’ve taken these steps, getting outside help might be next on your list. Perhaps it’s a massage, spiritual counseling, or a meditation workshop with a focus on compassion.
In the end, no amount of outside help can love and care for us the way we can. Don’t judge or be hard on yourself. As you see these visitors rise into your mind’s eye, say hello to them, acknowledge their presence without giving them a chair to sit in your heart. No matter what you are going through, staying present with difficult emotions and thoughts will ultimately increase your capacity to love and listen, and be your own best friend.
Even though our wounds are not our fault, if we would like to live in a more just, kind, and loving world, taking some responsibility for healing them is important. Just be with yourself so you can process these feelings. If you are aware that you’re on an edge, you’re not (only) on the edge! Be as present as you can with yourself, hold your frightened child, and know you’re safe staying within, bearing witness to your wounded being, your natural self-compassion, and the wisdom of your loving heart.