There are times in life when we glimpse the joy and lightness of being that come from feeling free of our past. We are no longer carrying it, it doesn’t burden us and we can look back at difficult moments with a distance or understanding that allows us to accept what has happened. Yet there are times, also, when we feel so overwhelmed by current circumstances that it is as if everything that has gone before just keeps repeating in some way and we worry that we’ll never be free.
So how do we cope and deal with what feels like the enormous weight of our past in moments of vulnerability and unhappiness; when it seems as if we cannot escape what has gone before?
These moments are our teachers. We are often told that issues will keep returning in some form or another until we properly deal with them. We learn through different situations and when we have understood a lesson and allowed it to help us develop self love, perspective and a connection to the strength and wellbeing within us, the lesson no longer needs to be repeated and if similar events or circumstances present themselves, we are able to deal with their challenges gracefully and refuse to get involved.
Rather than contracting and becoming brittle, it helps if we soften and allow ourselves to develop a spaciousness within. The reason that sloths survive tree falls is because they stay relaxed as they drop. Relaxed muscles protect bones. The same is true of human physiology. If we take this physical set up and apply it to our emotional and spiritual health we will notice that we are endlessly resilient and well protected and that no matter how great a fall or how hard the impact, if we allow ourselves to stay open and trusting and relaxed, we will find our way to health and wellbeing and hear the guidance and wisdom that come from deep within.
Any time we have the ‘not this again’ feeling we often start to panic. We are bewildered or even desperate to find that we have gotten ourselves into a situation that is replicating in some way experiences and issues we have been through before and believed we were free of. This gives way to thoughts of worry and anxiety and the ego, in a bid to keep us safe, fills us with fear and dread as if these are the feelings that will keep us from finding ourselves here again in the future.
But that route doesn’t work. It only leads to self doubt, painful recriminations, loss of clarity and insight and stress. From here we cannot get enough space in our minds to calmly reflect, consider our next move and decide on helpful actions for ourselves in the moment. What does help is taking a moment to clear our minds in whichever way works for us and looking at the lessons we have already learned from our current situation that may have been obscured from us until now. What state of mind have we been in? What state of mind were we in when the situation began? Have there been moments during the painful period that have filled us with hope for our health and emotional wellbeing? Do we see how strong we are? Do we know, deep down, that the possibility exists for us to break free from repeated suffering?
Opening up means that rather than feeling overwhelmed by depressing feelings, we are expanded by hope and love and peace. We know we can recover. We know we can survive. We know we can thrive and we can recall old unhealthy patterns that we no longer replicate or seek out or attract. There is hope for us. We are capable. Our pain is alerting us to the issues we need to address. We can learn the lessons of self love and acceptance and forgiveness that facilitate deep healing and we can deal with the weight of the past successfully by learning what we need to from it. There are opportunities in dark times for discovering how to live a life that is so much more than we have ever imagined would be possible for us. If we can just soften and relax enough to let faith in and open up to the wisdom and love that reside within us, the weight of the past will diminish and we will be light again, free and able to live in the joy.
Header image: The Four Trees, Claude Monet