As I sat down to work, my physical body was uncomfortable and my mind was annoyed and agitated. Despite spending 90 minutes doing yoga and conditioning work this morning, my body didn’t feel ready to sit still.
I had wanted to get an earlier start today, and now only a few minutes remained before my virtual co-working session with the GoGoDone community was to start.
The stories were spinning their threads in my mind:
I’m not doing enough for my body. I’m not doing enough in my work. Or maybe I’m doing the wrong things. I need to push harder. I need to do more. Nothing is working. All my gains are slipping away. I made poor choices. I need to be more disciplined.
On and on.
I recognized this as the “trance of unworthiness” that Tara Brach speaks about often, but I had no time to linger on this. It was time to log on to Zoom.
Time to push aside whatever is here so I can focus on my work.
That’s what I often do.
Today I chose a different path. Instead of pushing aside what was there so I could focus on my work, I went into what was there.
This is the most important work.
I chose use my first Pomodoro session to explore what was beneath the surface of my physical and mental agitation, using Tara Brach’s RAIN process.
RAIN — Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture — is a tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion when exploring difficult emotions.
I chose a 10-minute guided RAIN meditation, one of many that Tara offers on her website.
The RAIN Meditation
I turn off the video on Zoom to give myself some privacy. I pull my chair away from the table and adjust my seat, grounding through my feet so that my hips can relax. Listening to Tara’s gentle guidance, I come into my breath.
Recognizing what’s here.
I have already recognized my trance of unworthiness; that is what got me here. Now is time to explore further: What’s beneath the trance?
As Tara offers suggestions, I speak each aloud in a soft whisper to myself.
Judgment. Blame. Shame. Annoyed. Anger. Fear.
When I speak the word Fear aloud I feel it my throat tighten. I hear a crackle in my voice.
I have touched something here.
Fear. This is what’s underneath the blame, shame, judgment, and anger.
Do I even need to label what the fear is? Does it matter?
It’s so many things.
Fear I’m not doing enough or the right things to get the results I want for my body and for my work.
Fear that I will miss opportunities. Fear of failure and of success. Fear of rejection and intimacy. Fear of visibility and fear of being invisible.
It doesn’t really matter what the fear is.
I can see how the physical sensations are a form of Resistance. They are a distraction that diverts my attention away from what really needs attention, and an alarm calling me to stop and explore the tenderness that resides underneath, and a form of protection against the possible pain of exploring this tenderness.
Tears fall. I allow them.
Allowing this to be here.
I repeat to myself:
It’s ok. This belongs here.
Even though I can give a dozen reasons why the fear makes sense, I do my best to avoid rationalizing it. I’m not telling myself Of course you feel this; it’s reasonable to feel fear.
I can acknowledge that maybe none of those reasons is the cause of this fear.
This belongs here for no other reason than because it showed up. It belongs here because it’s here.
I allow this to be here.
This belongs here. You belong here.
Where is it in the body?
It is strongest in my throat. I feel my throat closing as I breathe. A weight bearing down on my shoulders as they round forward. A contraction in my chest and belly. A tightness in my hips.
All systems close in to protect the heart.
I allow the tears to fall. I allow this sensation to be here.
I am touching it.
What does this place need?
Tara offers suggestions:
Love. Kindness. Compassion. Embrace. Attention. Acceptance.
Yes to all of these.
I move my hands to my heart and my belly. Holding myself in loving compassion, I repeat to myself,
This belongs here. This belongs here. You belong here. It’s ok, sweetheart.
After the Rain
Notice what has shifted.
Ten minutes did not completely dissolve my fear, but the trance of unworthiness has loosened its grip enough for me to see the wise and loving part of myself who gets buried under the judgment, blame, shame, and anger.
I feel good about my decision to pause for RAIN rather than trying to push through with my work. Often I get caught up in journaling the mind loops of judgment that I feel against myself; this was a healthier choice. This was the important work today.
Tara ends with the Bapuji poem that I love:
Break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.
The effectiveness of what I did matters less than interrupting the pattern of trying to push through the trance.
I made a choice to do something different today. And that alone is a big step.
Even if just for a few minutes, I touched the tender place.
I know that the effectiveness increases with continued practice.
This is not a once and done.
Just like we need sunshine, we also need RAIN.
This is a practice of a lifetime.