Over the long period I had in isolation following the end of my marriage and the following head injury I used to hear an inner voice that came from inner guidance saying over and over : ‘what you resist, persists’. It was on my mind reading through some of Russell Harris’s book The Happiness Trap today and also after a fellow blogger recently replied to a comment I left on his blog which dealt with opening up to others and sharing about his young self’s struggle with insecurity.
In AA I was taught to look into myself. Sadly I never got a sponsor and the person I shared with a lot had avoidance issues, that only came to light a long way down the track but I was grateful at one point to be introduced to a form of calm abiding meditation which is a little similar to techniques Harris promotes in his book which involves opening up space to allow difficult feelings and thoughts in while just noticing them without attaching..
A moment ago I read through some writing in the book Calming The Emotional Storm by Sheri Van Dijk where she talks of how this practice can often be very difficult for people with OCD who suffer intrusive thoughts they cannot seem to control. People with OCD thinking tend to judge themselves for their thoughts and much of Sheri’s book concerns learning how not to judge thoughts and feelings as well as other people as good and bad, to quote her:
Remember the more you try to resist something or push it away, the stronger it will get, so with obsessive thoughts the more you try to stop thinking about them, the more you’ll keep thinking them.
Instead she advises as Harris does to just accept that the thought is there without pushing it a way… Harris actually recommends using a process of expansion where by you let a painful sensation or thought expand and give it space which then allows it to rise up fully and dissipate. This he believes is more workable than positive affirmations which often our minds just end up refuting.
Sadly, many of us tend to make value judgments and many of us struggle with unwanted thoughts and feelings.. It is a revelation to think that allowing them these to be and accepting them without attaching too much could help us, but it seems to. I have been using this practice this afternoon and it has borne good fruit. I realise lately how much I have made things harder for myself with struggling against realities and battling with the sensations in my body… trying to fight them only ends up hurting me more, it then makes me crabby and more likely to lash out at someone. There is another way.. which involves opening our heart and mind just to allow the thoughts and feelings in, as we watch them come and go as they are bound to do, for such is the nature of the human mind.