Monday, January 16, 2012

Not Born Equals With Feelings

What is the one thing:

that precipitates us 
into reacting right away
rather than pause, and respond?

that makes it hard for us to sit 
more than a few minutes 
before leaving our seat?

that causes us to bypass the present
and escape instead, into the future
or memories from the past?

that drives us to anesthetize ourselves
into oblivion, with alcohol, pot,
shopping, work, sex . . . ?

that puts us at odds 
with the person closest to us,
i.e. ourselves?

That one thing is our difficulty in tolerating feelings, particularly difficult of painful ones. We are naturally wired to shy away from physical and emotional pain. And we are addicted to pleasure. 

We are all born with different levels of feelings tolerance. Some of us rush to pain pills, others are more able to stay with unpleasantness of all sorts. I am somewhat in the middle. 

Of course, feeling tolerance can be cultivated. One sitting at a time, we can practice meeting the inevitable suffering that is part of life. Each day a little more. Each second, acknowledging the pain and staying with it enough to witness our resistance to it, relaxing ever so slightly around the tightness . . . before we turn away, and distract ourselves.

Where do you stand on the feelings tolerance continuum? 

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