When I was meditating last night, an image of a nun from my Catholic elementary school came up out of nowhere. It arose just as my body started feeling physical distress.
[Click the audio below to listen to me read this piece or simply continue on to read the text.]
Some of the nuns at my school cracked the whip. I felt in terror of them. Disobedience never crossed my mind, at least not in my early years. One time, however, I was caught whispering - it seems - with a classmate during morning mass. I don’t remember the transgression. But I remember the humiliation of the punishment - kneeling in the aisle for the remainder of mass - as a visceral impression in my cells.
“Indignity,” cries out my bones, my body, my brain. No wonder she’s suddenly appearing from the darker corners of my mind. This memory needs to be cleansed and released so I can move closer to wholeness, untainted by the past.
So many moments go into making an adult. Each experience adds to the others before, shaping our brains and the way we learn to feel, believe, and respond. Which emotional patterns color your adult life: fear, anger, envy, doubt, or desire to be other than you are? Sometimes, it seems a miracle that we even manage to function in day-to-day life, given the warped messages delivered wittingly or unwittingly by those in charge of the tinier ones.
So much unwinding awaits us if we wish to clear away the wounds and instead, live in clarity and peace. Unless you had the perfect childhood, of course.
I said good-bye to this nun and sent her into the realm of pure love. I don’t think she’s evaporated from my being entirely just yet, but it seems we will gradually and amicably part ways. Perhaps coincidentally, my physical pain began to subside.
In the Silent Spaces, Release the Pain with Love
Silence allows painful memories to arise. In the silence, they can be released with love.
You may not make time for silence if you fear overwhelming sorrow, unendurable agony, or repressed aggression. I understand. Sometimes I resist, feel afraid, or runaway from silence too.
In silence, the secret is to simply allow. Anything might arise in the mind: Good, bad, or neutral. It could be the call of your shopping list, the tug of your work, or the lure of an unexpected memory.
Aversion occurs when we attempt to suppress or push away a thought. With attachment, we long to entertain it for an enduring stay. Believe me, both are trouble brewing only meant to bring you down.
There’s another way. It begins by knowing that whatever arises will pass when it’s lightly observed with awareness.
Rainbow Bubbles Always Pass with Time
Think of these aversive and desirous reactions like rainbow bubbles that magically appear, float about, and eventually pop in their own time. Even if the same bubble pops up again, and again, and again from the floor of your unconscious mind, you’ll see it lose its strength each time as you gently hold your ground in relaxed awareness.
You are not this emotion, this pain, this wound. It’s simply a past experience that no longer exists outside the walls of your own body-mind.
This is the pivotal point! Please, for your own well-being, let it sink in.
In the silent spaces, we can allow distress to surface, be known, and felt. Mysteriously, when we let go of the resistance, our heart splits open with self-compassion for all that we’ve endured. As we begin to release the torment, we might also sense that our transgressor may have felt pain and confusion too.
Allow the Silent Spaces to Heal Your Life
Have courage to permit the silent spaces in your life. Busyness will only exacerbate your patterns, deepening your wounds. Activity is not truly the protection we hope it might be. It puts off the inevitable, the necessary, if you truly wish to heal.
In the silent spaces, you can also come to know your true self - the one that’s beyond the pain, the emotions, and the memories. The one that’s always there, simply aware of whatever unfolds in your mind, your heart, or external circumstances. The one that imbibes each moment, without judgement, just fully present and alive.
In the silent spaces, that’s where healing and wholeness lies.
Do you embrace the silent spaces or avoid them carefully? I treasure your comments and would so love to hear from you.
P. S. Sometimes, it’s best to explore our wounds with professional support. This is not offered as a psychological or medical solution for every case of distress.