Healing does not always look or feel good, pretty or kind. True healing nearly always involves the re-opening of old wounds, the death of illusion, and a courageous confrontation with our pain.
One of the most dangerous myths we have inherited is that healing is supposed to ‘feel good’. No, not always. Sometimes our discomfort actually intensifies as the darkness emerges into the light, as unconscious material makes its way into awareness, as our old illusions burn up. Pain is not wrong, a mistake, or a sign that we are doomed. Pain may actually indicate that our healing process is intensifying, not stalling; that we are actually more awake and sensitive than ever, more deeply connected with the here and now, less willing to turn away.
There is such a tendency in our culture to avoid discomfort of any kind, distract ourselves from it, label it as ‘wrong’ or ‘negative’ or even ‘unspiritual’, meditate or medicate it away. Much of our Western medicine is geared towards the removal of symptoms, the silencing of disruption, the numbing of chaos and the journey towards some socially acceptable ‘normality’.
What is ‘normal’?
But sometimes, friends, we no longer have any interest in ‘returning to normal’! The ‘normal’ was the problem, not the solution! The status quo needed to shift. It was unstable and false. Old dreams were keeping us trapped.
Sometimes our ‘normality’ needs to break open into chaos and crisis, our pain and sorrow, frustration, exhaustion and doubts needs to be felt more fully than ever before, the heart needs to break open more completely. Our pain is not a punishment from a judgmental god, nor a mistake in a broken universe, nor evidence of our failure and unenlightened ignorance, but a profoundly alive spiritual teaching.
Our pain is not a punishment from a judgmental god, nor a mistake in a broken universe, nor evidence of our failure and unenlightened ignorance, but a profoundly alive spiritual teaching.
Witness Jesus on the cross. The device of his torture became his ultimate invitation to healing – the rediscovery of his own unbreakable Presence prior to his human incarnation, prior to time itself.
Consider the possibility that within your suffering you are being given an invitation: to let go, to wake up from the dream of normality, to embrace life in all its brokenness and wonder. To fall in love with where you are. To come out of the story of past and future, and turn towards the present moment, the place where you stand.
Let the winds blow, let the tempests rage, let all that is false be purified, let all that is dead remain dead, let life explode where you are. You are only being invited to a deeper healing, even though it feels like pain, even though the heart is tender and raw, even though you cannot yet feel your tomorrows.
– Jeff Foster
For more from Jeff Foster, EkhartYoga members can follow his series of talks in his programme: Falling in love with where you are