Welcoming the Story of Pain

Welcoming the Story of Pain

I’ve spoken here before about how “what we resist persists“. When we resist seeing or completing an experience, the tail ends cast a shadow over our life. Now sometimes, it’s natural to want to delay processing a very difficult experience. But if we don’t come back to it later, we’ll carry it for the rest of our lives. The solution is to allow those experiences to arise in our attention for resolution. To simply allow the experience to complete or be seen. In Pamela’s Story, I quote Pamela Wilson speaking to this.

This doesn’t mean wading into the mud or reliving the original trauma. It’s just about allowing what is resisted or incomplete to be seen. Often, it will just be a moment of recognition of being seen. Sometimes, it will come over us like a wave of feeling and be gone. But some of our resistance can be held very deeply. We fear the experience and suppress it. That fear can be even greater than what we fear. It’s amazing how much of our energy we can consume just keeping a lid on it. Inversely, how much more energy we have when some of the load is lifted.

In a recent Gangaji newsletter, Barbara Denempont, the Executive Director of her foundation, described an experience on a recent retreat. She wanted to emphasize how there is always the opportunity for a fresh hearing if we are willing to listen.

“Gangaji began the Hidden Treasure retreat with a series of processes that took each one of us through the graveyard of our stories. (I was reminded a bit of the ghost of Christmas past.) The opportunity was to identify any story I was telling, and see through it to the silent core of my being.

What was remarkable was to recognize a dusty old story I was telling—one I didn’t know I was still subtly telling.  It was like a background hum I stopped hearing long ago. Then suddenly, without any forewarning, it came into clear focus and it wasn’t at all pleasant.

“I am hideous,” I noxiously told myself. That was all. No other characters or plotlines. Just, “I am hideous.” (Admittedly, a very short story:)) I honestly didn’t know that this “elephant man” story could still play in my mind, but it had me by the proverbial throat that evening, filling my body with terror and shame.

After thrashing about in my bed for a while, at 3:00 in the morning I put on some warmer clothes and went outside to place my attention on literal space, to the stars above. On the ground were fireflies mirroring the stars. It was undeniably lovely and softening.

In that moment, I asked myself, “Is there space for hideousness?” “Is there space for shame and terror?”
Yes. Yes, there is.
There is room for it all.
End of story.

In that instant, my attention turned away from a random story I was telling to the spaciousness of my being. I was freshly at home, where I always am! Just like the stars and the fireflies. In knowing who I am in truth, there is nothing to fear. No emotion, no thought, no loss can trample the truth of my being. The inherent, ever present peace of the open heart is the true sanctuary. Not that I can avoid pain as a human being, but when it comes, I can be true to the recognition—the heart gracefully, peacefully holds it all in love. For me that is living freely, living consciously.”

It is totally amazing what allowing attention can heal.

Here’s a little poetry by Ameeta Kaul on the same subject.

And a similar discussion around Debbie Ford’s The Shadow Effect


Last Updated on August 8, 2020 by Davidya

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  1. Karin

    Love your emails that remind me to stay the course of awakening… thank you for your BBQ comment as for last year stomach/intestinal issues where now vegan is a must-have, no more coffee, etc. More peace and compassion for self and others is outcome. Beautiful really after massive dark night 😉 There is hope. Finally able to be of service in a larger way more and more each day. Coincidences, synchronicities and miracles. WOW! As grow though, ego attacks occur and I have found the Shadow Effect has helped me tremendously as well as your emails. Love to you..


  2. Davidya

    Hi Karin
    Thanks for the feedback. Always nice to know when people find value.
    Just for clarity – BBQ is a term used by Loch Kelly in his conversation with Adyashanti on the process post waking. It’s his term for the end of the core fear that divides our sense of “inside” and “outside” just prior to the shift into unity. I put it in context here:

    However, i appreciate that some of the purification at other points may certainly be experienced like a BBQ. People sometimes talk about the flames or fire of purification, etc.

    I know a number of people who became more sensitive to food and were obliged to eat more sattvicly. But interestedly, I know others who had been vegetarian and became obliged to eat some meat for grounding, etc. It can be quite unique for each of us.

    Thanks for sharing how life has become better. As the community rises in consciousness, the need for more challenging transitions will tend to become less and less. You can see this in large meditating communities already – most peoples process becomes smoother.

    Remarkably, the process of what might be called “getting better” is somewhat endless. There is no end to how much more fantastic it can be. So the process is more than worth it. 😉


  3. Share L

    There are healing systems, such as Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing that deal with such in a very explicit way. For example, the guide will suggest that the client go just to the edge of the traumatic memory or story, neither diving into it nor pulling away from it. It takes a bit of practice and a skilled guide is wonderful. But healing, even down to every cell, is possible. Maybe this is what is meant by being reborn.

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  5. Davidya

    Well, I would describe the awakening experience where there is a profound shift in who we perceive ourselves to be as what is usually meant by being reborn. Also, Unity has been referred to as being “twice reborn” or “thrice born”.

    But certainly, when we let go of a big hunk of crud, it can seem like a new birth, a new life.

    Yes, there are a number of ways of looking at our stuff without going into it. Sadly, the most common therapies often entail going right into it. That can have the effect of making it stronger.

    I’m not familiar with this approach. I touch on another technique in the post linked above this reply.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

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