On not running away in times of difficulty

Building on yesterday’s post about staying with the fears and difficulties that are prompted by relationships and manifest themselves as emotions or feelings in the body. As I have said before, the essence of our practice is learning to stay, and in concrete terms this can mean simply staying with the feeling in the body. Running away – into distractions or compulsive activity, or in a more decisive way such as  starting a new relationship or initiating sudden changes of lifestyle – can take us away from the growth which a crisis often offers. Our sitting practice is the place where we work at learning how to do this. It is where we gradually strengthen our capacity  for faithfulness to our actual daily existence, no matter what arises.

The problem with running away when a relationship becomes difficult is that it’s also turning away from ourselves and our potential breakthroughs. Fleeing the raw, wounded places in ourselves because we don’t think we can handle them is a form of self-rejection and self-abandonment that turns our feeling body into an abandoned, haunted house. The more we flee our shadowy places, the more they fester in the dark, and the more haunted this house becomes. And the more haunted it becomes, the more it terrifies us….. Naturally we want to do everything we can to avoid this place, fix it, or neutralize it, so we’ll never have to experience such pain again……This is a vicious circle that keeps us cut off from and afraid of ourselves.

John Welwood, Intimate Relationship as a Spiritual Crucible.

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