How to Lean Into Powerful Emotions Instead of Pushing Them Away
I first landed in Crestone a few years ago, and by the fall of 2015 I had decided I was going to live here. That was a year and a half ago. It was a huge change from the frenetic hustle of Los Angeles, where I had spent a good portion of my life. I was so relieved to be in this gorgeous, quiet little town at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado—an ideal spot for meditation and self-reflection. And I came to be supported by the community here in so many ways. The people in Crestone turned out to be unusually authentic, unusually kind, and in some cases just plain unusual. People used to ask me, "Don't you miss LA?" Without hesitation my answer was always “No.” I was finally complete. (Or at least I thought I was.)
But a few weeks before spring solstice, as I sat in meditation, an unexpected wave of tears flooded through me. A cacophony of images and scenes from my old life was projected onto the screen of my mind, followed by an oppressive sadness… and then grief. Even though I’d been busy creating a wonderful new life, something in my heart and soul hadn't fully assimilated this major transition yet. In that moment, my heart was breaking. And I allowed it to happen.
How long should it take us to integrate such major life changes? Well, it should take as long as it takes. We each have our own rhythm, and we often encounter layer upon layer of letting go before we can fully recalibrate and find lasting peace. It seems to be a circular process… just when we think it’s over, it comes back around again, requiring a deeper measure of acceptance and love. After some time passes, it may show up yet again, but each time in a gentler way. Around and around we go, shedding fear and resistance like the layers of an onion.
Yesterday I was working with a client who was still confronting some challenging emotions around his divorce, a decade after the fact. And last week I sat with a friend who was still feeling guilty over something that happened 30 years ago. When we continue to encounter these periods of heartache, we might think they point to our own inadequacy at some level. But can we see them as little taps on the shoulder, asking for our compassion, patience and understanding?
Perhaps you're confronting a similar challenge in your own life. You may find that as you lean into powerful emotions instead of pushing them away, the process begins to get easier and easier. If your heart was closed, you wouldn't feel anything. Honor yourself for being willing to feel. And trust that if you’re still assimilating events from the past, you’re doing it in the perfect rhythm for this season of your soul.