When I first began my journey to becoming a therapist I sometimes struggled with believing in the work I was doing. I was caught up in a misconception that my job was to take people’s pain away, and obviously, I was not seeing the results I wanted.
That may not be what you would expect (or want) to hear from a therapist. You may be thinking, “I’m in pain, and I just want it to go away.”
My struggle was reflecting common beliefs and norms that we receive from our culture: that pain is something to be avoided. As a result of this notion, we actually inflict much more suffering on ourselves, by running away and trying to escape, than if we just allowed ourselves to feel the difficult feelings.
It was during a Bikram Yoga class that I had my “Aha” moment. I was in a pose that was rather difficult and quite challenging and I heard myself wanting to give up and allow myself to fall out of the pose. Same thing we want to do with difficult feelings, run away, avoid them. But yoga teaches you to invite the discomfort into your practice. Rather than avoid it, breathe into it, become aware of the discomfort, and be present with it.
What is the result of this practice? In yoga, it is Savasana, which is a relaxation pose. Becoming present with your discomfort is rewarded with a genuine sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. This gift is missed if we spend all of our time in a state of running; running away from our pain and discomfort.
You see, our feelings are NOT the problem. It’s what we DO with the feelings that are the problem. Running away from them, avoiding them, hiding from them, escaping them, that is the problem.
If we allow ourselves the opportunity to slow down and invite awareness to our feelings, if we can get to know our feelings, often times they will remain with us for a short period of time, just as the discomfort in a yoga pose, and then they will pass, as everything does, and we are left with the freedom and comfort of relaxation, Savasana.