Tips for Everyday Mindfulness #11: Don’t figure it out

our meditation space...wait, what's that on the pillow?!

(I was editing this post to share this with colleagues at work in a program I am facilitating for eight weeks, and I want to share it with all of you, too. Enjoy!…again!)

I found myself bothered by something the other day. I was frustrated with Brian and my son, though they weren’t “the problem.” When I had some alone time I immediately went into “figure it out” mode. You may be familiar with this mode – the one where you dissect and try with all your brain power to figure out what in the heck is going on, where the reaction came from, and the infamous “WHY” question – “why do I get so bothered by this?” The mode where you SEARCH for information and answers, thinking that will solve the problem.

Then I caught myself. What I tell clients at least a bagillion times came to me: “Information informs, it doesn’t heal.”

In Buddhist meditation and psychotherapy, and in many healing traditions, we don’t believe that ultimate healing comes for analyzing it, figuring it out, finding THE answer, THE cause. It may lead to some great information, enabling us to “wrap our heads around it” but it only goes so far.

Information informs. It doesn’t heal – the heart, emotions, nervous system, or relationships.

I have had many experiences where I know fully well what caused me to get angry, frustrated, or annoyed, and yet I still get hijacked by my emotions. I still go riiiiight into my familiar habitual way of reacting.

Why? Because I’m stuck.

Just like a gerbil on its wheel going around and around again getting nowhere. I haven’t healed from some event that is now lodge in the very cells of me. My body, thoughts, emotions and nervous system are frozen, still holding the experience.

Do you know this feeling?!

Instead of “figuring out THAT cause” or asking “WHY, WHY, WHY???” what can we do?

What brings a resolution to the emotional charge when presented with a stimulus that triggers the heck out of you?

Well, I can only speak from my own depth of heart and my experiences with accompanying others.

We can pause and breathe. With two little kiddos on me, in the middle of making breakfast and getting everyone ready for the day, I can’t go running up to my actual meditation cushion. Can you relate?

But we can go to the “meditation cushion in our hearts.”

We can put our hand on our hearts, breathe and hold whatever is rising up within us with compassion and spaciousness.

We can actually invite in the anger or frustration (and the emotions, thoughts, and memories that lie beneath that surface emotion) rather than pushing it away, analyzing it or judging it.

We can be gentle, give it breath, and bring it out into the light.

We can say, “Ahhh, there are you, dear one, I see you while we notice the sensations in our body that arise within us.

We can watch the emotions, thoughts, memories, and old beliefs, rise and intensify, and then fall…all. On. Their. Own. Watching and inviting instead of getting swept up in or hijacked by the emotion.

We can be curious with gentleness and not send out a search party into our hearts with the glaring lights of “Why do I DO this?! What IS this?!” Then watch it all shift and be released. Maybe we cry, sweat, or tingle. But we can know now that is the nervous system releasing, thawing out.

I used to say, “Oh but this is soooo haaaard!” But really, it’s so simple. We have the “tools” with us wherever we go — our breathe and our heart. Just pause and breathe. Feel it.

I’m done saying it’s so hard.

yep. cherrios!

I am seeing how in my own personal journey and in my work with clients that more and more often, healing comes from doing less and less. No complex treatment plans or coping strategies. No talking about it over and over again and reading a bagillion self-help books. No dissecting, digging into the past, or analyzing it.

I am finding that the times we do very little, great shifts occur.  On their own.  We find ourselves lighter, calmer, and more at peace.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Erin, Bella Bleue
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 17:17:21

    I totally can relate to the “figure it out” mode…It’s a big reason I can’t fall asleep at night! :) Thank God, for meditation and prayer on nights like that! Thanks for your sharing! Erin


  2. barefootlisa
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 20:36:54

    Thanks, sweet friend. Yes, my mind wants to go to analyzying, figuring it out…that’s how we’ve been programmed in this culture. But I’m glad to be seeing how we are moving toward realizing and experiencing the wisdom of the body — just how you posted about today!


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Copyright. 2013. All rights reserved. No portion of any post may be copied without written permission from the author. The advice offered herein does not constitute a substitute for professional psychological treatment, therapy, or other types of professional advice and intervention. The self-help contents are solely the opinion of the blogger and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction and/or diagnosis or treatment of any kind: medical, spiritual, mental, or other. If expert advice or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

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