Where Does It Hurt?
Sometimes, in spite of a regular mindfulness practice, we can find ourselves feeling out of sorts, grumpy or sad, without really taking the time to explore why we are feeling this way. Days can pass in this vague discomfort so that we just aren't enjoying ourselves anymore. When I feel this way I like to take time for extra practice in order to ask myself, “Where does it hurt?”
Take thirty minutes and bring a gentle curiosity to what you are feeling. If you are “out of sorts” you might ask are you getting enough rest, eating well and exercising? Have you been indulging in too much work, alcohol or media, making you numb? How long has it been since you curled up with a good book or spent half an hour looking at the stars? Do you need some quality time with your dog or cat? Listening to what your wise mind has to say can get you back on track.
When you’re feeling grumpy is it because you are refusing to accept something you cannot change? It could be a personal reality or a global one. Every day we are confronted with so much that is wrong in our world over which we have little or no control. Who wouldn’t feel non-acceptance in a constant barrage of ignorance, greed and hatred coming from world leaders, media figures and fellow citizens of planet earth--not to mention family members, co-workers and neighbors? Still, we cannot erase the realities of our crazy, unjust, violent world. We can only do our small part. Refusing to accept leads us to suffer which helps no one. We can choose to radically accept the moment we are in, even if we are in pain, even when so much wickedness is present in the world. The moment we accept becomes a non-grumpy moment. Try to string together as many non-grumpy moments as you can!
When you ask yourself, “Where does it hurt?” you may find out that you are sad. You can gently inquire into what you feel you have lost. What has caused you to feel disappointed? Is it an old grief or a new one? Do you need to grieve alone or should you talk about your sadness with someone who will listen and comfort you? If grieving alone is in order maybe you need to get out in nature and feel the comfort of the trees, the sky and the birds. Go where you can be alone with your sadness. If you need to talk with someone who will listen, choose someone who will respond to the request, “I just need to talk and for you to listen. I don’t need advice, just understanding.” If you don’t have anyone like this in your life, turn to a journal. Write about your sadness and then provide comforting and validating words for yourself.
Mindfulness practice can be a like a trip to the Good Doctor (you). The doctor says, “what brings you here today?” We recount our problems and the doctor seeks to understand them by listening and asking probing questions. Then the doctor tells us what to do to feel better, advice based on the best knowledge available. Sometimes we may need several visits to get to the bottom of what is going on and commit to the treatment.
If you find yourself out of sorts, grump or sad don’t suffer in silence. Sit down for about thiry extra minutes each day and ask, “where does it hurt?” Then listen to what your wise mind has to say.