In My Two Hands
I hold my face in my two hands.
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands,
in order to keep my loneliness warm.
Two hands to nourish
Two hands to protect.
Two hands to prevent my soul
from leaving me in anger.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditating with Difficult Feelings
(Breathing in) I know that I am angry (sad, hurt)
(Breathing out)I know this anger is me.
(Breathing in) I know I am strong enough to take care of my anger.
(Breathing out) I know this anger will pass.
This is an exercise in holding our anger/sadness in mindfulness. Usually if we have a painful feeling, we may want to push it away (sometimes with the help of alcohol, drugs, TV, work, etc). But it is more helpful to hold these difficult feelings in mindfulness.
Breathing in and out, we acknowledge the anger. We know that when we are angry, the anger is us. It is not something we can just ignore. Anger tends to occupy us and we know we have to be very careful with the anger or we can do damage to ourselves or others.
Our mindfulness is like a mother holding her crying baby. The mother may not know why the baby is crying. But just the fact of her picking up the baby and holding it with calm and love- already the baby feels some relief and security knowing it is being held in the arms of love.
So we hold our painful feelings, with the arms of love, in the calm of our mindfulness. We don’t try to push the pain away, and we don’t act out of the pain, we don’t rehearse our anger (that boss is a #&*@, I’ll do this, I’ll tell the others this, etc). When such thoughts come up we gently let them go, and return to our meditation and breathing.
Like the sun shining on a bud, our energy of mindfulness penetrates the knot of anger in our heart and mind and transforms it. As the sun enters the bud, it has no choice but to blossom and open. So too, our hearts and minds, tight with hurt and anger, will open and soften as we continue to shine the light of our mindfulness on them.
There are more steps in the process of dealing with painful feelings (See "Peace Treaty below ") But this is a good first step. If we practice just this step it will help relieve our pain.