Jeff Foster     8 posts


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SHAKING OUT THE PAIN

I was speaking with a woman who’d had terrible and constant pain in her neck and shoulders for most of her life.
She had been to every doctor; taken every pill;
visited every spiritual teacher; tried every method,
every practice, every mantra.
Everything had only provided temporary relief.

“Why is the pain still here?
After all I’ve done, with all I know . . .”

I’ve heard this kind of thing from so many people all over the world. We’ve tried everything, been to every healer,
had every kind of spiritual insight and experience,
and yet we are not “over” our pain.
It’s “still here.” We can end up feeling so disappointed.
Like we are failures, far from healing.
Like we are “doing something wrong.”

But healing is never far away.
I invited the woman to allow herself to feel the discomfort in her neck and shoulders more deeply.
To be present with the raw sensations there,
moment by moment.
To breathe into them, through them, around them.
To give them space, room to live.
To be curious, to bring them a loving, gentle,
receptive, nonresistant attention.

To allow them to intensify if they wanted to.
To allow them to move, to break up, to flutter, to pulsate,
to burn, to spread. But to stay close, to stay present;
to allow, to trust, to breathe.

Suddenly a great terror welled up in her body.
An old fear of becoming overwhelmed,
of dying, of going mad, of breaking apart.

“Allow. Trust. Breathe into this too,”

I reminded her. Her entire body started to shake, convulse.

“Breathe. Trust. I’m here with you . . .”

The convulsions went on for a couple of minutes.
I stayed close.

Then the shaking stopped as quickly as it had begun.
She opened her eyes. She started to laugh, to cry with relief. “Wow,” she said. “Just . . . wow.”

There were no words.

The pain in her neck and shoulders was gone.
Her whole body felt rested, relaxed, grounded, warm.

She was welling up with love and gratitude.

Instead of trying to “heal” or “get rid of” her pain
(she had tried so hard over the years!),
she finally was able to meet it instead,
make a home for it, allow it,
without even the subtle expectation that it would “go away.”

Her pain had become bound up with emotion
—fear, rage, and underneath, great sorrow, even despair.

These emotions had been held tightly in her body
since she was a little one, when it wasn’t safe to allow herself to feel what she felt.

So energy had got stuck in her shoulders.

Feeling into the “pain” was the invitation
for these old energies to finally begin to move in her.

Her body was literally shaking out old bound-up energy,
in the safety of the present moment,
in the safety of our relational field.

She was learning to trust herself again.
Trust her body.
Trust the power of Presence.
Trust someone else to stay close with her
in the fire of her experience.

Even trust the pain itself,
see the intelligence in it.

In a space of loving attention,
she was able to begin to bear the unbearable,
so the unbearable was not unbearable any longer.

This is how healing happens
—through love,
through presence,
through the courage
to come closer.

-

Robert Q shared a Jeff Foster quote         SHARE URL

Jeff Foster

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Heaven is this moment.
Hell is the burning desire
for this moment to be different.
It’s that simple.

Andrey K shared a Jeff Foster quote         SHARE URL

Jeff Foster

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Breaking out of the known can be terrifying, and you may lose what you thought was yours, and your trusted images of yourself may melt in the fire of newness, and you may face fear and trembling, uncertainty and doubt, rejection and even ridicule. You may have to learn the hard way to open yourself up to more pain and life may become more uncomfortable than ever... that is, until you fall in love with the deep comfort of insecurity, and the security of living a life worth living

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Friend, even if you cannot picture your future, do not despair.
All dreams of the future are already in the past.
Your true future is already taking care of itself.
The present moment is your home, never coming, never going.
It can be trusted, so breathe it in.

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When we stop distracting ourselves, and courageously dive into the heart of any feeling, positive or negative, right or wrong, we rediscover the vast ocean of who we are. Every feeling is made of unspeakable intelligence.

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There is nothing wrong. Sadness is not wrong. Fear is not wrong. Confusion is not wrong. Our pain is not wrong. Resisting our pain is what makes everything seem wrong. And yet here is a deeper truth, for those who are open: even our resistance of pain is not wrong. If that’s what’s happening, it cannot be wrong. It is a valid expression of life in the moment. Beyond ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. This love even embraces resistance. This Now is vast, and forgiving. Yet even ‘resistance’ is just another concept. Another judgement. Another way to make ourselves wrong. “Resistance bad. Acceptance good.” That’s what we learn. It’s not that we “resist” our pain. We just never learned how to be with it. How to sit with it. Stay with it. Have a cup of tea with it. See it as a beloved friend, at home in the vastness. Our ignorance is our innocence. We just never learned. Our pain is not wrong. It is an invitation. An ancient teaching. Universal. Free. Life invites us to come closer… Falling through imagined layers… Into great mystery…

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My greatest spiritual guru has always been discomfort. Just sitting with pain or discomfort, without trying to escape in any way, without expectation, without a goal in mind, without seeking anything - that's the juicy place, the place of creative transformation, the place where mud turns to gold. For many years, I would just sit with grief, frustration, anger, fear, pain, just resting in that bubbling, burning mess for hours and hours, without trying to escape or fix my experience, without hope, without a dream... until peace was discovered even in the midst of that storm, the unshakeable, non-conceptual, ever-present peace that I am, and have always been. Instead of trying to escape discomfort, we let discomfort reveal its deeper secrets.

We sit with discomfort and watch all boundaries between 'me' and 'discomfort' melt away, until it is no longer 'me sitting with my discomfort' at all, and never was. We sit with frustration in the place where it has not yet coagulated into 'I am frustrated'. We sit with fear prior to the resurrection of the image 'I am the one who is afraid'. We sit with anger before the birth of our identity as 'the angry one'. We know ourselves as the vast open space, the boundless and identity-less ocean that welcomes all of these waves as its beloved children, returned home at last, home at last.

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I was talking to a friend who mentioned that she often felt worthless, a failure, a waste of space. I pointed her to a place where she could finally see that there was infinite worth in feeling worthless, that even worthlessness had a rightful place in her, that as a child of consciousness, as a wave in the ocean of life, it was worth something, and that she was vast enough to contain ALL waves - worthiness, worthlessness, and the rest.

Why should she limit herself to just feeling one thing all the time? Why should she be 'the worthy one' and nothing else? Was she really so contained, so small, so bounded, so limited? Was she not, in fact, the wide open space of consciousness itself, the no-thing that holds everything, making space for all of life?

Worthlessness was her guru, waking her up from her trance of worth, shattering her limited, one-sided image of herself, enlightening her to the true indefinable vastness that she was. The true worth she had always sought was actually hidden there at the very heart of her most intense feelings of worthlessness. They just needed to be faced, met, embraced, that's all. They were simply lost children, looking for a home in her, having been denied entry time and time again up until now.

Standing in the midst of worthlessness, we discovered that we were truly worthy of it. Our feelings of unworthiness have so much worth, and there we truly meet, in intimacy. How ingenious that worth would hide inside worthlessness - the last place we'd ever think to look. This play of apparent opposites is stunning.

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