Healing From The Inside Out

The ambiguity of being human is a fundamental factor of existence. How we approach the ambiguity of life determines the decisions we will make. In my previous post I spoke about how attachment to wanting things to be a certain way is the root of all suffering. When things do not feel good, we have the urge to ‘grasp’ for or ‘push away’ from said feeling. This practice of ‘controlling’ is the urge to find safety and cling to it at all costs.


We are constantly seeking control and the reason for this is that ambiguity is uncomfortable. On the flip side, when things feel good, a moment of excitement or contentment is realized and we tend to grasp for ways to keep it going. Pema Chödrön states that when we seek for the wishing away of pain and the pushing away of discomfort “we turn to anything to relieve the discomfort-food, alcohol, sex, shopping, being critical or unkind.”




A more advantageous choice, when dealing with difficult emotions, involves paying full attention to the place of discomfort. In doing so, we use our breath and channel it towards where the pain resides. Rather than avoiding the hurt, you become present to it while at the same time releasing the painful narrative by focusing breathing into that pain. Avoidance of the pain will not solution anything. To open yourself up to healing, you have to open yourself up to all the thoughts and feelings that make you human. Opening up to the uncomfortable sensation is proactive and allows your body and mind to work together to provide healing.


Whether you are feeling a physical or emotional hurt, the process is the same. All difficult emotions and sensations can be met by opening up yourself to the experience instead of reinforcing the narrative of how and why it occurred. The outcome of this breathing-into-discomfort technique is quite remarkable. When we place our full awareness on the thing that ails us, the hurt becomes about the sensation instead of the history of how it got there.


The pain we suffer is completely theoretical. The way we relate to the pain equals how much the pain has power over us. The manner in which we view the discomfort, dictates how long it will fester. The more we create concepts and stories around our pain, the more we loose sight of our ability to soothe our discomfort through our breath. I often tell my clients when learning mindfulness breathing that the breath should feel like a massage from the inside out, releasing tension and allowing a process for your mind to stop spinning it’s wheels of hurt and to focus on one of the most healing agents we immediately have at our disposal… our breath.

Buddhism teaches that the concept of suffering relates to fixed ideas about how things ‘should’ be. It is normal to expect life to be a certain way. As humans we take comfort in safe and predictable outcomes, yet the world and all its chaos is never predictable and rarely provides expected returns. Expecting life to be a certain way leads to painful reactions of loneliness and anger, not to mention all the other feels. Needless to say, it is hard to stop expecting and it is even harder to start learning how to allow.




Having a fixed identity without the presence of fluidity or an ongoing sense of discovery, provides us with a false sense of ourselves. This false sense of security is perpetuated again and again by insisting to see life through a series of expectations. The reasons we seek certain relationships and scenarios are because those experiences support our ‘expected self.’ Operating from a place of our ‘expected self’ causes more pain and necessary heartache. When we let go of expectations of who we think we are and who other people should be, we start to view those around us as non-enemies; important learning tools that teach us existential lessons about who who we really are.


Many people seek a connection with deity or a spiritual path because they feel the need to be protected from the unpredictability of life. Yet, seeking a higher power or higher forms of consciousness requires an understanding that the unpredictability of life is what allows us to truly see an empowered and authentic being at the center of our core. The only way to strip away expectations is to trust the unfixed nature of our existence. Pema Chödrön likens this aspect of the spiritual path to taking off “the armor” of our identity and letting the ego and all our attachments melt away.


When we enact a pause moment or window of reflection throughout our day with non-judgmental and non-critical lenses, we are able to see how profound and unfixed the world really is. And at the same time, we begin to operate with more awareness of how the unpredictability of life allows us to be in a constant state of evolving and appreciating. The more aware and present we are, the more we are able to enact change. The more we are able to let things go and release ruminating thoughts of worry, we be come more creative and resourceful. Awareness is the lens by which we start to see that all uncertainty is to be embraced, not pushed away. And this ability to tolerate the impermanence of life is the key to being non-reactive and resilient through all moments and encounters.