Making Peace with What Haunts Us: Day 1

“Allow” by Danna Faulds

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado.  Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel.  Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground.  The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.

As humans, we often attempt to control our feelings – to micromanage our reactions to memories, seasons, songs, and more. Chris Germer and Kristin Neff who developed the idea of mindful self-compassion suggest that two steps are required before we can create space for our ghosts – before we can allow, which will in turn make room for the next steps.

Step One: Soften
We need to release our resistance to the feelings, memories, regrets, uncertainties that visit us. Drawing on Rumi, we need to let the guests that knock at our door in. We can’t come to terms with our ghosts if we slam the door in their faces.

Step Two: Soothe
We need to offer ourselves and our ghosts loving-kindness. We need to embrace that whatever we’re experiencing – any thought, feeling, haunting – is a normal part of being human.

Only after these two steps can we allow – create space for our ghosts – so that we can compassionately move through them or integrate them.

Over the next few days, I invite you to practice softening and soothing. When you are visited by a ghost, first, sit with it. Invite it in. Notice how it feels in your body. Next, practice soothing. Consciously remind yourself that what you are experiencing is a normal part of being human. Things cling to us. It can take years to move through our ghosts. We may have ghosts that come and go over time. And that’s okay. Tell yourself, “What I’m experiencing is a normal part of being human. I offer myself, including my ghosts, kindness and compassion.”

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