You Don’t Have to Get Rid of Your Discomfort

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Since the election many people have reported feeling edgy, very unsettled and uncomfortable and the feelings are not going away. Most of us have been taught since childhood that these are not good feelings and we should try and get rid of them. Even as meditation practitioners, we may feel that this discomfort is something to “meditate away.” But that’s not a skillful outlook.

It’s ok to feel uncomfortable right now, it’s a completely appropriate response that doesn’t need to be assuaged or mitigated. The problem comes when we are at odds with it, when we feel we are “wrong” in some way for these feelings or if we act out in harmful ways to ourselves or others because we don’t know what to do.

Since the election, I have felt acutely uneasy for over a week. I had to avoid the mindset that I should be at peace and at ease. Growing up I experienced a significant amount of trauma and it stayed with me many years into adulthood. My father was an alcoholic and when he drank he was often violent and engaged in bullying, sexual abuse. and body shaming. After the election this trauma reemerged. But having spent years in therapy and with a meditation practice, I have the capacity to recognize and meet old trauma so that it doesn’t engulf me. I spent time with this response until it eased. Some may not have this capacity and discerning that is important. If you are continuing to feel traumatic discomfort, you may need to get help.

The discomfort I feel now is not traumatic but it brings me to an edge where I need to be awake to it, to continue cultivating my willingness to be present in the midst of it and not tell myself I should change the feelings in some way, or that there is something wrong with me. This is all about changing my relationship to what’s arising, not getting rid of it. This discomfort keeps me from feeling complacent; it keeps me awake. It is an edge that I have come to welcome and trust. When I have a welcoming relationship to the discomfort, I am in a better position to discern wise and compassionate action that is in alignment with my values.

I invite you to welcome your discomfort and let it be a teacher to you.

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