As I write this, I am experiencing a bad cold: sinus congestion, copious sneezing, sore throat, and an achy feeling running through my body. In practicing being with it, as it is, my sneezing subsides, and I am aware of the achiness from a non -judgmental, non resisting place. Interestingly enough, from this place, the ache doesn’t seem “bad. ” Yes, it has a certain intensity, but the achy feeling has no hard edge produced by resistance to it. I could say from this vantage point I am not suffering - meaning I’m not adding any judgment or resistance to the normal experience of having a cold.
When we are experiencing something painful, it is so common for us to complain, judge the experience as bad and to resist experiencing it by tensing up our body and trying to distract ourselves. Some of this is innocent enough: we watch TV, we listen to music, etc. so as to not be so aware of what we are feeing. And other attempts are more likely to do us harm - when we take heavy doses of pain killers or anti anxiety medications to not feel the pain or anxiety. In the long run, heavy medication and avoidance do not let us befriend our experience just as it is.
I don’t mean that we should be masochists and not take medication when it is too much to bear. It’s learning to befriend our pain when it comes to us as it inevitably will as long as we have a body. It’s learning to tolerate the shaky, vulnerable feeling of being present with our experience in the moment, just as it is. If we are control freaks in some way, this is what we strive at all costs to avoid. So letting go means letting be – it’s as simple as that. Simple but not necessarily easy!