Conflicting Emotions? Breathe, As A Tree

Reconciling conflicting emotions isn’t always easy.

You know those times when you feel totally overjoyed and ecstatic about something amazing in your life, and also painfully sad with gut-wrenching grief about something or someone else at the same time.

Your entire body feels pulled in two polar opposite directions; the anxiety of the conflict is overwhelming.

Worse, our mind judges and criticizes us for feeling the exuberant rush of joy amid the stabbing pain of loss.

“How can I feel joy at a time like this?” “What will they think?” “How can I feel happy when they’ve lost so much.” “But I want to be happy too!”

The anxiety created by our mind is almost unbearable.

Not so long ago…

I was traveling with our daughter as she transitioned into a new job after graduating from college; the trip was one fun- and sun-filled moment after another.

We flew back high from the experience and joyful for our time together.

On our way home from the airport, my husband shared deeply, devastating news about the death of a dear friend’s beloved husband, who was a much-loved and treasured member of our community.

I felt my chest tighten, my stomach go queasy, and my breathing grow shallow.

The high I was on from our trip melted into a raw, cold sweat of loss and deep sadness.

As my mind wound up, I paused and mindfully quieted the hum of judgemental thoughts, “Breathe.”

I affirmed all that I was feeling, each and every emotion, even the joyful and happy ones.

As the week and events unfolded…

my mindful practice enabled me to stay with my all of my feelings without negating any of them; I inhaled and exhaled all my joy and all my sadness.

This practice allowed me to be present with the important people in my life fully, and with myself.

Mark Nepo in his inspirational The Book of Awakening welcomes us “to rest like a tree.”

Inhale all that you feel, the sad and the joyful, the pain and the happiness, the sorrow and the glee, in harmony.

Be still and rest, as a tree that stands tall with all of life and living.

So the next time you feel a rush of conflicting emotions, quiet your mind; simply breathe, as a tree.

Sending you inspiration,

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