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  • Charlie Nicely

Below the Surface

Updated: Jan 30, 2020


Self-portrait, 2015

Sometimes it just hurts. And think it's ok to feel hurt without knowing exactly why or what we're going to do about it. Without spinning a great big story about the pain or doing our damnedest to cope. It's ok to totally be intimate with it. To feel it rising up from the center of the chest, burning with wild intensity, so close that it appears to be engulfing you.


I'm sometimes surprised to be sitting in meditation and then to suddenly get hit with a massive wave of emotional pain. And that's exactly what happened today.


This is what I've been training for when I sit silently each day. The opportunity to stay with this seemingly ancient pain. To hold it tenderly without abandonment.


It seems to me that one of the reasons we turn away from emotional pain is the fear of consumption—that we believe we aren't able to withstand our own depth of emotion, and so we shut down. We become cynical, untrusting, calculated, guarded, less bold or authentic than we'd like. We hide. We spiral out into blame and shame and fear. We do whatever we can to not feel the tenderness that lies beneath.


I'm writing this from deep inside the trenches of my humanity. From that place of shaky vulnerability where I could so easily stumble into my habitual responses like a drunk stumbling out of a familiar old bar. Or I can stay open, allowing the mystery and vitality of the moment to break through the stale and outworn so to open new portals of possibility.




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