My most revelatory moments seem to come when I’m on a walk. The first time I truly embodied rapture, I was walking down a busy metropolitan street listening to music, and had to look down to see if my feet were still touching the earth. For a moment, I felt perfectly suspended between heaven and earth, and I recall wanting to ululate.
Conversely, my most noticeable experience of value neutrality also occurred when I was on a walk. What differentiated it from the rapture experience was that not only did I experience that feeling of perfect vertical suspension, I also noticed a solid ground in the linear timeline – a perfect contententment with the here and now. In more common parlance, I experience true presence – existing in the intersection between eternity and linear time for just a moment.
We’re sold quite the trip here in Western society, aren’t we? We’re always seeking this thing called happiness, which I’ve written about before. And the way we’ve come to understand it relates to being in a chronic hyperbolic state of being – the more we can stay in the GOOD feelings, the more successful we are at living life.
The problem with this way of thinking lies in the fact that our minds are designed to gravitate towards negative attention bias, and, as such, it’s reallllllllly challenging to ignore the bad. Even knowing this, we believe ourselves to be moral failings because we can’t be happy all the time.
My wish for you, my clients, friends, and loved ones, is that you make space for value neutrality in your being. This doesn’t mean not feeling. It means not judging anything you do feel, and accepting these feelings as they are, in this moment only. It means noticing what you are feeling, attending to it without piling on the extra burden of shame and blame for how you are feeling, and allowing for spontaneous resolution of the experience as a result.
What we resist persists, goes the old adage. And I will add that not noticing the resistance encourages persistence by re-inforcing negative attention bias.
Attending to means sitting with, being present with, keeping company, allowing without need for resolution in this moment. Attending without needing to resolve leaves space for noticing what is really there, what is truly calling for our attention.
What you feel is always legitimate. How you react to what you feel is predicated upon your own value system, and this is what you have control over in any given moment.
Moving out of hyperbolic living and into appropriate assessment of circumstances allows us to be responsive instead of reactive. It also allows us to move into a trusting relationship with our own beings, and reminds us that we can access the resources required to keep ourselves safe and well.
True presence, also known as equanimity, is free of judgement about this moment even while this moment is full and bursting with feeling. It’s the both/and, and it may be more accessible than you realize.