This morning I wrote a letter to a friend who is experiencing deep emotional anguish. I thought it might also be helpful to you. Namaste, Cheryl

Dearest Friend,

I’ve been thinking of you since your sharing/check-in at during our healing-training yesterday and I wanted to reach out. I said that hearing your story was “exciting” to me and I wanted to explain and clarify that I wasn’t being cavalier or “making light” of your experience.

I know well about being trapped in an underworld of pain, unable to find your way out for any significant period of time. After I separated from my first husband, my little family was ripped apart — by my doing. My two boys blamed me for their feelings of loss and separation.

Pain, doubt, anguish, shame, and a sense of being lost was my landscape for what felt like an eternity. I remember well waking up each morning with the ugly, heavy feeling of depression an ever-present pit in my gut. I knew that the heavy, horrible feeling would be with me every step of that day. It sucked the color/joy out of everything I did, even things like reading to my children, which was something that I dearly loved to do.

Then one day I woke up and the ugly feeling wasn’t there right at first. There were a few minutes before it took up residence again. And then there was the day when I was free of the suffering for an hour, and then two, and then most of one day.

I found my way out of the underworld with the help of Pema Chodron and the practice of Tonglen, and Byron Katie and “The Work.” Pema and Katie were the “ life-line teachers” who offered me new practices and insights that helped me find the path that took me back into the light and out of the underworld of my suffering. They showed me, in very practical terms, how to work with my thoughts, which were fueling the all the intensely painful emotions that were activating my pain-body.

This morning I offer these teachers and these practices to you. I don’t know if they will resonate, or if you will be interested in exploring the practices, and that’s OK.

I do want you to know I see you and that I care deeply.

Love Cheryl

Tonglen: a meditation practice for releasing pain and suffering

Below is a link to Buddhist Teacher, Pema Chodron, offering a 7 min teaching on Tonglen,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8g43AUeL2Y

Below is a link to Pema Chodron offering a beautifully 30 min teaching on Tonglen, starting with accessing the “soft spot” of the Bodhicitta. A Bodhicitta is someone who is on the path of enlightenment to be free of suffering and does this work for the benefit of all beings. After the teaching, Pema guides you through a Tonglen Meditation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNTpmlmRHWY

The Work by Byron Katie

This is the #1 most helpful way I have found to work with circular, intensely painful thoughts and stories about myself and other people. The Work has been a life saver for me when I have been trapped in stories that were destroying my life by preventing me from accessing peace, joy or acceptance.

Despair and Intense Emotional Pain:

Here is video of Byron Katie talking with someone who is experiencing deep despair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHRc-0ssiF0

What is “The Work” and How to Do It

Here is a link with Byron Katie describing the very basics of The Work and step-by-step how to do it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIuCvUJWMfM

*** If you chose to try this process for yourself it is ESSENTIAL that you complete a worksheet and that you HANDWRITE the worksheet. Don’t write it on the computer, and especially don’t just “do it in your head.” Different parts of your brain are accessed when you write by hand.  Also when you are done with a worksheet it can be very satisfying to tear it up and throw it away. In that way you are physically letting go of something that no longer serves you.

Are you Enough?

Here is video of Byron Katie working with a woman who is struggling with anxiety and the thought “I’m not good enough”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh23gmYfySM