Focusing Tip #338: “How can I be Self-in-Presence when I’m sobbing?”

Focusing Tip #338: “How can I be Self-in-Presence when I’m sobbing?”
July 3, 2012 Ann Weiser Cornell

Janet writes:
“These days I find myself not only crying at times, but sobbing. I find it difficult to connect with Self-in-Presence when I’m crying that hard. So far I’ve let myself cry for as long as I need to (2 to 15 minutes). Then I breathe deeply with my hands on my abdomen, saying ‘in’ and ‘out’ with each breath, for another minute unless I can regain some ground.

“My question: what’s a way to connect with Presence in this circumstance?”

Dear Janet,
It sounds like you’re doing really well! You are letting yourself cry for as long as you need to — which sounds like Self-in-Presence to me. Then you are taking yourself through a breathing process that sounds both self-soothing and grounding. You wouldn’t be able to do either of those things if you weren’t Self-in-Presence, I believe.

Sometimes people think that crying or shaking means that we are not Self-in-Presence. I don’t see it that way at all. Being Self-in-Presence is not some kind of totally calm, blissful state. We can be crying, shaking, feeling pain…and still be in the witnessing state of allowing those experiences to be there.

But it sound like you would like some ways to cultivate that witnessing state even more strongly, so let me see what I can offer.

You might want to say to yourself, “I am the space for this sobbing to be as it is.” If you are sobbing too much to speak out loud, you can say this silently.

You might want to say to yourself, “Something in me is really needing to sob right now,” and notice if your attention is drawn to a particular area of your body. If so, let a gentle hand go there…to your belly, for example, or to your heart.

You might want to say to yourself, “I trust this needs to happen for some good reason.”

All of these are ways to consciously take the position of allowing and trusting what is happening in your body’s process, and giving your process compassionate company.

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