Vulnerability Part II: A Recent Lesson in Allowing Ourselves to be Vulnerable Through Cultivating Co
I should start by saying that this is a continuation of a previous blog about the difficulty in allowing ourselves to be vulnearble in a way that leads to deeper connection and meaning in our lives. While the last blog on vulnerability focused on the barriers and the empowering nature of vulnerability, this blog briefly looks at one tool that may support us as we lean into our vulnerability.
So how do we do it? How do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable? It’s really about opening ourselves up to all of our humanity. Not only the joy and the easy stuff but the hard parts where we fear experiencing loss, judgement, anger...
In a recent meditation course with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield (Power of Awareness), I was reminded that consciously or not, we so often work to avoid experiencing these harder emotions as if life is suppose to be blissfully easy. This was especially clear as they invited participants to examine a piece of themselves that they hide. I invite you to try it out yourself.
Think of a time when you have hidden a part of yourself. Pick something small (not a major trauma). It could be as simple as holding back in a conversation or not setting a boundary you wanted to. Sit for a moment and gently ask yourself “what am I avoiding when I hide this part of myself? When I hold back?” Is it fear of judgement... being different… not being loved… fear of being wrong… of being disposable….?
These are hard emotions to sit with -to experience-but they are part of what it means to be human. And so what I have learned is that we need to sit with whatever emotions arise at the thought of this risky business of sharing hidden parts of ourselves. And we need to hold these emotions with the sort of compassion that we so often hold for others -understanding that these emotions too are a beautiful part of our humanity.
According to Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield, cultivating awareness and a sense of unconditional love or compassion through meditation gives us the ability to hold difficult emotions when they come. When we work to cultivate this feeling of loving kindness within our bodies, when we make it part of a regular practice, we can call on it as we face hard emotions, creating a safe space within us to experience them in their entirety. With practice we can examine these emotions with compassion and without judgement and work to accept them as part of who we are. And so this ongoing practice becomes a powerful tool for allowing ourselves to compassionately hold our vulnerability, that in turn allows us to really show up in a way that creates deeper connection.
There are endless online resources and guided meditations that can support one in cultivating self-compassion. If you have the money and time you may even consider taking the Power of Awareness course (Honestly it is a extremely practical and effective guide to learning the process of cultivating compassion and awareness). They have a number of free videos to get you started.
Just a few sites related to this topic that might want to check out: