Things I Love: “The Courage to Stop Running”

Trauma is the invisible force
that keeps us running, restless,
in pursuit of some intangible goal.
Caught up in some unnecessary activity.
Addiction. Compulsions. Distractions.
Makes us escape into thinking.
Makes the body feel unsafe.
Makes the present moment into an enemy.

If we slow down.
If we stop.
If we rest.
If we simply do nothing.
Then we will have to face … ourselves.
We will have to face buried feelings.
All the shit we were running from.
All the darkness.
The gunk.
The muck.
The loneliness.
The aches and the boredom.
The night and the emptiness.

Trauma says, “Run!”.
Trauma says, “Do Not Stop!”.
Trauma says, “Just keep going!”
Trauma says, “Stopping is unsafe!”

We start by proving to ourselves
that it is safe to rest! Safe to be still.
Safe to do nothing, just for a moment.
Safe to think our thoughts and feel our feelings …
… and not ‘fix’ the moment in any way.

We can begin – one moment at a time –
to digest all the undigested things inside.
Stay with sadness for a moment longer.
Be present with our joy or shame for an instant more.
Breathe into our anxiety instead of running from it.
Become curious about our discomfort
instead of distracting ourselves with unnecessary food,
more thinking,
fantasy and false hope.

We can challenge the core story at the heart of trauma:
That the present moment is unsafe.
That the body is somehow working against us.
That feelings, sensations or thoughts are dangerous.
That stillness and silence equal non-existence and death.
And that we have to ‘do’ something
in order to be worthy,
and loved,
and whole.

It takes courage to stop running.
It takes courage to lean into the storm.
It takes courage to touch the darkness inside
with the infinite light of our curious attention.

It takes courage to break the addiction to futures.
And be present.
And breathe.

And not know.

~ Jeff Foster

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