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What Can You Sit With?

April 26, 2015

By Kenetha J. Stanton

Can you sit with pain—your own or another’s?

How long can you just sit with it and hold space for it to be seen?

Are you able to sit with it at all before rushing to numb it, stuff it, explain it away, or turn it into anger (which feels so much less vulnerable)?

Can you look the pain in the eye and just sit with it, holding space with compassion for it to be felt fully so it can pass?

Can you sit with the twisting ache of embarrassment, of shame, of betrayal?

How well are you able to just sit with the vulnerability of those moments when you feel stripped bare for all the world to see?

Can you sit with these things long enough to comfort and soothe your wounded heart within without rushing to defensiveness or revenge or self-wounding attacks?

Can you sit with chaos, both inner and outer?

Are you able to allow the storm to rage without jumping in to try to control it, tame it, and force it to your will?

How well are you able to simply allow the chaos to run its course all around you while you sit quietly waiting for the storm to subside?

Can you sit with silence?

How well can you sit alone with empty space before trying to fill it with sound and entertainment to drown out the noise from your own mind?

Are you able to sit in stillness, in silence, in emptiness long enough to see what will emerge from being with yourself without distraction?

Can you sit with longing?

How well can you sit with the bittersweet taste of the longing itself before rushing out to fill the empty space with something else—something ultimately unsatisfying—just to escape the pang?

Are you able to sit with the longing long enough to find the sweetness that lives within the longing itself?

Can you sit with joy, with excitement, with celebration—your own or another’s?

How much joy and excitement do you allow yourself (or another) before you begin to discount it as unrealistic or as a dangerous emotion that might set you up for a fall?

How well can you celebrate a success (of your own or of another) before allowing comparison and envy to taint the celebration?

Can you sit with anger?

Are you able to explore that anger long enough to discover the message it is trying to tell you?

How well are you able to wait with the anger—without lashing out or suppressing it—to find (and implement) the right course of action to address the situation in a fruitful way?

Can you sit with not knowing?

How long can you sit with what is without creating a story about why it is that way?

Are you able to embrace the reality of how little we can ever really know about why things happen the way they do in life?

What I’m really asking you is: Can you sit with life?

With your life?

With reality as it is?

All of it?

Can you show up fully present to the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the known and the unknown, the sweet and the bitter, the chaos and the mundane, the joy and the pain without hiding from it, drowning it out, stuffing it down, dismissing it, or otherwise denying it?

Because that is what life is. It is ever and always a breathtaking ride through the full gamut of emotions and experiences on any given day, but most of us restrict ourselves to only allowing certain emotions that we have deemed “safe.”

In so doing, we limit the range of living that we allow ourselves to experience. We create a world of grey-toned pseudo-safety out of the amazing buffet of kaleidoscope colors available to us.

The reality is that life is not safe. It is not controllable (much as I’d like it to be). It is both more dangerous and more wonderful than that.

I’m working to open myself more and more to the reality of all that life really is—not what I want it to be—by learning to sit more fully with all that comes.

Will you join me? What can you sit with?

What Can You Sit With originally appeared on Kenetha’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Also by Kenetha:

- Stages of Transformation

- The Stranger in the Mirror

About the author: Kenetha J. Stanton is a kintsugi-inspired artist, writer, and life coach. Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that repairs broken pottery with gold-filled lacquer to create objects that are more beautiful and valuable than they were before they were broken. She applies this as a metaphor to our own lives in which she believes that the healing of the broken places that life gives all of us often becomes the most beautiful and valuable parts of who we are when we embrace that healing as a gift we have to offer to the world around us. Her work can be found at
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