How avoiding feelings avoids the present moment and avoids life

KL & Samuel on an adventure

KL & Samuel on an adventure

By Kara-Leah GrantMusings from the Mat

This morning, the wonderful woman who looks after Samuel four days a week while I work told me she’s finishing up with PORSE (home-based early childhood education) on April 6.

This is a big deal.

I live in a small town with no kindergaten or other early childhood education facility.

There is no other childcare available (right now). I’m also a single parent working from home and those childcare hours are my livelihood – not just for my business but also to give me some time out.

I came home, sat down, looked at my looooong to do list for the day – made all the longer because Ngaire had been sick yesterday so I’d had Samuel for the day – and noticed I had feelings arising in the pit of my belly.

Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have noticed those feelings. My mind would’ve spun a story of:

It will work out, something will come up, it will be fine, you’ll cope.

Which may be true, and that positive attitude has served me well in many ways. But it’s also skipping an important part of life – feeling my actual response to change.

In the noticing of the feelings I realised I needed to set aside my to-do list and just allow myself the time and space to feel what I was feeling. To be with the experience.

This is the gift of home yoga practice. This is my yoga spilling off the mat and informing how I live my life.

So I sat, still at my desk, but in half lotus on my chair, hands in prayer and I breathed into my body. As I did so, a surprisingly thought arose from my body – yes, the thought came from my body, from below my neck. I’ve learned that these arising body-originating thoughts are the ones to pay attention to.

This is an opportunity.

Interesting. I checked in again, continuing to breathe, noting that the sensations in my belly had dissipated, and the thought stayed with me, arising from my body.

This is an opportunity.

I’m not sure yet what that means. It’s comforting though, and it feels expansive. It’s a radically different way to how we normally approach change that shakes up our comfortable status quo.

Our habitual response to change  is to want to cling to what was. We want to say:

No, you can’t stop, I need you, you have to do that, what am I going to do?

This is resistance against what is and a contraction against life. It’s not bad – it’s just our natural response to change. With practice, we can see this, allow it to be, and let it pass.

What comes after the resistance and the contraction to change?

Acceptance – this is what’s happening, how to I feel about it?

Those feelings are what we’re trying to avoid by contracting and resisting against the change. Or conversely, you might operate like I do, and skip right over resistance and contraction as a way to avoid feeling and into solutions and positive thinking. That’s also avoidance of feeling, just the flip side of the same coin.

Whether you resist or leapfrog to solutions when change happens in your life, the result is the same.

You’re avoiding feeling.

And when you avoid feeling, you avoid dropping down into the deep present moment. That deep present moment is where knowing and guidance arises from. It’s where the real solution will come in response to the change. That solution may be completely different from anything your mind could have come up with. Your mind works with known quantities and with what’s worked before.

My mind was thinking – I need childcare four days a week. How can I make that happen?

Dropping into the deep present moment changes the parameters of response.

It doesn’t focus on fixing things so they stay the same. Instead, it opens into life as it would be with the change – I’d have Samuel full-time, and allows ideas to come out of that.

It’s infinitely more expansive and creative. It’s more alive and more nourishing. There’s no fear at all.

Already, I’m feeling that expansion and some excitement as I wonder… what kind of opportunities could arise as a result of this? How does this free me up and what could we do instead?

I’ve switched from finding definitive solutions to asking questions.

Plus I feel naturally ok with the situation.

Not because I’ve told myself that:

Everything will be alright, you’ll work it out, you’ll cope, you’ll be fine.

No – that kind of pep talk from the mind masks underlying fear in the body.

Instead, my body has softened and relax and there’s a knowingness from the deep that all is ok.

I don’t need the Mind’s pep talk because there’s no scary feelings to placate.

I just know.

This is yoga, lived. This is the gift of a regular home yoga practice. It changes the way you respond to life and makes you more present. Out of presence arises a deep connection to all that is, infinite creativity and equanimity, and a knowingness.

That is gold.


  1. says

    Hi Kara-Leah, thank you for your post. I feel your posts are in tune with my heart at the moment. This one certainly is! I am doing a 60 day Yoga and Kriya and I have found many issues arising for me from the past. I know this is part of the journey and I am embracing it fully. But it was not only 2 hours ago I went for a walk for lunch with these past haunts coming up on my mind. What is the message? Do I stomp them back down into my dark closet or do I deal with these as they arise so I can live fully in the present. I returned from my work knowing I had some metaphorical doors to open, purge and close forever. Then along came your post to back up my thoughts for today. Thank you for helping me live more in the present. It’s always a pleasure reading your posts. Hayley

    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hi Haley,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s always lovely to hear from readers how these articles resonate (or don’t!). I’m sure a 60 day Yoga and Kriya practice will be bringing up all kinds of things. There is a fine line between working with what arises, and being over-whelmed with what arises. Sometimes our practice needs to shift to allow us a slower open and release. And as always, it helps to have a support teacher and sangha (spiritual community).

      Many blessings on your journey,


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