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What is vulnerability?
Vulnerability as we use it here is a state of being open, tender, authentic, available, unarmed, unmasked.
What is bliss?
Bliss is a heightened state of peace, joy, contentment and sense of fulfillment. So, we all desire feeling bliss, being in a state of bliss … who wouldn’t want to?
However, to access bliss, we want to clear what’s in the way that keeps us from experiencing bliss. And what may be in the way has to do with opening up to vulnerability.
Now, why is this so? Most of us really avoid feeling vulnerable because we associate vulnerability with feeling weak, powerless, helpless, perhaps humiliated or not respected, shamed, frustrated, or confused. Now who would want to feel that way? I don’t. Do you?
My personal story
I remember when I really was thrown into intense vulnerability. It was not too long ago. Last summer, I was informed by my doctor that I needed a hysterectomy, and within a couple of minutes being in this doctor’s office, I got very clear that this was given to me by the universe to clear my body. I prepared myself for the surgery in peace with ease. The surgery itself went miraculously well. The recovery, the healing, all just flowed easily.
Yet, there was one thing that I did not expect: Emotionally I felt extremely tender, raw and deeply vulnerable for months to come.
I have come to look at this experience as a clearing of the flesh that availed an access to cellular memory. For me that memory that surfaced had to do with a two-year-old girl who grew up in Stuttgart, Germany, in a family of 10 children. At two years old, I felt so in love with my dad … so in love, and I sensed that he felt the same—heart to heart. However, he was not able to express it in a way that I could get it.
Today I would call my dad emotionally illiterate. Yet back then, I felt rejected, ignored, not being loved or paid attention to. My little heart was yearning for the explicit expression of his love for me. I couldn’t make sense of feeling so deeply connected emotionally with him on one hand yet terribly rejected by his distant behavior on the other hand. The inner and outer worlds became very confusing to me.
Living in this dichotomy, I tried to protect my feeling Self by muting myself. I retreated to my blissful inner world so I did not have to deal with my sense of disconnect in the outer world. This longing for love and connection with my dad stayed with me for many years and decades to come.
What also stayed with me was a sense of helplessness and powerlessness about not being able to change it. I couldn’t change my dad to express and demonstrate his love for me more explicitly.
All of that longing resurfaced post-surgery in such a raw way. Instead of closing off and protecting myself, pretending it was not there, I allowed myself to feel it, to go there. I was crying days on end with deep sadness welling up.
My beloved husband was by my side the entire time holding space for me every day. He supported me all along and suggested at some point to consider taking medication. And I could understand why, given my emotional state. However I said to him, “Darling, I don’t want to pacify myself. I am going towards this sadness however long it may take. I want to clear this. I want to free myself.”
And the curious thing for me during this whole time was that I thought, “I have this beautiful man by my side who loves me deeply. Where does the longing come from?”
So, I meditated on it. And it occurred to me that this feeling of longing has brought forth the most gorgeous music in human history.
When we think of a Frederic Chopin Nocturne or the song by Billie Holiday where she sings about these two lovers parting and one expresses:
“I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places.
I’ll find you in the morning sun, and when the night is new,
I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”
I kept looking at the moon in my meditation, in my reflection, in my longing looking for ‘you’. And in that looking, in that reflecting, what was I looking for? A lover? Or was I looking for myself, longing for reuniting with myself?
Then I put myself into the moon, looking at myself. And while reflecting, while meditating, what came to me was perhaps I’m longing for the universe … the universe that I come from, that we all come from, that shot us into this life. Perhaps I’m longing for reuniting with the universe?
And in that reflection, in that being with the longing, what opened up was the circular flow of coming home, coming to peace, coming to joy, and yes, coming to bliss.
The Keys to Transmuting Vulnerability Into Bliss
So, how can we learn to transmute vulnerability into bliss?
The three essential keys to learn tapping into vulnerability so we can experience a state of bliss are
Key #1 Belly Breath
We breathe all the time in the upper chest, the lungs. We don’t think about it. It oxygenates the body. It’s called sympathetic breathing.
However, when we bring the breath down into the diaphragm and extend into the belly, we actually have to think a little bit to do that. Firstly, it gives our mind a little space, a little break from the suffering we might be going through. Secondly, it oxygenates more efficiently. We produce more endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin—the feel good hormones. Breathing parasympathetically puts our body in a chemical state of ease.
Key #2 Witness State of Mind
The witness state of mind allows watching the thoughts and the stories that create this total felt sense that shows up. I’m in traffic. Now my back gets tight, my heart is pumping and my blood pressure is up.
Being in the witness is really the key to watching and shifting how we experience and how we want to experience our life. Unlike, say, a moose walking through the forest minding it’s own business and a tree falls. It’s startled. Then it sees some berries, eats the berries on the tree and then the rain begins to fall. It lifts its snout and drinks the water from the sky. And when it’s complete, it moves on.
Now, the human is walking through the forest, and the tree falls. ‘Oh my God. I could have been killed. What would have happened to my 401k? And I’ve got a vacation and a business meeting, and it’s raining, too. Oh, God. Why me?’
That’s what we do with everything. We’re thinking from life’s beginning to the end and it’s not going to stop. Believe me. But we can learn to watch the story, the narrative, without getting lost in the total felt sense.
Key #3 Energy Awareness
Energy is very elusive because we cannot see it. The curious thing is that none of us learned about our life force energy in school or college. While we may have learned about electrical, thermal or nuclear energy, human energy is totally absent from our curriculum.
Becoming aware of how energy shows up within us on physical, emotional and mental levels allows to tune with our feeling self that in turn is the gateway to transmuting vulnerability into experiencing bliss.