Then, with full attention, breathe into the stuck place. Notice where the painful feelings reside in your body. Find the knots, the heat, the tense places. And gently breathe into those places, too. Imagine that your are bathing the “hurty” places with your breathe, bathing them in loving-kindness and compassion.
Let yourself really feel the "stickiness" of the feeling. Don’t worry, you won’t get more stuck! Just the opposite, actually. With attention to the feeling, you will feel it begin to release, to relax. With gentle interest, see if you can notice just what it is that is clinging to that sense of a suffering. When you fight against the feelings and strike out, you are actually just hating yourself. All you'll accomplish is just beating yourself up and being more stuck than ever. Don't do it!
So, just pay attention to everything that’s going on, and try to see where you can let go, and where you are stuck. Use your breath as an anchor and safe refuge. Mindfulness of the breah is a safe place to come back to should you get stuck in the “glue” or get panicky about the fearfulness or strength of the emotions. So, stay with your breath and bathe your feelings, and your “hurty places” with the gentle energy of the breath.
But, no more! It doesn’t have to be that way. The first big step is to catch yourself and really notice the feelings—and to stop! Really stop. And say, “Hey, wait a minute. What’s going on here? What am I really feeling right now?” (Don’t get side-tracked in to why you are feeling what you are feeling. Your mind will find every justification and blame for that—of yourself, of others, and of the world—believe me!) The big idea here is to stop and see the feeling as just feeling, the emotion as just emotion, and to really, really pay attention to it, like a naturalist suddenly discovering some rare and amazing flower. “What is this?”
Paying attention to the breath and it’s movement in the body, and in your mind, you will begin to see your capacity to just be present. You will begin to understand that you are not what you think, or feel. You will begin to sense that, yes, you can safely include what you think and feel in something so big and limitless that nothing can ever get stuck there. You don’t have to name this big, open spaciousness -- some Buddhist traditions call it "Big Sky mind", noting that nothing can get stick in its openness, any more than clouds can get stuck in the sky. I love that term, and image!
Yes, it’s a great work. Self-identified emotions are sticky! They can seem adamant. But, they are not! They are not intrinsic. They do not have a real self. They are not permanent. And the suffering they bring helps wake up so we want to let go of them—sooner or later! So, stop, catch yourself, pay attention, work with the breath, and see what opens up. It works!
I hope you find what I’ve shared here helpful. It’s all right out of my own dharma practice. Believe me, like you, I struggle with my feelings, emotions, and the various traumas of the past. But I have never found anything as effective for getting “unstuck” as some of the “skillful means” (Buddhists love that term) I’ve shared in this essay, and of course, there are many many more in the buddhadharma.
With mindful, attentive loving practice, we can experience more of that Big Sky mind and the freedom that always appears from getting unstuck. May this essay be a help along that great, and very happy way, of getting unstuck!