What do I ‘Want’ OR What do I ‘Need?’

By: Crosbie Watler, MD, FRCPC

On starting my day this morning, l reflected—as l often do—on the question:  “How do l want to feel today?”  Focus on how we want you feel, then make choices that might get us there.  At face value, this seems reasonable enough.

This time and for reasons that are unclear, l had the epiphany that l was asking the wrong question—attaching to how l WANT to feel.  Another attachment, another doing.  And of course, how do we WANT to feel? Calm and comfortable.  We don’t want to feel upset or messy, even if that is what we NEED to experience on our healing journey.

As we move towards increased awareness, memories and emotions that we have suppressed will come forward to be noticed.  This can make us feel very uncomfortable.  We then judge and resist the discomfort.

We WANT to feel “good,” to have a “nice” day, even if awareness of the discomfort is exactly what we NEED to create a different relationship with our memories and emotions.  Ultimately, a different relationship with ourselves. Below the neck and in the felt sense.

I suggest a better question:  Where should l focus my attention today?  For me, it’s awareness of breath and inner space.  Cultivating free and clear space in the body and anchoring there whenever possible.  Coming back to it when l lose it.  There l/we experience our BEING selves and bump into a formidable ally:  our Inner Healing Intelligence.  The capacity for healing is already there—not in the thinking, but in the still awareness below the neck.

Anchored there, we recognize that discomfort might be an ally on the path.  A signal that there is work to be done.  Do not judge it, or want something different.  Lean into it. Bring awareness to where there is discomfort in your mind, or in your body.   No narrative, simply presence. Perhaps breathe a bubble of space around any upset, then on the exhale, have the intention to breathe out what is not serving you.

This is the long game of “feeling better”—awareness that it is a process.  You may feel worse before you feel better.  Notice the discomfort, without the narrative. Without attachment.  As long as you maintain this practice, any discomfort or upset might be exactly what you NEED to evolve your awareness and your resilience.