WEEK 4: When Pain & Discomfort Arise: Abiding, Hosting & Inner Refuge

Abiding, simply put, is being in the present moment, in a state of open awareness. In abiding we are not creating a state of calm and ease but rather we are allowing the mind to be as it already is - calm and at ease.

This doesn’t mean that when you are in the state of abiding things won’t come up - like a memory or a thought. When we abide, we are allowing ourselves to be open in order to host whatever may arise. We observe the thoughts that arise, we allow them to exist (we host them), and then we allow them to dissipate, leaving us with space to host whatever may arise next.

When challenging or repetitive “stuff” comes up, you will be asked to host and stay present with those thoughts, feelings, sensations, and pain.  Hosting the “stuff” is similar to witnessing what’s coming up - without grasping onto what’s risen and with the ability to see it for what it truly is.

Hosting does not mean internalizing the feelings of the hosted thought. I don’t want you to think, “Oh, this makes me feel awful. I want to feel awful. I’m supposed to feel awful because I’m hosting this awfulness.” When we do that we are allowing ourselves to be drawn into the story that we are supposed to feel awful because we are sitting with an awful feeling. That is not the goal. We are asking that you sit and just be present without getting caught up in a storyline.

It is human nature for things to pop up in the mind, even, or especially, when we are sitting. However, when we are able to sit with open awareness in direct response to the present moment, we are able to abide with confidence.

When we are meditating, we are working to create more space within. It’s human nature to fill that space, so “stuff” will come up. This “stuff” takes us away from that space where we feel warm, safe, and confident. We are irrigating the inner landscape by creating space around our thoughts. This calm space is referred to as the inner refuge, or the source of knowing.

How do we know when we’ve found inner refuge? Inner refuge means you have a place of shelter, protection, assistance, and relief within you. This place exists within you, always and absolutely, and not outside of you. Your experience of inner refuge might feel warm or calming. You might have the experience of being able to let go of something you’ve been holding on to or experience a feeling of ease and lightness. The thing about finding our space of refuge is that you really can’t put words to it and yet we try because we want to communicate our experience with others. I can’t tell you what your inner refuge experience is like - only you can do that. In many teachings, inner refuge is the place where love, compassion, joy, and equanimity arise spontaneously.