Vulnerability is the doorway to knowing ourselves as love, and gives us access to true strength. For many of us, self-protective armor is usually unconsciously erected at a young age.
Although we think it will help us, it is actually the cause of much of our adult suffering, because it seems to separate us from knowing ourselves as the very love we already are. Awareness of it is a big step toward freedom.
I’ve discovered that letting go of self-armoring is necessary for happiness and wellbeing. Usually we're trained to think that to be open and vulnerable is a weakness, but it is actually just the opposite. When we open and surrender to the love within, we have access to the TRUE strength of our True Being.
Often, when we are faced with something that feels threatening to us, we unconsciously retreat behind a wall of self-protection. We don't realize that the self-protection itself creates far more suffering than the thing we think we are afraid of. We create a mental / emotional wall that blocks our awareness of the true strength within, where we are actually completely safe.
I want to be clear that I’m not discouraging you to do what you need to do to take care of yourself if you’re in an environment that could cause you harm. However, the only place where there is true safety is within, in the space between thoughts, where we can experience ourselves as Pure Awareness.
This Neutral Observer Meditation can help you know yourself as Pure Awareness. To allow vulnerability and love, the part that I’m talking about letting down or letting go of is the perceptible hardness or resistance that we experience against a person or a situation.
On the surface, it seems like the resistance is there to keep harm out. However it actually cuts us off from our own love. When I observe it in myself it is a rigid, clamped-down feeling that is very uncomfortable and confining.
The purpose of the armor is to separate from others rather than to join with them in love. It is the belief in separation within mind which perpetuates the experience of pain on the mental, emotional and physical levels.
For many of us, to survive the hurts of childhood, this armoring was adopted in the hopes it would help protect us from pain. But as adults, that same armor serves to separate us from our own peace and healing energy as well as our ability to experience love and connection with others.
To observe this in yourself, think back to the last experience you had where you came away feeling negative towards someone. Replay it in your mind and look for the moment where a thought quickly passed through your mind about being afraid of being a victim in the situation.
If you're feeling resistance toward another person you felt threatened in some way. Then, if you noticed you were upset, that could only mean that you invested the thought of being a victim with belief, which created the experience of fear.
For most of us, this process happens so quickly that we're not aware of it until we begin to consciously watch within and observe it.
The irritation or anger is the armoring I’m talking about. It can erect itself in a fraction of a second, making it look like the other person did something horribly wrong, when all that really happened is that we had a flash of a thought, believed it, and felt fear.
Then we immediately feel resistance to the person or situation. I have found it extremely valuable to go back to the moment when I felt the fear and in the “replay” allow myself to feel that unprotected feeling – to feel the vulnerability that was there before the “protection” arose.
In other words, replay the situation in your mind, but feel the fear without engaging in any kind of self-defense. Then notice what the thought was that created the fear and decline to invest the thought with belief.
In my daily meditations, I make it a point to find the place of unprotected vulnerability inside myself. Then, by staying with that sensation of surrender, something magical happens. At first I feel fear, then it becomes clear that “fear” is actually a word we assign to the negative feeling that happens when we resist vulnerability!
When I don’t label that feeling and just allow it to be here I experience it as pure sensation. It is actually just a vibration. Then, gradually, there is a feeling of relief and letting go.
When we let go of the armor, then (and only then) can we become aware of the love that we are. We can begin to experience ourselves as the Pure Awareness that is always here and always at peace.
We are distracted from knowing ourselves as Pure Awareness because we place our attention on the body, thoughts, emotions, and circumstances. Instead, when we shift our attention from those distractions and let it rest on the attention itself – our Self as Pure Awareness – then we experience peace.
The problem with armored self-protection is that we think it will help us, but instead, it is the separating from ourselves that creates the very suffering we are trying to avoid. When we give up defending ourselves, our own prison walls come down and we experience the love we already are.
Once you experience yourself as Pure Awareness – the all-embracing field of energy that anger and fear arise in – your attention will naturally return to Awareness again and again because of the sweet relief that you'll experience.
Here is an experiment:
The next time you feel a negative reaction toward someone arising, tell yourself:
“Even though I want to snap at this person to defend myself, instead, I’ll stay quiet and still. I’ll allow the strength of my vulnerability and openness to be here and see what happens.”
Then allow whatever you are feeling within to arise. You'll most likely feel a combination of anger and fear. Now let those labels go. Let of categorizing any of the feelings as "good" or "bad." Feel the sensations of the emotions themselves. They are just vibrations, made out of the very same thing that YOU are made out of – Pure Energy. Occupy the same space as the sensations you are experiencing. Be one with them.
When you do this, at first you'll feel an intensity of energy. This isn't because the anger or fear are increasing, it is because you are becoming more aware of what was already here. If you just allow it all to be here, without pushing away from it in any way, you'll begin to notice relief.
It will feel like a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders. It is surprising to discover how much armor weighs! If you continue with this process, you'll feel yourself as an expansive love and strength.
You'll notice that your ideas of who you thought you were won't be so solid anymore. There will be less rigidity and more availability of yourSelf to yourSelf and to the rest of the world. In turning toward the vulnerability rather than away from it, there is a wonderful openness.
There is freedom to know yourSelf in a new yet familiar way, beyond the body or self concept. You'll begin to experience yourSelf as Pure Awareness.
To get to this “let go” place, first we need to choose to accept the moment as it is, including everything that we are feeling. The fear is that doing this will just feel really bad and just keep getting worse. However, it is actually the opposite!
Letting Go Of The Story
So how can you accept the moment and what you’re feeling when the old armor starts to take over? Completely let go of the story of what happened – the “he-did-this” and “she-said-that” part.
Rather than focusing on thoughts, shift your attention to the sensations you feel as you think of the subject that caused the anger / fear response. Stay with the raw energy itself.
Then don’t defend against anything and just let come what comes. Actually surrender to the energy inside you. Remember, it is made out of the same "substance" that you are made out of. It is just taking a temporary form of fear or anger.
The feeling will keep changing and transforming as you observe it. You may experience anger, then resentment, sadness, fear or even terror.
If you stay with it all the way, keeping your aware attention on the energy / feeling, you will actually begin to experience relief and a sense of calm.
There are layers to this generally, so don't be surprised if it you need to go into the subject again and again before you begin to feel relief and calmness. Just think of the subject that troubles you and repeat the process described above.
It is assured that you WILL feel relief, calm and love. We already ARE love. It is only in our thoughts that we conceive of ourselves as a body, thoughts, emotions, self-concepts, etc. Identifying ourselves as a "part" within our mind creates enormous suffering. When we discover that we are One with all Life, we know ourselves as peace.
Here is a lovely video by Rupert Spira, about the power of openness, availability and vulnerability:
So Worth The Effort!
Even though we already ARE peace and there is nothing we need to "do" to become peace, in the beginning it does take effort to shift our attention to the deeper levels of our experience where we begin to KNOW ourselves as peace. We have to choose to love ourselves enough to point our attention into the love that we already are.
I guarantee you that doing this is well worth the effort! In the process of letting down self-protective armor, a natural healing process occurs naturally on all levels of our being.
In this state of openness and surrender, residues from past hurts unwind, naturally and gently. As we continue to practice letting our vulnerability and openness be here, we feel more relaxed, open, aware and at peace. When we know ourselves as Pure Awareness, there is no longer a need for self-protection. It just isn’t relevant any more.
You might also be interested in WellBeing Alignment Sessions, where you are guided and supported in discovering and resting in Awareness, and letting all suffering unwind on its own.