Jeff Foster: Just sitting with pain or discomfort, without trying to escape

Just sitting with pain or discomfort, without trying to escape in any way, without expectation, without a goal in mind, without seeking anything – that’s the juicy place, the place of creative transformation, the place where mud turns to gold.

For many years, I would just sit with grief, frustration, anger, fear, pain, just resting in that bubbling, burning mess for hours and hours, without trying to escape or fix my experience, without hope, without a dream… until peace was discovered even in the midst of that storm, the unshakeable, non-conceptual, ever-present peace that I am, and have always been.

Instead of trying to escape discomfort, we let discomfort reveal its deeper secrets. We sit with discomfort and watch all boundaries between ‘me’ and ‘discomfort’ melt away, until it is no longer ‘me sitting with my discomfort’ at all, and never was. We sit with frustration in the place where it has not yet coagulated into ‘I am frustrated’. We sit with fear prior to the resurrection of the image ‘I am the one who is afraid’. We sit with anger before the birth of our identity as ‘the angry one’. We know ourselves as the vast open space, the boundless and identity-less ocean that welcomes all of these waves as its beloved children, returned home at last, home at last.

– Jeff Foster

This fits my experience, and it’s also something I am still exploring and learning.

I also notice some thoughts that come up about the words he uses:

His language is exaggerated. He uses a language of absolutes. He is trying to escape something. It’s wishful thinking. He is overlooking what’s left. (When he says “without trying to escape in any way” etc..)

And in longer sentences:

How can he possibly know that there is no trying to escape “in any way”, no goals, no seeking of any kind? It may appear that way, in the moment (as I have experienced), and it may still be there. He blocks himself from seeing, being receptive to, what’s left. He sets up unrealistic expectations. He sets up images others may feel they cannot live up to. It’s misguided. It’s not quite honest.

3 thoughts to “Jeff Foster: Just sitting with pain or discomfort, without trying to escape”

  1. You and other teachers use the term, “There is pain,” directed to “awakened” beings who’ve eliminated the “I” sense.

    Also, too often I see the statement, “There is no death” without further explanation.

    To me, it seems that you and other teachers/masters, Tolle and many others, avoid practical issues and direct answers, especially those of old age and people who are experiencing much pain.
    Why can’t they come down from the mountaintops into the valley where most humans live.

    You above all seem to be willing to discuss this, and this is not so much directed to you but all of the others. This was the only place I could find to even ask the questions.

  2. Hi James – I am not Jeff Foster, I just posted a quote from him. But I agree that many teachers often address these things in a general and abstract way, instead of taking a more practical and pragmatic approach.

    I have found The Work and the Living Inquiries to be helpful in how I relate to physical symptoms and problems. Also, Shinzen Young has a book specifically about working with pain. He has a synopsis for free on his website.

    If you want to contact Jeff Foster, or at least get more feedback on this, you could try his Facebook page.


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