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the Presence Point

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The Raspberry Jam of Irritation

The Raspberry Jam of Irritation

photo credit: raspberry jam via photopin (license)

We long to fight irritation when it arises, fleeing the scene. But what if we stayed with it? Could irritation be a vanguard of clarity?


It’s December and it’s been raining. It should be snowy, and I should be making more money than I am. I should say yes to this opportunity, but everything in me says no, don’t do it. And there are other shoulds starting to pile up. Instead of snowdrifts against the side of my house, there are should-drifts. I am starting to get rather irritated.

It grates, this irritation. It feels like sandpaper against my heart. In fact, it makes my heart feel squeezed like raspberry jam, gritty and acidic, not enough sugar, too many seeds. The discomfort makes me wiggle, wanting to squiggle away and be anywhere else.

But it doesn’t work. I know this. I know that the more I allow the discomfort, the more I will receive information from the irritation. I know that I must let it be what it is, and annoyingly enough, just feel the irritation. But at this point, irritation is radiating out from me in waves, and is making my baby cranky too. It feels beginningless.

Fortunately, I know how to sit still in the midst of the feelings, letting them pour through me instead of trying to fix them or analyze them or change them or make them go away, or more drastically try to run away from them.

Feelings arise, and I am awash in the gritty pungency of irritation. My stomach is clenched and my breath is constricted. I don’t want to face the facts, I don’t want any of it. The struggle of fighting this very moment increases my irritation and the flavor in my mouth is becoming extremely distasteful.

But I hunker down.

Why? Why make the conscious choice not to push away the irritation? Why make the icky decision to rest inside of discomfort? And what happens when you do?

First of all, we know it doesn’t work to push away the yuckiness because it will just come back to haunt us later.

Secondly, trying to “fix” the discomfort only smears a coating of passion over our experience.

Our third option is ignoring the discomfort, which basically means we are not standing up and being present.

Obviously, these three techniques don’t work. So what’s next? Once we are there, tasting the bile, so to speak, we can begin to reap the benefit of our presence. What?! There is benefit to resting within irritation?

Why yes. The irritation itself has information, and staying with it reveals the information streaming from the objects of our irritation as well.

We may think that the object of our irritation is petty and annoying. Fine. But stay with the experience of irritation. Ask yourself if you can do this. Challenge yourself to reside in the midst of discomfort. Let the experience guide you, drawing you out of your petty mind, out of the object of irritation and into the deeper waters of the energy of irritation.

What do you find?Is there clarity there? Can you let there be a distinction between the rollicking waves of irritation and the deeper waters beneath? By licking the taste of the salty water, can that deeper water instruct you, showing you who you are and where you are?

What if irritation was a vanguard and you let it guide you to clarity?

So stay there, taste your garnet heart. Eat the sour raspberry jam of irritation and let presence be the sweetener.