Anguish: Excruciating or Acute distress

Yesterday morning Anguish knocked my door. Different people feel it at different times; for different reasons. My reason that morning was harsh words that opened some old wounds.

Life reveals itself in coincidences. As I was contemplating writing about emotions, I encountered Shamatha Meditation. A simple mindfulness practice that prods you to focus on the emotions. “Emotions are nothing but energy”, says Pema Chodron. She insists us to lose the narrative; No he said this, she did that; but just the feeling. This way we do not get carried away by the emotion, but stay in it and pass through it. That is whole another topic for another blog.

Coming back to anguish, touching and feeling anguish and not just drowning helplessly in it, was not as bad it would otherwise feel.

Anguish is a complex emotion. There is sadness. There is anger; rage even. There is so much pain one wants to lash out. And there is also the sense of irreplaceable loss that the lashing out cannot bring back. Life has been unfair. And there is not much you can do about it. So instead you seethe; seethe in pain.

The force is suffocating. It seems to choke you. You cannot breathe.

The thing is anguish is a strong emotion. It is the state we wallow in when a precious some thing leaves our life and we don’t know how to take the next step. But anguish also occurs in our daily lives with instances like not getting that promotion perhaps.

So the next time anguish floods you, try feeling it.

As I breathed in and out with that energy that morning, it took the shape of a hole. A missing piece within the seld. And mourning. For whatever that went missing.

A loss and sadness that accompanies that. A hole that is hard to fill.

Now my breath returned to that hole. I looked at it. I carried it in my arms. I surrounded it with compassion. And then came the sight. I could see that the hole was letting light in. I just didn’t want to see the light. I was rather focused on the hole and what went missing through that hole.

We all live like beings in a box. We are boxed by our beliefs, thoughts, desires, emotions. We often cannot see beyond the boundaries of the box. Growing up continually pushes you to open up which means the boundaries of the box have to be cracked open. And that is not always a pleasant experience.

So, Anguish is a hole that lets light in. We all carry that hole inside of us. The story and the characters differ. But deep down it is the same hole.

We did not ask for the hole. We did not want it. And now that we have it, we cannot fill it and make it go away. That choking feeling is nothing but our refusal to see that. We feel lost looking for options to fill the hole. The way to make it go away is to see past the hole; see the light. And when we finally get the strength to see the light, it does not then remain a hole. It becomes a window.

Photograph by Alec Weir. Courtesy:

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