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The illusion of evasion, distraction, suppression

Evasion, distraction and suppression can make us feel like we are escaping our inner-problems in the very short term, but we pay a heavy long-term price. By facing, accepting and embracing our inner discomfort our efforts are rewarded with deep confidence as we gradually become more and more courageous

Dear Integral Meditators,

Running away from the things within us that we are afraid of can be very tempting. In the article below I look at the consequences of this strategy, and how we can set up new strategies that give us a better chance of genuinely enjoying out life, even when we are going through a tough patch.

If you enjoy the article, we will be meditating with the subject this week in the first class of the new  Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilance your welcome to join us, either live or online!

In the spirit of mindful embracing,


The illusion of evasion, distraction, suppression

Difficult things are difficult to face
It’s not easy to face the things that make us uncomfortable in life.

  • Uncertainty of the future
  • Low self-esteem and lack of confidence in the face of a challenge
  • Regrets about the past
  • Fear of judgment
  • Feelings and emotions arising in us that we have been told are ‘bad’, forbidden or undesirable

The list could go on and on here, there are so many tricky and nervous-making things that can come up inside us in the face of our life-challenges.

The three types of short-term escape
In response to our discomfort, it can be easy to do three things:

  • Evade – Pretend we aren’t having the feeling, never acknowledge it or talk about it, push it out of our mind or think faster about something else whenever it comes up
  • Distract – Keep outwardly busy so we don’t have time to reflect on what’s going on inside. Go to social events we aren’t really interested in. Watch too much TV. Stay over-busy at work.
  • Suppress – Block the feelings and thoughts, put up inner walls, deny its existence, armor and tense our body against the presence of the emotional threat.

All of these three can feel like we are escaping in the very short term, but the longer-term price we pay is:

  • We remain stuck with the same unresolved difficult feelings and thoughts
  • We lose courage and self-esteem as we repeatedly (often unconsciously) give into fear and run away.
  • The unresolved feelings build and amplify, becoming larger and more difficult over time through the denial and suppression.
  • We can create actual repressions, where parts of our personality split off into the unconscious, becoming a part of our shadow, and haunting us continually from that place.

Replacing the three escape methods
A more courageous and effective methodology might be termed as ‘Facing, accepting and embracing’. If we take the example of working with anxiety around the future, this would mean:

  • Facing – When it arises, acknowledge it, turn toward not away from it. Bring it into your field of consciousness, not pushing it out and away
  • Accept – Accept that it is there, that it IS, even if it makes you uncomfortable, even if you don’t like it. Acceptance brings you into contact with the reality of your anxiety, and so in the best position to work with it effectively.
  • Embrace it – From acceptance, if we can then actually open to and embrace our inner challenge, it can begin to give back to us. For example we can then begin to work on transforming our anxiety about the future into excitement about the possibilities.

Transformation and enjoyment
Facing, accepting and embracing our inner challenges is a psychologically mature approach that rewards our efforts with confidence as we gradually become more and more courageous. It also helps us to remain practical and grounded in terms of finding real solutions to the actual things that are bothering us. Like all other well-done mindful methods, facing, accepting and embracing helps us to become more confident in the face of our reality, and in our capacity to deal with it effectively.

Related articleUnstructured mindfulness – Turning and facing yourself


Life-fullness – The Integral Life-Coaching Program with Toby

Are you looking a coach who can help you to:

  • Meet the challenges, stress and changes that you face in a more effective and mindful way
  • Become happier within yourself, in your relationships and at work
  • Be actively accountable for finding a sense of balance/well-being in your life and fulfilling your personal potential?
  • Guide you to find and operate from a deeper sense of meaning, motivation and connectivity in your life?
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All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Starts Tuesday /Wednesday 14/15th June – The Wisdom of Awakening series: Meditations for irreverent clarity & authentic vigilance

Tues & Weds 21/22nd June – Summer solstice balancing & renewing meditation

Saturday June 25th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

Monday-Weds 27-29th June – Mindful Life-skills for Teenagers – A three day course


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