Awhile back, this phrase came to me on a walk. I was reflecting on the many ways that we experience different emotional states of being, most often being diving into one while forgetting the other exists. At some point, though, I recognized that our best action is to hold both polarities at the same time. To hold sadness with joy; success with failure; belonging with isolation. And, in this way, we come to the recognition that true freedom is the marriage and balance of opposites.
As you reflect on your own life, do you tend towards sadness or joy? For many of us, we are taught to live on the bright side and we avoid or bypass the difficult feelings that lie within. We miss our own depths and our own shadows. Life may appear good on the surface but underneath, something more difficult and painful exists and at times calls us inward.
By marrying sadness with joy, we allow sadness to be there in some way while joy exists. We recognize that both are present in our world and in our hearts. Try it sometime. When you are feeling joy, just pause for a moment and hold or allow the sadness of the world or the sadness from your cells to be present, if only for a moment. See what happens.
Similarly, try allowing joy to be there when you are in a sad or depressed moment. Not to make the sadness go away but to infuse and deepen your sadness with the other truths of your life, the truths of enriching moments that have existed. See if there is a way to gently sway back and forth between the two. Some of us need to write a list of the moments in our lives that were good, where we did good or felt good. We reflect on this list—in our minds, in our hearts and in our bodies—as a way of acknowledging that our lives are made of both. It can like our own set of prayer beads that we gently remember as we finger them one by one.
See what happens when you hold your own set of opposites. Perhaps it is holding fear and love at the same time. Or maybe it’s holding your wounded self and your larger Essence or Soul. When I can do this, I often feel a sense of lightness of being, a sense of inner spaciousness, and a sense of freedom similar to the feeling you get when you’re on a teeter totter right at the balance point. Holding both expands our capacity, beyond our limited ego self, and allow us to feel our deep sensitivity and sacred vulnerability that knows in our heart of hearts, that which is real and true.