I’ve gifted myself a lot more sitting this year.

Partly due to COVID, partly due to taking a break from acting and work, and partly due to my fiancé and I’s interest in Soto Zen and meditation. There’s still some running, you know from the uncomfortable moments and hard to process emotions, but there’s much more sitting. And If I’ve been reminded of anything this year it’s that through discomfort we can find greater peace and freedom. 

In the past, I would do everything I could to stay comfortable.  As soon as an intense, foreign, or hard to deal with emotion came up I would distract myself with some random activity ( the phone was my favorite). But that moment of solace was nothing but a crutch. While I was working so hard to avoid feeling “bad”, I was also simultaneously delaying my own growth. 

Thankfully this year has been different. Living with my partner has helped me face my emotions head-on because there’s nowhere else to run. I no longer have the luxury of putting “processing emotions” at the end of my to do list, for the sake of my peace and the health of my relationships it has to happen NOW. So I decided to befriend my anxiety, disappointment, frustration, anger, and all of the other uncomfortable feelings by literally sitting with them. Acknowledging them, examining them, and really hearing them out. I’ve even advanced to sharing them more by talking through it with other people. And guess what, I haven’t died yet!

Despite the burning sensation in my chest or the frustration and tension that arises.

Despite me choking on my words or trying to speed through them inaudibly.

Despite me feeling extremely weak or small. 

In the past, I mainly used film and acting to process or share, but now I’m doing it more in real life!

Like when I had to tell one of my oldest friends that I was jealous of her interacting with my fiancé.

Like admitting I feel insecure or lonely in a group, or weird and apathetic at times. 

As common as these feelings are, they are still really challenging for me to voice, especially at the moment I’m feeling them. And let me emphasize VOICE because if you’re like me you have spent most of your life journaling, and while writing is very effective, it’s a different challenge to speak what you’re feeling out loud. Talk about nerves lol! Before now I didn’t feel like I had a space to fully express myself without being judged, I only had the theatre ( and sometimes film). But I’ve witnessed time and time again how holding things in and not being vulnerable enough to share has limited me, so not feeling comfortable can no longer be an excuse. Trust me I know it can be terrrrrrifying. It’s hard to know what to say or how to express yourself when you can’t even identify what you’re feeling or why. But like everything else in life, it just takes practice. I’ve spent so much time researching and learning about love and relationships, about dealing with pain and healing ourselves, and about improving our emotional intelligence to create more compassion and empathyBut reading isn’t enough. At some point we have to start applying all of the things we’ve learned to our everyday lives. If we want to be our best, if we truly want to enjoy our time here, we have to make the effort to keep trying despite our fears. We must take the challenging steps to evolve from our ways of living that no longer work for us.

Every time I acknowledge my feelings and take the time to process them instead of running away to hide and comfort myself, I feel stronger.  And when one area of my life strengthens, every area improves. This year I feel less shame and anxiety, more love and self-acceptance, and most importantly I feel like I have a better hold on my emotions. I truly believe there’s no work more important than the work we choose to do on ourselves, and each time I choose peace, love, and spiritual growth over fear it gets that much easier to do. If you’re not sure where to begin, start by sitting.

Naomi Mack

A well-rounded artist focused on holistic-healing & self-expression.
Co-Founder @ Pennedhouse.

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