I have strong impulses for things in my life. Some of these impulses cause me great stress. What I call an impulse, others might refer to as a “sturb” (as in a disturbance in the emotional body) or a reaction. When they are present for me, I usually find my self in a place of stress or unbalance.
“Sitting with fire” is a term I use to describe a practice of noticing when that impulse is present, then making a conscious effort to sit with or meditate on that impulse. Stillness versus action. No avoidance, just a complete surrender to the impulse to observe what I feel and perhaps the source behind the it.
One example of such an impulse is work related. I feel the need to jump into work, even though it’s my day off. Why because it’s work and somebody needs me. I can feel my anxiety levels rise as the impulse begins to stir. This is when I need to slow down and breath. I stop myself and take an inventory of what I need and what I want (not what work or the impulse desires). The idea is not to give into the impulse, but rather to sit with the impulse (fire), until it loses it’s power over me.
Other examples of impulses can be:
- The desire to eat sweet or junk foods
- The desire for alcohol or drugs
- Dangerous or costly behaviors (i.e. gambling, driving at high speeds, etc.)
- Sexual impulses
It is my ability to sit with fire, that is perhaps the biggest indicator that my spiritual practice is alive and strong. How long I can sit with whatever it is that troubles me, the more I’ll see and feel. I am no longer reactive to that force.
This is important to our overall health and well-being. For I believe most of us go through our lives reacting to these impulses. Our perspective of the world is often ruled by them. The things we do to avoid or numb out, only further enhances the problem.
So sitting with fire becomes an important practice like meditation or yoga. See if you can catch yourself as you feel the grip of an impulse start to land. The only way to do this though is through practice, practice, practice.