Mastering the Art of Containment (But Not Suppression)

Mastering the Art of Containment (But Not Suppression) - Pema Chodron - Nothing ever goes away until taught what we need know

March 27th, 2017

By Open

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

Being careful with causality.

Life is full of paradoxes. In fact, the more we walk the path, the more we may realise each stone we tread is in itself a grey area of multiple truths, yet we take each step with a distinct Right Action.

Take for example expressing one’s truth: many know how important this can be. If we don’t express who we truly are and if we’re not being authentic, then we’re certainly going to limit our unfolding. Yet what if we feel frustration inside, anger, rage, or at times even hatred? I’ve observed all such colours are painted in life’s karmic artistry. Is it right to suppress such feelings or deny them if they are bubbling away within? Yet if we let this causality out, does that not then draw to us their reflective effects?

Here’s where we need to master the art of ‘containment’. What exactly do I mean by this?

Ancient light of the soul

There are many spiritual teachings that speak of spreading love and peace. It risks becoming an indoctrinated mantra in spiritual circles. What if you don’t feel like spreading love and peace? What if at times you feel plain angry? Is it then right to override these feelings, as many do? What impact do you imagine that has internally?

I can tell you that from observational and direct experience, it builds a reality of illusion and denial. It constructs concealed frustration. And the more we heap upon it layers of false pleasantries, the further away from absolute truth and our true path we slide.

Our purpose here is to find an authentic expression and let it sing. And at the heart of any impulse, including anger, there is an ancient light of the soul at its core. Anger so often conceals passion for example — the commitment to a cause and the yearning to overcome embedded resistance in the flow. It sometimes takes a huge amount of expressed energy to break down the dam.

Flushing away the flotsam

So it’s healthy to express, to stir up what is truly inside, and to let it out; for only then will we see in the external mirror the internal layers of compacted silt and the soul gold buried within them. Only then can we stir up the sediment of life, flush away the flotsam and reintegrate these nuggets of beingness into our golden flow.

There is nothing more painful then watching the wrythings of someone who is not being true to themselves, for they are not being true to you either. It is only by being truly honest, truly authentic about how we’re feeling in the moment, whether good, bad or ugly, that the mirror reflects the possibility of a new unfolding.

But of course this leads to a dilemma. We all know that what we put out into our environment the universe reflects back. And surely have we not had enough anger and hatred already in this world? This is where mastering the art of containment is of profound value.

The art of ‘containment’

Here are some important facets to mastering its art…

  1. The most important thing is not to deny what’s bubbling under the surface, but rather to bring light to it by an honest exploration of what we’re truly feeling.
  2. If we’re feeling anger, rage or even hatred, of course there must be the recognition of the impact this could have when outwardly expressed.
  3. So recognise the building energy, honour it, but then hold it within your consciousness field. Don’t be tempted to deny or suppress.
  4. Watch and feel the energy, but most importantly, know that it is not you. It does not define who you are at your core, which is pure presence, unperturbed by it all. This helps hold the energy.
  5. If things are getting too hot and beginning to bubble over, find an outlet through which to express. It could be shouting, screaming, strong physical exercise, beating a pillow or punch bag.
  6. Be careful not to direct the energy at people or other sentient life (unless invited as facilitation). It risks embedding judgment, negative feedback loops and karma which can be hard to remove.
  7. Watch for an empathetic ear with whom to share and express.

A smoother ride

I’ve found that steps like these truly help people master the art of containment. It becomes possible to hold and experience all manner of potentially destructive expression, yet process it in a positively productive way. The world on the outside is not negatively imprinted with unwelcome consequence.

Furthermore, when we hold the energy, but without simply dumping it, then what I’ve so often found is that the situation we’re confronting can shift in a favourable way. A degree of internal agitation can dislodge the dam that is resisting our flow.

So next time you find your life suddenly wanting to bubble up with frustrated tension, explore holding the energy before immediately unleashing it on the world. Contain it, but look for positive channels of expression. Mastering the art of containment leads to a smoother ride through the frequently frothy turbulence of the flow.

(on behalf of Openhand)

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About the author:


Openhand is a unique approach to spiritual evolution: integrating enlightened wisdom of spiritual masters through the ages, it is a way of tapping into the Benevolent Guiding Consciousness of the Universe and aligning with it in your life. It helps you unveil your True Self, remove karmic blockages and unfold your Divine Destiny. It leads to authentic, resilient and truly successful living.

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