Feeling Overwhelmed

A Jumble of Boxes and Cables
March 3, 2021

Shambhavi talks about the difference between useful and harmful feelings of overwhelm. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

Student: I was wondering if you would talk about feeling overwhelmed?

Shambhavi: In the direct realization traditions overwhelm is actually a teaching strategy. What’s being overwhelmed is our fixed concepts about things, our habitual patterns, our defenses.

One of the ways of overwhelming those things is to create a feeling circumstance in someone where they just can’t continue to keep coping with their usual coping mechanisms. They can’t keep coping with the usual arguments, the usual reactivities, the usual ideas about things.

That can come about just from being in long teachings and being tired. It can also come about by hearing things that just kind of like—wooo!—you know, feel kind of overwhelming. Being in a transmission situation can be overwhelming at times.

That kind of feeling overwhelmed can be something that we normally think of as uncomfortable or wrong. But if it’s in the right circumstance, and it’s being used in the right way, it will lead to relaxation. It will lead to just the attitude that we actually want to have when we’re being in life. I mean receptivity, porousness, and a sort of improvisational way of being in the world without a lot of preconceptions.

There’s another kind of overwhelm that we aren’t ready for, or we can’t digest. And when we’re experiencing that kind of overwhelm, we have a feeling of unhealthy exhaustion, where we just feel like we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. We get kind of hysterical when we’ve used too much energy and we really need to just stop.

So it’s a good thing to learn to be sensitive to when overwhelm is actually helping you and when it’s not, when you’re being digested by it. And, of course, that can happen in lots of different circumstances.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.