2 12, 2007

Emotions as beauty itself

December 2nd, 2007|emotions, life, love, pain, transformation|15 Comments

For this post, I’ll include more of my personal journey: that of dealing with emotions. I’ve always been someone who has had had very intense emotions to deal with, especially those related to my past sexual abuse. Because of this, many emotions have come at any and all times, without apparent ‘reason’: at work, in relationships, light social times, and with family. Without any visible reason or sense, at least in the immediate context, it’s easy to hold judgment about strong emotions in our culture. It can appear to make others uncomfortable.

This isn’t particular to sexual abuse; it is quite common to anyone sensitive and emotionally open, dealing with pain in any way. Emotions are emotions. They don’t make sense. If they did, they would be thoughts, not emotions. The heart has reasons the mind knows not of, and never will. Our need to make sense greatly depends on how allowing we are of the emotion. A grand sense of joy flittering like butterflies across our hearts when we see, for example, kittens playing with string for the first time, won’t require much sense. And yet, when it comes to ‘negative emotions’, such as pain, fear, anger, self-hatred, or a mix of them that could be called inner conflict, we often simply don’t allow them to come forward as naturally. We want reasons, explanations, labels, and hopefully a way to protect ourselves against them appearing again. This is the illusion of control reasons give us.

To me, how this manifested was a desire to expunge all the emotions. They obviously caused problems, so it made sense to want to get rid of them. I thought of them as a water well containing nothing but poison stored there from all the past pains in my life. So I tried to ‘get it out’ as much as possible, whether it be via counseling, venting, punching pillows, or even meditation and trying to transform myself in that manner. Eventually, things would be ‘clear’ and I would be more ‘balanced’. Of course, things didn’t work that way, because implicit in all these actions was a fundamental lack of love for those emotions â???? which creates even more negative emotions to vent. The perception that there was something wrong with me created more problems. The never-ending process continued. Thinking there was something wrong with me because I had pain simply created more pain.

A different way of looking at them instead is what was channeled to me recently.

At this time, perhaps you would like to think of your emotions, instead of something you need to get out and express, think of them as art, as a creation that you are constantly perfecting. They’re not finished yet, but you see their beauty in whatever state of creation they are in. You don’t need to share it even, because they are so beautiful. Bring this creation, all the beautiful colors that you know, and all the love you have inside you, for you love this creation. It is the most beautiful creation you have ever made, and you derive great satisfaction from the process of creating it. Take your time. Use visuals if that helps. Look around you. Find elements of what you see that perhaps might be included in this creation of yours. You will know it when you see it – anything that needs to be included. Have fun with this process, for it is yours. It is the first thing that’s truly belonged to you.

This brought up much tears in me, because it went to the heart of who I am: an expressive person with an intense of love of beauty and art. And if I do not see myself as a work of art, then of course there will be a lack of love for Self. Corresponding to this was indeed a visual image of moving and surreal color, much like the movie ‘What Dreams May Come.’ We see art and beauty in Van Gogh, Dali, or other artists who express darkness or ‘craziness’. After all, it’s on the page and there are skills involved. However, there is an implicit dismissal of the skill involved in simply allowing emotions to come to fruition and expressiveness in this society. There is tremendous skill in this. We see this in movies, on the stage, of an actor being very true with emotions, but it is easy to discount this in ourselves. This is not the same as being able to pick the right words and expression of them. It lies simply in being those emotions, in allowing them fully.

 

 

As I reach new levels of allowing of my emotions, I’m encountering vastly new perceptions of my life and my past, and even hidden memories. Finally remembering who crawled into my bed at night, the helplessness, shame, impotent kicking, and a split of consciousness that persisted into adulthood. There are, of course, many emotions connected to this journey, much like any prisoner might feel after coming into sunlight after thinking a cell block was home for many years. There is frustration, there is helplessness, and yes, there is self-hatred. I’m finding this isn’t a contradiction in any way to loving myself. It has its own beauty; a disconnected aspect of myself that’s screaming from years of being walled away. There is beauty in goth designs, and there is intense beauty in these emotions as well. They are a valid journey home.

Love, especially for ourselves, isn’t a thing or something to gain, or anything to ingrain into our minds through writing a million affirmations or reading thousands of blogs. It’s a perception – an awareness. Shifting how we look at something, especially ourselves, creates transformations. In fact, every transformation is precisely a change in perception. There is nothing but this, because there is perfection in everything, including intense pain. In the case of emotions, my experiences have created a subtle yet powerful difference in my experience in them. There is wonder in these emotions, simply as an expression of what is. The simply perception of beauty in utter vividness is, in the present moment, more loving than a thousand affirmations.

 

17 10, 2007

Joy at all times

October 17th, 2007|emotions, love|21 Comments

Joy is a seemingly elusive and ephemeral quality in this day and age. So many daily actions are justified with a reasoning process involving a search for this distant state. Relationships, career seeking, and nights on the town often have this expectation, along with a corresponding anger and disappointment when joy is not found in them. Despair can appear when life’s circumstances appear to offer no possibility for joy. But what exactly is joy?

It is easy to label joy as a simple emotion, but it is far more encompassing than that. For instance, most people would not entertain the possibility of feeling joy and pain at the same time, and yet this occurs every moment of every day. It occurs sometimes for those suffering from a fatal disease, and it did occur in rare cases even amidst the horrors of concentration camps. So joy is not mutually exclusive from any experience.

In fact, there is a very common idea that one cannot feel joy and pain at the same time – or a combination of joy and other emotions such as grief, remorse, anger, terror, or rage. It is this preconception, seemingly paradoxically, that largely blocks people from joy. With this pre-decision already made, there are myriad circumstances justifying why joy is in the future, not now. Emotions exist that preclude joy, therefore work must be taken to resolve them. Financial stability must be attained to avoid fear, counselling must be sought to transform ‘negative emotions’, and a good stable relationship must exist for joy to be “won”. All of this, of course, is a never ending battle. Joy is not in the present moment, but always over that next hill, until the hills become mountains.

And yet, there is always the possibility for joy to intrude under any circumstance:

A common example would be someone caught in the elements. During a long walk home one day from a work event, a freak thunderstorm occurs. You are dressed formally and are first miserable because of your concern and disappointment of the effect the rain will have on your clothes. You rage at your helplessness in the face of the weather. You start to feel cold and are afraid you will get sick. You are filled with thoughts and emotions of what an awful experience this is.

And yet, in a blink of a moment it doesn’t matter any more. Like a child, you start giggling and dancing in the rain. A sudden feeling of exhilaration takes over you, and you skip and jump, splashing water left and right, and even jumping in the biggest puddle on the street to make a huge splash. The concern over clothes and the cold has not disappeared, but it has started to coexist with a quality of joy.

Did the rain cause this joy? Of course not. This joy was always there; it was simply that the rain gave you an opportunity to surrender completely to your experience. In this surrendering, you found a state of allowing of exactly what was going on in the present moment, and through this, innocence and joy.

Joy can indeed coexist with all experiences. There can be a joy in getting angry at someone who crosses healthy boundaries; it is not that you are enjoying punishing someone, but you are enjoying stating firmly what you want. The anger is part of your completeness. (See the post on The Innocence of Anger for further explanation). There can be joys in intimacies, or joys in surrendering to the experience of isolation and loneliness that comes from a relationship ending. Many great works of art have been created from this heightened state. Joy at its root is simply a state of surrender, of allowing. And because it is this, which is available at all times, there is no experience you can possibly imagine that has no room for joy in the midst of it. Some experiences take more surrender to reach that place, but this does not mean no joy is there. It simply means there is a lack of trust. Surrendering to the experience of a fatal disease requires tremendous trust, and this society is built on distrust. However, the potential is absolutely there even in such painful times.

There is, of course, a spectrum of joy, which relates to the experience of surrender and Love. The following spectrum shows a range of joys, from the most simple to the most all-encompassing.

Experience of Joy  
Survival; a contentment at being able to feel and breathe spectrum
Connecting with others like you; a joy of basic community and being a part of something greater than you.
The joy of making an impact. Revelling in your desires without shame or control.
The joy of intimacy. Vulnerability and exchange, a truly opening experience.
The joy of childlike play. The world is full of innocence and wonder and there is freedom and communion with others in every moment.
The joy of awareness. The deep nature of interconnectedness with all beings is felt, and the joy shifts to simply being.
The joy of oneness. There is no longer any separation to experience, and thus all ‘problems’ are not seen as such, but simply as expressions of Love.

 

All of these states build on each other in greater allowing. Each level encompasses the previous one, without anything denied – so if you are not appreciating basic breathing and feeling alive, it will be impossible to appreciate community or intimacy. These states are available in every single moment in our lives, of course. From the most mundane office meeting to the most passionate lovemaking, and even to the most excruciating pain, there is a joy underlying the experience that simply is waiting to be surrendered to. This joy does not take away the experience, but provides support and awareness of it. Pain still exists in the midst of joy, but it becomes something to witness rather than be lost in.

It takes great courage to find this level of surrender even in the most trying circumstances. It requires diving off the cliff of being certain about the meaning attached to your experience, and into the unknown. Joy of course, is unknown, because it cannot be encapsulated by labels. It is beyond reason, beyond anything but the surrender of yourself to the state of not knowing – simply experiencing and allowing. And because this is all it is â???? the never ending flight that comes from taking that step off the cliff â???? it is available in every moment.

If you’ve enjoyed this, other posts you may also like include The Allowing of Pain (with a similar spectrum shown for it), and a previous post of a Table of Emotions – Allowing and Blocking states. And if you want to receive in your mailbox, please Subscribe to Loving Awareness by Email.

Consider this an invitation to joy. Breathe with us, Now, and enjoy it.

30 09, 2007

Being present with emotions

September 30th, 2007|allowing, emotions, wholeness|3 Comments

Emotions are somewhat of a problem for the vast majority of people in this culture. They can be very pleasurable in the initial rush of love in relationships or in successes in sports and the workplace, but for the most part ‘painful’ or ‘messy’ emotions are thought of as something to avoid or fix. Many, many people have gone to counseling because at the root they see their emotions as a problem and thus think they have issues to resolve.

I personally love emotions. I love them for the huge gift of perceptions they bring, being a measure of dynamics happening externally. I love them for the self-knowledge they bring. But most of all I love them because inviting them in, fully, in their totality, brings such a vivid sense of aliveness that is not possible without them.

Simply put, there are no â??˜problems’ with any emotions. The only problem is our own judgment, the perception of separation that divides parts of ourselves into â??˜good’ and â??˜bad’. This categorization has a strong influence in every experience of emotion.

I’ve written before about related topics, so for further reference you can look at The Allowing of Pain and Negativity and a table of emotions.

To look in detail at something, let’s look on a basic personal characteristic that is treated with suspicion and often repressed: the quality of aggression. It is recognized, truthfully so, that aggression can cause conflicts, crossing of boundaries, and a fundamental lack of listening. And yet this is only one aspect of aggression, an aspect fundamentally based in the perception of differences and separation. Someone mired in this state views others as unconnected to themselves, and therefore an enemy. This is always accompanied by a deep division in the self, where there is some denial of huge swaths of one’s being. Although this is all too common, it is actually not a natural state. Looking into nature and its purity, it is easy to find examples which are not based at all in separateness, but rather of following the natural way each creature is meant to be. Spending time watching tigers or black panthers in the wild gives a wonderful example of this. Their aggression is a thing of beauty, and harmonious.

My totem animal!

 

Within people, when aggression is allowed to its full fruition – without any perception of separateness – there is never any possibility for war because there is no one ‘out there’ to make war with. Perhaps a better word for the state is dynamism. Dynamism is itself part of the spectrum of aggression, a great expansion of energy which includes and brings others together for a purpose. It inspires and provides a basis for positive change in the world.? Dynamism includes all the aspects of aggression mentioned above, but is not at all based in conflict, so the same energy that is used for conflict in one case is used for creation and beauty. 

?A wonderful example of this state is the spiritual teacher Krishnamurthi. There was a strong outward force around him which was joyful to be around, much like watching a panther in the wild.

All emotions â???? and personal characteristics – have this dichotomy. When blocked and based in the division of right and wrong, ‘me’ and ‘not me’, any emotion can create conflict. When fully allowed to the degree where there is no control and no judgment, there is a transforming that occurs to move us into the potential of the experience of that emotion. This will always be a movement towards love of self and others. Allowing always creates a space for this transformation and movement. All too often, there is a desire to take action to transform emotions into something â??˜better’. At its roots this is a non-acceptance of emotions as they are occurring in the present moment. Any action based on non-acceptance is likely to perpetuate that state.

Saying ‘we are complete and perfect just as we are’ is not an empty statement, nor is it based in a positivity that is about avoiding focusing on ‘negative things’ – though it has often been used for this purpose. It is a statement of fact. As we learn greater experience of allowing, we also gain more direct experience of this completeness. And thus, joy begins to be a regular occurrence.

23 09, 2007

the prison of emotional denial

September 23rd, 2007|emotions, love, pain, relationships, wholeness|12 Comments

These last two weeks I’ve been witness to a few rather emotional discussions. Which is not at all unusual for me. However, in these weeks I’ve also been seeing how much push there is to suppress emotion in them – even for discussions of an inherently emotional nature. This kind of reaction seems to be pervasive in our culture. As a society, we’re extremely uncomfortable with emotion, and this shows up in a lack of appreciation of simply allowing it. To take an example, say there’s a conflict between two people you know and like. There are no ‘easy’ solutions in such a situation. Both of them usually have valid perspectives, which are linked to their own emotions, who they are, and their own boundaries. It’s easy to get alienated from such situations because there’s no ‘right’ answer, no “good side”, and it’s easy to feel trapped between the opposing forces. Aligning yourself with one side usually generates more problems. Emotions, therefore, are something best to avoid. At least so many thoughts go.

If we look deeply at the mechanism of suppressing emotions, it’s easy to see why. Who we are, which includes emotions, is actually extremely flexible â???? we can do almost anything we want to ourselves. We can develop ourselves to be almost anything desired, but we can also push emotions, memories, and thoughts away from sight and try to squish them into nothingness. Our training in this culture involving doing such things almost from day one. However â???? and this is the root of almost all ‘problems’ â???? we cannot truly disconnect ourselves from ourselves. There is no way to cut off and discard any disliked portion of ourselves. There is truly no escape from who we are. We can try to surgically disconnect a painful emotion, and we get a reasonable facsimile of this disconnection. But it will not be a true disconnect. Any emotion we’ve tried to shove away is always there, waiting to come back, and in fact pulling on us in every moment.

For the visually minded, I liken this process to a great white elastic band. We can stuff part of ourselves in a box, bury it, and walk away, but we’ll have that ‘pull’ from it. It will exert pressure on us in every single moment, bringing attention to it. The farther we push it away, the more pull there will be. This is why the elastic band image helps. This pull isn’t a harsh ‘you must deal with it’ one, but rather a force of nature that simply wants us to be in wholeness, bringing us back to our greater Self. This elastic can be influenced by others, too â???? if someone else walks through the area of the denied connection, what occurs is the elastic force snapping back, similar to a real elastic band. This is another description of what ‘triggering’ is.

Now in almost everyone there is not just one such pocket of emotion buried and abandoned, but multitudes. Each one exerts this pull back. Try to imagine how that would feel with real elastic bands. Because of the constant pull in many conflicting directions, there’s very little freedom to move in any direction. A little movement can be made, but even small can movements pull against hidden emotion which will then pull back, producing an emotional reaction in response. This can generates fear of any emotional movement at all. Most people are quite literally trapped in a static place by buried emotions. In such a place, life is filled with emotional minefields and geysers waiting to erupt. Words must be watched and controlled in every moment. Walls and wired fences mark off areas where unwanted emotions lie fallow.

inside a prison

Now imagine on top of this picture that you are close with someone else, who also has a huge amount of buried emotions. It would be very easy to get a reaction in that person if you tried to move through any of their “elastic bands”. So in most relationships, there is a general, unspoken agreement for both parties to act in such a way that no one will be triggered. The initial rush of being ‘in love’ at the beginning is usually the time such agreements are formed. It’s quite natural, of course; being triggered is not enjoyable to anyone, and it is normal to demonstrate you’re not going to trigger pain to someone you love. However, this restricts motion even further. After some time, there’s often a realization of how emotionally static such a posture is. This is when relationship questioning happens. It can either lead to greater freedom if both sides are open to questioning or to the end of a relationship if one person blames the other for opening up emotional cans of worms. There was an unspoken agreement, after all!

These unspoken agreements are actually pervasive in all aspects of our society. Social groups often have a number of these. To see this, try to imagine you showing the raw spectrum of an intense emotion without filtering (and without blaming others) to a group you’re part of. If you feel that this would cause a lot of alienation, or you simply cannot even imagine it, that is a sign of unspoken agreements. In such cases, someone not acting in accord with these agreements are the vast majority of the time thought of as ‘the problem’. To someone in a prison, those outside of it can indeed be a problem! Unfortunately, the label of ‘the problem’ sticks far too often to anyone with even a little self-doubt, encouraging further denial of emotions. And thus the cycle continues

The road less travelled, of course, is simply to not push away any emotion that occurs. This applies to both emotions within and emotions in others. Without the network of opposing forces described above, an incredible amount of freedom begins to take root. There are no longer any self-created chains rooting you to a particular emotional landscape. At first this is terrifying, but as the infinite amount of choices now available are gotten used to, the dance of freedom truly begins.

Of course, it takes a good deal of time to reincorporate denied aspects of ourselves back into the fold. Try to imagine trying to rush this process and having many of these elastic forces snap back all at once! It takes gentleness and patience. Nevertheless, each part of Self allowed back into a space of wholeness always adds to your sense of freedom, and brings a greater strength for any further challenges. This is the path of wholeness. When the freedom and joy of this is seen, then there is no need to even try for disconnections from Self. For we are complete, just as we are.

28 08, 2007

beliefs … a new perspective

August 28th, 2007|allowing, beliefs, bigness, emotions, love, positivity, transformation, wholeness|0 Comments

More material to be in the book “Loving Awareness”.


In the self-help community, there is much emphasis on how you need to change your beliefs to change your life.? “Change your thoughts, change your life!” is a maxim of Wayne Dyer.? ?Beliefs are how we interpret the world – every one of our experiences is filtered through our beliefs.? This is why ten different people coming from different backgrounds can have fundamental differences of interpretation of the same event – the jury system in the courts gives regular examples of this!? So changing beliefs can indeed have a powerful impact on lives.? However, most people think of a belief simply as a pattern of thoughts, and it is far more than this.? So what are beliefs, if we look deeply at them?

?

In the western cultural framework, we tend to think everything is intellectual.? We’re a society that usually values intellect above all.? So when we talk about “mind” we generally refer only to thoughts and leave the emotions and the body divorced from the equation.? Not so in many oriental traditions.? The word “mind” in those cultures encompasses all of the mental, emotional, and physical parts of ourselves. ?From these perspectives, we are a fully integrated system, with every part of ourselves affecting any other.? When there is recognition of this, there is more possibility of transformative changes occurring within ourselves.? Thinking it is only our thoughts that affect us and denying the real effect the body and the emotions have upon our thoughts and each other can easily lead to mind games, with no changes resulting, and thinking that all that it is needed is more effort in doing the same thing that hasn’t worked in the past.?

?

Now, on this expanded field of who we are, beliefs exists everywhere in who we are, even outside thoughts.? In a real way, they are analogous to habits â???? a pattern that repeats in how we process information .? I liken them to rivers across the continent that is the Self.? Over time, trenches and canals appear that are the result of the water flowing in a certain pattern.? There is then a tendency to continue on the same course (whether in thoughts, body movements, or emotions), but any of them can be changed with consistent effort.? If dams have been constructed, blocking the flow, there will be alternate ways things flows.? Many of these can cause more harm than good, of course, but our bodies are quite adaptable – within reason.? There’s actually a lot of similarities between the “flows” of our emotions, thoughts, and body processes.? For instance, an emotional memory might cause someone to feel anger and disappointment when someone doesn’t look them in the eye.? This “gut reaction” occurs without thought.? Similarly, a sound of a traffic accident might cause adrenaline in someone and they’d jump up to run outside, without thought or much emotion.?


Because we’re a complete system, it’s all interrelated.? For example, a man may have fixed thoughts about how a woman “should behave” in a relationship.? These thoughts may be a protective layer around a core pain in the body relating to abuse by a mother-figure in childhood; in this abuse there would be both emotional pain and body memories.? Now, trying to change the thought patterns of this man will likely run up against a brick wall because it’s only addressing thoughts.? This wall of course, is perfect â???? the thoughts are self-protective, and there is definitely pain that needs protecting, for it isn’t appropriate to bring up just anywhere or with anyone.? This isn’t to say changing thoughts is pointless; it creates ripples which may create a domino effect in other parts of the system.? But thoughts aren’t the master control of it all, especially when there’s not much consciousness in them.? We’re a great tapestry of interweaving energies we call thoughts, emotions, and matter, and we become more adaptable and powerful when we work with this whole, rather than a smaller part of ourselves.

?

So then how to do this work in this quagmire?? The answer – which will be familiar to regular readers – is via allowing.? We’re not like machines that break and then require a mechanic to go in and fix. We’re constantly healing and balancing simply by being who we are, in every moment of every day.? Most alternative healing recognizes this and tries to support the body’s natural strength instead of imposing harsh chemicals, for example.? If everything’s out on the table – and everything includes thoughts, emotions, and the body â???? it’s quite a change provoking event in itself.? Anyone who’s been a witness to a person being deeply vulnerable cannot help but be affected by the experience.? Once the full wholeness of self is brought forward, there is a space of creation in that present moment that literally enables new worlds to be created.? These are worlds forced on your body by ramming affirmations inwardly; this is a process of mutual creation, and thus, a process of Love.

?

To put this in action, here’s an exercise I wrote:

?


Exercise

 


This exercise is about being big about whatever process is going on in the moment, in ways that encompass the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of ourselves.? To be precise about being big, here is my definition:

?

Being big is about bringing the full totality of who you are to the world.? It has nothing to do with being loud, or pushing others, or speaking inspired thoughts.? You can be big no matter what your experiences in the present moment are.

?

For instance, someone desperately angry might be very loud and attempt others to change.? They would feel small to others, because they are not showing vulnerability about where this emotion is coming from.? On the other hand, others might be feeling worthless, full of condemning thoughts and not feel like they deserve to take any space around them.? They might be very shy and quiet.? Bringing that forward, in its totality, without any apology or protective face, would be big.? They might tell others they need to express this, then crawl into a corner, crunch themselves into fetal position, and mumble the thoughts they are having.? So long as they bring the full totality of who they are â???? which includes the knowing that this is only an experience and not defining in any way – they are big.? They are showing they are bigger than their own experience.? This is vastness.

?

So the exercise is to be big.? Bring whatever it is going on in its totality and express it.? If you need to scream, scream.? If you need to crawl into a fetal position in the deepest corner of your garage, do so.? If you need to hit pillows, do that.? But do it from a space of allowing.? Allow emotions to flow, whether through written words on the page, wordless sounds, or through the voice.? Let it come through your body; place your body in a position that encapsulates your experience.? Let thoughts ramble forth from your mind.? But above all, allow all this from a place of play.? Be a child again.? This is through a choice to let it all come forward, laughing at yourself from the dual perspective of seeing how whole you truly are while allowing all the “imperfections” come forward. ?You know that this is not defining you, and yet it is just perfect the way it is. ?If you can’t inhabit that space, allow whatever you can.? The point isn’t to change anything in this moment, but to allow it and give full expression without judgment or control.

?

The magic of fully allowing is that it transforms.? If you are fully you in one moment, there is no limit to what you can be in the next moment.? It’s amazing how someone’s experience changes by the end of the exercise, especially if there’s someone you trust watching, which is encouraged!?

?

Beliefs permeate the being on every level.? Transformation can manifest through altering one level or another of perception, and it is possible to alter beliefs within the space of an eye blink, thereby creating irrevocable transformations that reverberate through all levels of the Self.? And it is true also that transformation within the Self will create transformation within a wider space known as a family, a community, a world, or a universe, or all of them – for they are all essentially the same.? For this, then, we can change the phrase into “change your thoughts, change the world”.