EMOTIONS ARE THE GATEWAY TO THE SOUL
A client confided in me recently that she could not apply the meditation practice of being in the moment since she felt so angry when she tried it. She was under the common misconception that being present in the moment automatically brings with it an immediate sense of serenity. She felt that she was not doing it right or getting it. I find this to be partly due to the lack of general information regarding the topic, and partly due to the New Age-y idea that meditation is about being in instant nirvana.
The first step in being in the moment is to check in with ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to gaze behind the curtain of our daily shtick: the powerhouse financial whiz, the aloof artist, the engaged political activist, the oozing serenity spiritual aspirant. It is quite easy to confuse the mask with the real, ever-changing energy beneath it. As you are reading this, FEEL your feet on the ground. Be aware of other body parts. Check your shallow breathing and relax your stomach so you can drop your breathing down. Now become aware of your emotional state. It can take a while to do this since our busy lives lead to a state of numbness. It takes effort to actually be aware of how we are feeling.
Back to my client: we sat and talked about what was going on with her that was leading to her anger. As it turned out, she had cleared out an intense amount of caretaking and unhealthy relationship patterns with her family. Now, however, she was butting against the same issues with some close friends she had spent the weekend with. It is common for us to unconsciously keep in play or repeat certain deeply ingrained patterns that we are attempting to break free from. This is a way of pushing away the underlying anxiety when we are in a new terrain, no matter how healthy.
Emotions are sticky stuff, and most of us dance around them by keeping busy from the second we wake up to the time that we lay down to rest. Some of that is done by multitasking the day away. We eat and read or listen to music, or talk on the phone while walking. These actions get in the way of us actually connecting with how we are feeling. But the biggest conspirator is the constant thinking that we partake in all day long. That is the original drug, the first way that we used to dissociate ourselves from reality. Due to all this constant activity, we are actually strangers to ourselves and our inner landscape.
How are the emotions the gateway? They let us know what is going on, how we are on or off track, what needs to be done for us to tend to ourselves. We usually deal with emotions in one of two ways: repress them or act them out. Not to be aware of or just to be stuck in are the two ways; these exclude being aware of what is triggering that emotion. What being in the moment offers us is a third way: to just feel the emotions, and through that action: release them. To get to any place we have to begin with the awareness of where we are starting from.
So out of the New Age and into the Now Age.