The Energy of EMOTIONS, A Guide to Self- Knowledge
I find in my counseling practice that most people don’t want to experience pain, whether it is physical or emotional pain. So we tend to run from our painful emotions, and only want to experience happy and joyous ones. Therein lies the resistance to the experience of our emotions. But, by avoiding our emotional pain, bigger problems get created because the emotional energy has to go somewhere. Either it gets acted out in more serious ways, or we suppress it, and experience physical problems and/or addictions of various kinds. We also miss out on knowing ourselves at deeper levels of awareness because we are unaware that our emotions are the signals or signposts that point to the depths of who we are. Instead of respecting our emotions, we have been taught that emotions are irrational, frivolous, petty and meaningless. So you ask, what can we do?
I like to use a technique I call The Aikido of Emotion. The premise of the martial art form of Aikido is to practice yielding to the opponent instead of using your force against him/her. It is the practice of non-resistance. If we apply this philosophy to our emotions, which at times we might think of as our opponent, then what we want to practice is the art of non-resistance regarding our emotions.
So you ask, how does The Aikido of Emotion work? Imagine you are a vessel or container, and inside of you, you contain thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about your life situation or the events and experiences of your life. If who you are is the container of your thoughts and feelings, then you are not the thoughts and feelings that run through you, you just contain them. The thoughts, feelings, and sensations, are energies running through the vessel or container that you are.
I liken emotions to the weather. The sky is always present, like we are as the vessel. The sky is space that contains the sun, moon, planets, stars, etc. The weather comes in and goes out, changes and fluctuates all the time, and the sky contains the weather which is the content. Notice how thoughts, feelings and sensations come and go all the time. They are not steady or constant. So when we resist these energies that are trying to move through us, like the weather, the effect is that they get stuck. They cannot move through. Have you ever heard the saying, what you resist persists?
Here is an exercise for you. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Now breathe and let yourself notice your hands. Feel your hands with all your attention. What do you notice? I’ll bet you notice some feelings or sensations in your hands that you would not have been aware of had you not focused your attention there.
Now practice being the vessel or container. Sit again with your eyes closed and feel yourself as the container (empty space or a hollow tube). Now as the container, notice what is present in your experience. Notice the thoughts that are rising and falling in the mind. What do you notice in the body? What sensations or feelings are present? Focus your awareness and attention on a physical sensation or feeling in the body. Notice how it feels. Allow yourself to feel it completely, and give it permission to be there without any resistance or judgment. Allow yourself as the container to expand to include whatever the experience is in your awareness, and allow it to be there. What is happening in your experience?
Most people notice some kind of a shift in the intensity or quality of the content, or what is being contained. With practice, it will get easier and easier to contain more intense content such as anger or rage. My clients are always surprised to find that even an emotion as intense as rage can be contained and not acted on. So another way to say it is, who you are is the context (the sky) and the thoughts, feelings and sensations are the content (the weather).
We have been culturally biased against our emotions for thousands of years. Emotions tend to be defined as ‘feminine’ which is not true since both males and females have feelings and emotions. Emotional content cannot be controlled as the weather cannot be controlled. So in order to be in harmony with our true Selves, we need to learn to work with our emotions, so we can deepen our awareness and experience of who we truly are. Some say emotions are the doorway to the soul, which I have found to be a true statement.
Emotions themselves are not the truth. Emotions are a response to the deeper truths within us. They show us things that are hidden, or under the surface as in the sub-conscious. They point to our unattended needs, wounds, thwarted desires and passions that are yearning and sometimes screaming to be seen and quenched. Emotions reflect our soul’s issues in our heart of hearts. If we listen and follow the reflection to the source, we can learn who we are.
I see the practice of The Aikido of Emotion as a spiritual practice that deepens our awareness of inner truth. Jesus, and many saints and sages over time have professed, “Know thy self.” Have fun getting to know your true Self. I wish for you the best that life has to offer!
If you’d like to experience The Aikido of Emotion first-hand, I’ll be presenting it at The Human Potential Center this coming Wednesday evening. Here’s the link. Hope you can attend!