Ah. What a sweet life we get to live.
For those of you snarling… bear with me. This one’s for you.
Think for a moment about that last little moment of hatred you shared with someone. ‘I hate that; don’t you hate that?’ Or disgust: ‘Gross.’ Or maybe you unleashed anger at a loved one. Or demanded that someone change for you. Criticized someone. Remember that moment. And then feel it. Feel that feeling? Of that choice you made to give someone a gift you wouldn’t want to receive. Something less than kindness.
How does that really feel to you?
We all do these things. We’re human. We’re relatively new to our potentials of consciousness and we forget all the time that we’re just bundles of energy bumbling around the joint. If you think about it for half a second, you know this. You’ve been in that situation when Mopey McMoperstein shows up and your beautiful day turns sludgy. And you also love when Joy O’Sweetness Sunshine comes around. She always makes you feel good. (Except when she leaves. And then you wonder why with angst and uncertainty.)
Buddha was good and clear when he broke it down: As humans, we suffer. As humans, we have the possibility of waking up. Yoga is clear on the subject too. We suffer our ignorance. When we relieve ourselves of ignorance, we relieve ourselves of suffering. Our ignorance is vast and comprised of all the multitudinous clanging and clatter of matter, but what’s say we part the curtains a touch to see this little gem?
The way your feel is because of your feeling. The way you feel is the result of you feeling the way you’re feeling. The way you feel is because of you.
(The caller is in the house!)
‘No,’ you may say. ‘You don’t know my mother.’ Or, ‘Don’t you read the news?’
(I love your mother for making you and no. Also leave your mother out of this.)
The truth is, while the news always sucks and tragedies around the world are abundant, we have a choice of response. It’s understandable to experience anger and grief but what’s the purpose of holding onto it and becoming a vector? We become angry and, if we don’t recognize that the emotion is transitory in nature, we’re carrying a burden that our structures aren’t meant to bear. Emotions are transitory in nature. They arise and they fall. Holding onto them—whether they are good emotions or bad emotions—leads to suffering. Holding onto emotions is like carrying your packed luggage when the trip is over. Or gripping at clouds. Choose your metaphor, but understand that it’s silly. The emotion is meant to pass. To be unpacked. To fade away.
Which doesn’t mean that emotions don’t impact us. They do. They affect us dearly, and we can be grateful for the lessons. The energy of emotions shifts us. Like the moon affects the tide, the energy of our emotions pulls at our energies and transforms our personal landscapes. It’s imperative that we learn to navigate the new terrain or we continue to fall and fall and fall again.
Know that it’s not about escape. And it’s not ignoring the facts. Your mother may set off alarms in you. And the news may hit you hard. But it’s you who gets to respond appropriately. You have the duty and you have the privilege.
So take a moment when emotions arise. Discover what you’re feeling and feel it more deeply. Watch the feeling. Breathing deeply helps to maintain your attention on the feeling instead of wanting to act out the energy of it. As you watch it, notice how it fades.
You may even try to flip the script. Think opposites. Turn it upside down. In yoga philosophy, this is called pratipaksha bhavanam. I like to call this the most challenging inversion you’re scared to try.
It goes like this: If you’re feeling hatred, consider how the person you hate is another human who suffers as you do. Maybe even more. See if you can feel a moment of connection through kindness or compassion. If you’re feeling disgust, see if you can cultivate a sense of wonder for the object you don’t understand. It exists as you do. If you feel anger, cultivate joy. If you feel greed, consider generosity. If you’re jealous, try love. Keep working at it. It’s a practice.
The point is, you don’t have to carry the weight of your negative emotions. They weigh you down. They make you want to share them here and there. But please don’t keep passing it along. No one wants to carry your weight in addition to theirs. Everyone has their own freight.
Let’s lighten our own loads so we can help others do the same. Life really is very sweet when you choose to see it that way.