The curious thing about being human is the inherent complexity associated with Being. On one hand, we are mind-body creatures with fluid layers of history and emotional fabric that help inform the solidity of our existence. On a deeper level, we are composed of finer, yet more enduring, qualities than reactive thoughts and feelings; we are immutable components of consciousness, individualized aspects of Spirit that can be called soul.
The former aspect is rife with vacillating ups and downs, a whirlwind melodrama of engagement patterns that typically define much of our emotional experiences, many of which are not necessarily desirable. The latter, or soul, part of us is free of negative states, yet it is consistently the part of us we least seek to access, much less hold onto, on a daily basis.
From my perspective as a meditation teacher and spiritual facilitator and life coach, truth is essential in the quest for Self-Realization and, ultimately, a life well lived. But what this truth is and how we engage with it can make all the difference in how we show up emotionally every day — plus how resilient we become over time.
Nature of emotions
Let’s first consider the nature of emotions. I define emotions as the subjective reaction to feelings. Feelings, in turn, are perceptual assessments of what the senses or thoughts detect. In short, feelings are neutral responses to stimuli; emotions are what color these experiences.
For example, if we place our hand over a lit candle, we’ll feel a sensation, label it as pain, and then continue to embellish the scenario with likes, dislikes, attachments, aversions, desires and so forth, until a host of reactive patterns form over time. In this manner, we fashion a symphony of emotional responsiveness to all life experiences.
The world is objective, and our responses to it are subjective. Life happens. How we engage it is our choice and, correspondingly, the key to emotional health and well-being.
Another kind of feeling exists that is not influenced by mind/body but based in the soul. This feeling is rooted in the pure consciousness of Spirit that abides in the heart and manifests as unconditional love, compassion, peace, joy, wisdom, etc. It is free from the reactive like-and-dislike bias born of our identification with the body, aka ego.
When cleaning house emotionally, it behooves us to first assess what we really want, and then we need to pursue the right steps to achieve it.
First, consider that everyone is in pursuit of fulfillment. The journey of life is fundamentally orchestrated to have us seek joy. It is an evolutionary imperative. Unfortunately, we tend to look to the external world for such attainment and subsequently wind up developing the complex medley of reactive patterns that I described earlier.
In short, we canoe down the river of life busily responding to internal prompts for fulfillment, but we do so by searching the shores of materiality for what is innately an internal thing. We look to the river bank when what we want is in our boat. The result is an ongoing hunt for what turns out to be elusive.
During this sojourn, we learn to label what feels good or doesn’t, who we want to be with or don’t, what makes us feel happy, sad, and so forth. As such, we invest tremendous energy perceiving, then trying to govern, outer aspects of life in a vain effort to feel good. In actuality, nothing external can ever lastingly satisfy us.
As souls, beings of Spirit, only the divine can provide us with lasting fulfillment. Thus, the somewhat perverse nature of materiality is to disappoint whenever lasting happiness is sought from it. Most of us don’t realize this until life has clobbered us sufficiently. At that point, we take notice. During our journey, then, we weave rich emotional brocades that clutter our lives with baggage — barnacles on the boat that create drag. When we hit the wall and say, “Enough!” it becomes time to clean house in a truly meaningful way.
But how to do this and what should the results look like?
An inner perspective
The first step involves, again, realizing that emotions are subjective interpretations. We can’t control life events, but we can manage our responses to them.
The second step requires us to disengage from reactivity and reconfigure life from an inner perspective. Reconstruct your place in the universe from that of a physical being whose happiness is gained externally. Recognize this as the cosmic lie that fosters perpetual frustration and a boatload of emotional grievances. Instead, reorient your vision of self to that of a soul being whose completion can only be found in the Sacred.
With these distinctions in mind, learn to discern whatever transpires impartially. See and feel from a neutral perspective, without leaping to entrapping judgment. The mind, like a lake, reflects clearly when calm, but it becomes distorted whenever buffeted by emotional tempests.
Accept that the happiness you seek is part of the soul landscape within you. Learn to tap the subtle attributes of Spirit that abide in the heart and higher astral centers of divine perception. Meditate. When the mind is intentionally stilled and the energies that keep us immersed in worldly experience are reversed, we find doors of intuitive realization open that expose our true and all-fulfilling soul nature.
As we progress in this fashion, it becomes clear that our former entanglements were understandable, yet misguided. They represented efforts to create lasting happiness through untenable means. Again, our essence is joy itself and can only be found within the sanctum of the soul.
Where I’m going with all this is inherently simple: Get understanding. Cleanse the mind and heart of superficial reactions to life, negative or positive, by being rooted in soul wisdom and perception. Only by accessing the unconditional Joy-Love of our true nature can we engage with life purely.
When we shift from the addictive drama of likes, dislikes, blame, desire and judgment to the enduring arena of soul-centeredness, we discard emotional baggage that has limited our capacity for greatest satisfaction. Thus, we learn to live in the world yet not be of it, to love our enemies as our selves, and to return contempt with kindness, and so forth. By living in the sphere of pure feeling born of Spirit, our inner slate is cleansed deeply and permanently. Our sense of self is realigned and able to engage with the world fully, yet freely.
This emotional detoxification program endures and offers ever-increasing benefits the more one adheres to it. Meditate. Seek the Kingdom within. Know the Truth and it will set you free.