For the first 30 years of my life, feeling true emotion was taboo. In retrospect, I realize that I functioned this way because emotions were not safe. I turned them off for a reason, I could not survive what I was feeling, and so God knows it was not safe to turn them back on. If someone had asked me about this way of functioning at the time, I would have said I had lots of feelings, but would internally recognize that they were getting way too close for comfort, because they were confronting the denial of my feelings, which really is a denial of me.
When I began a two year training for sacred healers, I had no choice but to begin looking at my emotions. I had already been on the path for 11 years, but had plastered fanatical Catholicism onto an Indian spiritual teacher, quite an interesting combination which kept me incessantly striving for perfection. You also need to know, that there wasn't a chance in hell that I'd be looking at my emotions unless I was doing it for God, you know to be spiritual. As I was working in this training for sacred healers, emotions were distilled down to four choices: mad, sad, glad, and scared. When asked what I was feeling, I had the darnedest time figuring out which one of those four choices I was feeling. It was like I was a stranger in a foreign land with a foreign language, which in fact I was. The teacher also showed me how my self-judgment narrowed my range of "acceptable" emotions. She said when I was mad, I was bad, when I was scared, I was weak, and I didn't deserve to be glad so this left me being sad. It's a wonder I wasn't depressed, and this allows me to understand with a compassionate heart why so much of humanity is on anti-depressants.
I recently found a wonderful book by Stephen and Donna Be, Feeling Your Way Along - Using Your Emotions as a Pathway to Enlightenment. This book gives a list of "emotion words" 8 pages long with 4 columns per page. This is a far cry from mad, sad, glad and scared. The authors liken our consciousness to a pyramid, with each of the sides representing one of the four aspects of our being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Our level of consciousness is determined by the aspect of our being that is least developed. If you look at our culture, it is evident that we receive much physical and mental training, some spiritual training in the form of religion, and next to no emotional training. As I found for myself, if you try to pursue higher levels of spirituality and you keep getting hung up, your emotions are a good place to look. Feeling your emotions is the only way to reclaim your sanity and spirituality in a world gone insane and secular. This may however be easier said than done if you don't have the tools and the dedication.
Many years and many many layers of emotions later, I have come to a crossroads. Now, I have come to know myself better and as I work more deeply within myself, deeper levels of feeling arise. The higher I go (meaning feeling things I love), the deeper I must go (meaning feeling old neglected pains). The two things go hand in hand. If I don't let myself feel the things that hurt, I can't feel the incredible energy of God/Goddess/All That Is. Immersing myself in the presence of All That Is reveals to me the next layer of emotion that I must move through. My quandary is how to use the power of All That Is, to move through painful emotions quickly and easily without going into denial. It is soooooooooooooooooooo easy to deny emotions, especially in the early stages of coming to know yourself, but do we have to gruel through them, or can we use the Source to lift us up and through them without denial?
I have had conversations with close friends about this, and have come to the conclusion, that when the feelings are there and they are "kicking my butt", I will have them, process them, while honoring every perspective that they bring to me. Intellectually, I will know the power of who I am, even though I may not be able to feel it at the time. My intention though, will be to anchor from my heart to the heavens and draw upon the Source that will assist me in flowing through everything in my life. This anchor brings a kind of detachment that lessens the anguish of even the most painful drama. Even though this may be a bit intellectual at this time, my life is transforming from a function to a flow, which allows full expression and acceptance!
If you need assistance in honoring and working with your emotions so you can create more of what you want in your life, please join us in the next Opalescent Workshop - Embracing Emotions as Your Greatest Treasure. Your emotional terrain need not be an enigma, a terror, or a hardship, once you have the tools to navigate this territory.
- Karen Kuk-Nagle