Emotions are an intrinsic and inevitable part of being human. You will experience a whole host of feelings, some comfortable and others less so. When it comes to enjoying true emotional freedom and better health, you need to learn how to be at peace with how you feel.
You may notice I didn’t just suggest that you ‘get rid of your negative emotions’. This is because meditation goes beyond managing and controlling emotions to give you the ability to be in harmony with however you happen to feel. With many of us having been raised by adults who were unwilling to experience the whole range of their own emotions, it is rare in my experience, to have been taught to feel emotions fully. We have learned to tone down or turn away from intense feelings that are perceived as problematic.
Taught that some emotions were positive and others negative, we may have been conditioned to avoid the ‘bad’ ones at all costs. This has led to fearing certain feelings and constantly trying to control them, believing that it is somehow wrong to feel bad sometimes.
Two years after I started meditating regularly I went to my spiritual teacher to tell him that I didn’t think the meditation was working. Knowing that it was only my expectations that needed some help, he enquired, “How do you know it isn’t working?” I explained that I was still feeling anxiety. His response was nothing short of mind-blowing as he declared, “Peace is not the absence of emotions.”
At first, my mind couldn’t even compute the statement! Peace is not the absence of emotion? How could I experience peace, if I was feeling anxious? It made no sense at all. However, these seven words became one of the biggest things I’ve learned in my meditation journey.
Without realising, I’d picked up beliefs about what peace would feel like and what had to happen to experience it. Peace had always eluded me because I had assumed it was a state of no emotion. I was experiencing emotions all the time so I felt I was failing somehow at being peaceful. Since exploring the possibility that peace is not the absence of emotions, I’ve discovered that I don’t need to make them go away to experience peace.
Learning how to be at peace with how you feel is achieved by being aware of the consciousness that’s observing your emotions. The more Self-aware you can be – i.e. aware of the aspect of yourself that is aware – the more you directly experience an unconditional calm that is perfect, whole and completely untouched by any temporary feeling.
Here is why. Consciousness is aware of your emotions. Consciousness is already and always peaceful. Therefore, peace is aware of your emotions. I appreciate that you might have invested a huge amount of time, effort and money in the search and acquisition of ‘positive’ emotions, and now here I am suggesting that you don’t need to wait a second more or spend a single penny, because the peace you seek is aware of your mind. Next time you meditate, I recommend playing with being comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Doing so can completely change your relationship with your emotions and lead to true emotional freedom and true peace. sandy will be returning to dublin this autumn to teach meditation at the mind body spirit festival.
This is taken from our autumn 2015 issue, out now. Subscribe to have the next four issues delivered direct to your door.
Sandy will be speaking at The Buddha Bag Meeting this October 27th. Check out the event here>