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Navigating Stormy Emotional Seas

by Kino MacGregor

Emotional vulnerability seems to snowball at all the most inappropriate moments. When you’re feeling down the most insignificant comment can send you deeper into the darkness. On days when you feel torn open by life, your heart is raw, exposed, and injured. In this space everything hurts. Is it just chance and coincidence that dishes up misery for no reason or is there some hidden cosmic force that answers to a pecking order higher than your melancholic feelings?

I find myself constantly at odds with the ever-changing screen of my own own feelings. They get hurt too easily when I least expect it only to toughen at moments when softness would better solve the snag. On a good day the years of yoga and the spiritual life pay off in the form of emotional distance, higher perspective and grace. On other days there is the all too familiar taste of sensitivity and reactionary words on my tongue. It would be easy to cast the so-called negative emotions as antagonists to a peaceful life and begin searching for a solution, a quick fix or a lasting medicine to correct the problem. However, starting a war with your emotional world won’t lead you to a clean, clear mathematical proof for a true answer. For emotions themselves are neither good nor bad, but simply are what they are.

Whenever your thought process holds judgments about what you’re experiencing in the emotional realm, you create patterns of action in your life that hold these emotions around you. For example if you wage a war against sadness with excessive activity, a majority of your life energy nevertheless remains rooted in exactly that which you seek to fight. Similarly if you think that anger is good and can create results in the world, then you will seek to fuel this fiery tempest when it arises. Regardless of how much work you do to train your mind to be in particular way, you cannot control your emotions with brute force. For the emotions belong to the sphere of nature and will arrive in waves and raging torrents in situations where you would otherwise prefer a dry spell. Just as weather patterns change, feelings pass and new ones come to take their place. A more honest parameter for navigating the emotional world is the compass of increased awareness, wisdom and acceptance.

One of the highest perspectives achieved along the spiritual path is an acceptance of the prevalence, persistence and temporal nature of emotions. In this sphere beyond right and wrong, you are the witness to what arises yet not drawn into fighting for or against any particular way of being. Emotions range from strong, heavy and tough to light, airy and free. Your role in steering the ship of your consciousness through the sea of feelings starts with the clear light of objective observation, that is, stopping the fight with yourself and your emotions. Your daily devotion to your practice opens a door to cultivating the kind of higher awareness that will guide you through the maze of your life.

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