In one of the last posts, we explored how to live in the present moment. We looked at how strong emotions can be used to come to the present moment. By taking attention to how you feel, you bring the attention from thoughts of what will happen or what I should have done to how you feel now. The feeling is always in the present moment, while worries and regrets are about the past and future. By taking the role of the observer, one can sever the link between thought and emotion.
One important step that can take the practice further is to merge with the emotion. How to do it?
When we catch ourselves worrying or being anxious or stuck in regret, we bring our attention to the way we feel. Thoughts automatically subside when we do this. Then, we establish ourselves as the watcher of the feeling. This means we are at a distance from it and safe. This is the first step. In the second step, we begin to go toward the emotion. That is to say, instead of keeping the emotion far away from ourselves, we bring it to us – or more accurately we bring it to the place at which we stand. This is hard to explain. This is not a visual exercise, but rather a feeling exercise.
When we take our stand as the awareness that perceives the emotion, there is a natural distancing from the emotion. This is indeed an important step, for it tells us we are separate from the emotion and therefore safe. However, in most cases, the emotion continues to persist despite taking our stance as the independent observer. This is because of the subtle resistance which comes naturally in standing aloof and therefore away from the emotion. When we go towards the emotion, we are truly fearless. We are adventurers who want to explore and understand the texture of the emotion fully. How does it feel? What is it made of? This curious approach helps us merge with the emotion.
And this is the paradox. When we merge with emotion, it dissolves into nothingness. Or more precisely, into the awareness that we are. All that exists in the emotion is the awareness of it. And when we go towards it, we realize that the emotion is made up of awareness. We cannot truly know something outside our awareness. All we know is in awareness and made of awareness. This feeling – understanding dissolves the emotion.
Understand that our emotions are deeply encoded patterns of behavior. It takes time to come close, understand and dissolve them. Therefore, we should not be in a hurry to get rid of them. This defeats the purpose of being patient and comfortable with our emotions. Take your time. Go slowly. And over time, you realize you have nothing to fear.