Thursday, January 17, 2008

Freedom to Feel

I was told recently by a very intuitive aunt-in-law that I was a highly sensitive person deep down and that I had put up barriers for unknown reasons to protect this sensitive core, which has left me somewhat cut off from my feelings. She told me to open myself up to experience these feeling when they arise instead of trying to keep them buried, so that they too could experience freedom. This was coming on the heels of me experiencing tears of joy during a satsang I attended (see previous blog post). The conversation struck a chord in me and I have been mindful of my feelings since then.

What I have noticed is that I have a tendency to avoid feelings as they arise (especially the ones that might cause tears). In the case of hearing about some tragedy in the world or some other story that might cause sorrow, I use my knowing that everything is innately perfect as a reassurance. However, I think there may be an inclination to hide out behind that knowing instead of actually experiencing these feelings to their fullest.

With all of the tragedy going on in the world today, it seems natural for us to avoid it to a degree, or at least turn off the part of us that might experience it on a personal level. Otherwise, we feel like we will get sucked into the endless drama of the world. However, this too can create a disconnect or resistance toward what is.

Since I have been more aware of feelings lately, I have had a few glimpses of this sensitive inner core that I have been protecting. The triggers have come in the form of a moving song, a news story, and meditation just to name a few. When I start to experience the precursor to tears welling up, something akin to fear steps in to prevent it from fully developing. It may be disguised by thoughts like, “I can’t just start crying for no reason, so and so will worry or think I’m crazy.” But deeper than egoic level fear is a feeling, “I can’t open myself that much because it will open me up to a whole new level of vulnerability so great it could kill me.” Therein lies what I think the fear is truly about. The fear of egoic death. Not just the fear of being free to express feelings over seemingly insignificant things, but the fear of being without the ego’s protection.

Here is a quote that came back to me recently while scanning through some audio clips on my computer. It’s from Adyashanti on a track labeled “What freedom really is.”

“[It is a] myth that [when I’m truly enlightened] I can rest in some assuredness that I will never again feel insecure, or feel fear, or feel doubt, or feel those emotions that we don’t want to feel. Forget it. That’s not it. That’s the pipe dream. That’s the opium that’s sold to the masses. And they eat it up and they never get there, and the end up disillusioned. That’s not how it works. Freedom is never freedom “from.” If it’s freedom “from” anything, it’s not freedom at all. It’s freedom “to.” Are you free enough to be afraid? Are you free enough to feel insecure? Are you free enough not to know? Are you free enough to know that you can’t know? Are you free enough to be totally comfortable, to know that you can’t know what’s around the next corner? How you will feel about it? How you will respond to it? That you literally can’t know? Are you free enough to be totally at ease and comfort with the way things actually are? That’s freedom. The other thing is the ego’s idea of freedom.”

Another audio I listened to recently by Pamela Wilson has several questions from people in the audience regarding how to deal with certain feelings that they considered unpleasant. Pamela likes us to invite those negative feelings into the light of our awareness and find out why they are arising. In one man’s case, who was suffering from grief over a lost relationship, their dialogue eventually lead to the heart of what that feeling truly was about. Below is paraphrased from the essence of that conversation.

“Sorrow and love are the same. How could we feel such sorrow if we weren’t capable of so much love. Sorrow comes to show us the depths of our love. We are caring itself, and always have been. We are love itself, and always have been. We just didn’t realize it. Sorrow just brings love down into the body. It’s funny how in the beginning emotions obscure who we are, then later they can help us realize who we are.”

Behind every seemingly negative emotion is our true loving self, trying to protect our true loving essence from harm. Whether we are feeling anxiety, frustration, or sadness, when you trace those feelings back to their origin you will likely find a defensiveness trying to protect you. Fear is often at the center of it, which triggers that defensiveness to step in with a response that has seemingly worked in the past to protect us. Once we see our “negative” feelings for what they truly are we can embrace those feelings as well. We can thank them for trying to protect us. After all, it’s happening out of love and for love’s sake.
Peace and love,