I would like to take a moment to recognize Jennifer’s (complicatedadventure) daughter Amber. Amber took on the establishment at her school and questioned the constitutionality of the school’s policy regarding movement during the pledge of allegiance. Last night, the school district realized the error of its ways and agreed to amend the wording to this policy. Now, whether you agree with Amber or not, I don’t give a shit. The important part is that she got involved and she made a difference. I’m really proud of Amber and Jennifer deserves major props too for encouraging this kind of spirit in her daughter. Go Grrrrrls! Stop by and recognize Amber and Jennifer for their independent thinking (click here)
I promise! After today no more about feelings! LOL!
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Feelings, pt. III: Feelings as Children
“It’s scary as hell to make our self be known, the parts that are unlovable, the parts we don’t love, that no one else will love, that are just too messy, that are unworthy. Yet we’re dying inside to be completely loved and received and forgiven.”
— Jennifer Garcia
Recap time, girls and boys! First, I tried to explain how feelings are different from emotions (click here). Feelings are rooted in the body, waves of energy that we actually experience. Emotions are the stories we attach to these waves: “I am angry,” “She makes me sad,” etc. So, there was this discussion around feelings and emotions and what happens if we practice experiencing the waves as they are, rather than attaching the stories (what I called our personal novelas – soap operas). Finally I discussed what that does to feelings – how being fully present with the feelings acts as a liberating force from the drama of our lives. I consider this something of a miracle, an awakening (click here).
There is another awakening, or miracle: the realization that our feelings are our children. Like real children, some are well behaved: clean, polite, and socially acceptable. Others are little monsters – little diablitos! What happens is we tend to nurture the children we like, give them food, dress them really nice, and pose them so that our neighbors could see them.
The ones we don’t like, we push out into the yard, into the doghouse, with no nourishment and barely dressed to protect against the elements – in the cold. Every once in a while, we might see them, their dirty and hungry faces pressed against the windows, the beginnings of malicious intent in their haunted eyes. Sometimes there is a mutiny and a few of them break in through the windows. Or, we might let a pleasant feeling out to play and a few of the juvenile delinquent feelings rush in uninvited. Our abandoned feelings haunt our dreams and sometimes make horrible noises in the night. One thing is for sure: they will completely sabotage our every attempt to look good to the neighbors.
This is true no matter how hard you fight: the more fences and barbed wire you erect, the more they will plan schemes to disrupt your cozy little life.
Once we begin to settle into who we really are (awakening to our true selves), into our natural state, we are no longer threatened by our feelings and we slowly begin to invite our abandoned children back inside. This is a slow, gradual process, as you open the door of your heart to your exiled children, one by one.
Invite Grief inside and eventually, you are sitting down to dinner with Anger. Having a “Blockbuster Night,” enjoying yourselves. “I’m sorry,” you say. “This was a misunderstanding. I realize now you are my child. I gave birth to you. Come inside, sit by the fire, and have something to eat, mijito. Look! Your bed is right over there and you can stay here.” Initially, your abandoned, bleary-eyed children will not believe what’s going on. Hey! They might even be a little bit teed off, burning holes in the couch and insulting people on the phone.
They will need reassurance: you tell them that they can stay forever, as long as they want. We might say to our anger, “I’m sorry I pushed you away, and I’m really sorry that my father did before me, and my grandfather before that. I’m sorry my entire culture has made you feel that you don’t belong. But now, you are welcome, come on in.”
As soon as you welcome the banished, they are transformed. This is a lesson almost any parent learns. I learned it with my own son. It seemed that whenever I was busy with work, or on the phone, as a young boy my son would suddenly decide he wanted me to get him something or to play with him. If I pushed him away, he would become more demanding. But then I learned that if brought him close to me, his seemingly all-consuming need would quickly disappear. His real longing was for attention, and once that need was fulfilled, all else receded to the background.
And so it is with feelings: when we are fully present with them as they arise, and draw them close to us when they seek our attention, their agenda is upset, and the cycle of drama is upended. Here’s an even better recap on this series on feelings:
They are embraced
They pass again…
… and we are free o be spacious and empty, and to be available to life and connected to the world.
Evolving people embrace this process over and over again. It is an awakening and it is our birthright as human beings. The miracle is this: by welcoming feelings, we can transform them. For example, Anger, when welcomed home, embraced, given a good meal, and clean clothes, becomes authority and power. Sexual desire, when all moral charges are dropped and the fingers of accusation have stopped wagging, becomes our basic life energy, our chi. Having a friendly relationship with grief lets us uncover our depth, the depths of our true selves. Fear reveals excitement and energy, boredom uncovers our desire for meaning. By consciously dropping the “personal novela” — dropping the drama and returning to pure feeling — we begin to discover a great truth: there is no such thing as negative energy. Even the most unwelcome emotional tsunamis, that have been incarcerated and abandoned for lifetimes, which seem capable of destroying us and other people, are transformed into something divine that are accepted and given as gifts.
Let me use anger as an example. At first, I was a little hesitant to let anger out of its cage. I was afraid of what might happen. But this was when I was confusing feeling with reactivity. Anger thrown onto another person without first being deeply felt (embraced) can have disastrous consequences. I learned, with practice, to breathe deeply into the belly and allow it to be just as it is, trusting the knowledge that I can experiment with my Anger, a little bit at a time. Once I felt the raw, savage beauty of anger, I felt a deeper connection to the earth; my body opened and came to life. I learned and experienced that I could feel my anger again and again, each time more deeply. The more I allowed it the deeper the anger took me into myself. Now it can be given as a gift to others and myself. The gift of authority, of waking up, of integrity, speaking truth to power in the face of social injustice.
When Anger is felt and given, free of resistance, it can be received by others as a gift – a blessing.
When I can experience Anger in this way, I am truly conscious when I am teed off. There’s no “personal novela.” It happens BAM!, and then it’s finished, and then I’m back. I give myself permission to get pissed, I ride that wave of anger and then it becomes a gift for whomever I’m pissed with. Once we become willing to disengage the feeling from the drama, there is an immediate liberation. Without a story, whether that story be of victimhood or a wound, there is nothing left to defend, nothing to resist, and we are liberated from the addictive bitterness or niceness as a cure to all that we have repressed.
Genuine love can be ferocious, it can be deeply honest, and it can be a gift in a million different flavors.
When we feel fully, and free ourselves from the shadows of our past, every feeling fully felt, without resistance and freely given, then we express true love. Anything else is just so much cotton candy – sugared air, insubstantial.
I hope you have found something useful in these three different posts on feelings. My hope is that it may have somehow touched something within, motivating you to question the everyday, unthinking, manner we are conditioned to respond to feelings. If we become like an ocean, then a tsunami is merely a ripple on the surface of things. If we stubbornly choose to remain stuck to a narrowly defined sense of ourselves (the ego-driven mini me), then our emotional lives will be forever doomed to resemble natural catastrophes.