He’s dying a slow painful death... they’re not giving him more than a few days...
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-=[ Feelings & Your Personal Novela ]=-
-- Sofia Diaz
I think once you start the process of awakening, you learn how to embrace feelings. As we begin to dissolve rigidly held, or what I call “frozen,” beliefs, we begin to make room for all feelings, both those we perceive as positive and those we have abandoned as negative. Developing the capacity to remain present, fully in this moment with whatever arises, instead of resisting feelings, leads us to a direct and powerful gateway into a deeper love.
First let me clarify what I mean by “feelings.” People often confuse the words feelings and emotions to be synonymous. However, they have quite different roots. I am a huge word fan and sometimes this pays off in ways I would never dream of. Feeling comes from the Old English word, fellen, the physical capacity to experience something as it is. Feeling is one of the five senses, along with sight, hearing, smell, and taste. It is also closely associated with being present and in touch with the sensations in the body. Emotion comes from an Old French word, emovoir, to stir up, to create agitation. Emotion then, creates movement within the mind, or better put, it creates movement within consciousness.
Feeling is passive, a capacity to experience, while emotion is fluid and leads to action and expression. Feelings occur within the here and now-- in the present -- and come in all flavors. If we remain open and receptive to them, they can lead us home to peace, to a deeper love. Emotions usually become attached to a story in time that then leads us into a whirlwind of drama. By assuming that every internal feeling has an outside cause, the purity, power, and mystery of feelings are lost. They become dramatized into a personal soap opera -- what I like to call our personal novellas -- from the Spanish-language TV, over-the-top soap operas.
When every feeling becomes a self-centered emotion referenced as “me, me, me,” it becomes a habit and we react (becoming reactive) instead of settling into the experience. In fact, we can be very emotional without feeling at all. We can also feel in profoundly without becoming lost in the emotion. The truth is, if you practice enough and develop the ability to drop the drama from the feelings, you begin to develop a much greater capacity to feel, and in the process, you become less reactive emotionally.
The woman I quoted above, Sofia Diaz, is a mentor to literally thousands of people, mostly women. She says that feelings are neglected in our culture, dominated by the emphasis on rational thought. She goes on to say, “… If you feel the trees from your belly, it is an entirely different universe than if you think about feeling the trees.” Once you begin to practice, she says, an entire universe reveals itself. A universe you never knew existed before.
Let me try to clarify that a bit. Usually we need to say: “I am angry because of what of so-and-so did.” Most of our energy then goes into changing the individual and very little into what we feel. It is extremely rare for anyone to be willing to feel without logical cause:
“How are you doing?”
“I’m so mad I could kill with my bare hands.”
“My God! Why?”
“No reason, just a wave passing through. Feels great, actually. I love it!”
Imagine how liberating a response like that would be. Imagine being with a feeling as a vibration, like listening to music. If we are honest, we really don’t have a fuckin’ clue about why we are feeling what we feel. Is it really the guy who cut you off? Or was it that funny remark your co-worker made yesterday? Perhaps you’re really angry with your father.
What I am submitting here is that the stories we attach to our feelings are often inaccurate. Like old maps to territories that no longer exist. The more agitated you become the more complicated things get and the further away you are pulled from your actual feelings.
When we remove the drama -- the personal soap opera -- attached to our feelings, the feelings become less distinct, and they begin to defy labeling. Someone reading my daily rants may get angry and see me as a pompous ass possessed by a need to show off my pseudo intellect to the world, for example. Another may attach the story that my posts are motivated by a need to share my experiences and create some form of dialogue. Who’s right?
Let me offer another example that most here will identify with. You are getting ready for a first date. You feel a quickening in your heartbeat, a tightening in your belly. Label it fear, and you have the beginning of one story: I might be rejected. I know I’ll say something stupid. Now, label the same feeling excitement, and spin a different story: Maybe he’s the one. However, if you leave the feeling undefined, and just feel it as a mystery, you will discover that fear and excitement are a hairbreadth apart, separated only by a different story. They easily change into one another.
Try this the next time you feel afraid. Ask yourself if you know, for sure, that what you are feeling is fear. Could it be equally labeled excitement? Can you leave it without any label at all? The same is true of grief and gratitude. The next time you feel deep grief, see if it is possible (just for a moment dammit!), to feel it more deeply while thinking less about why. Then look around at anything, a flower, a color, a bird, and see if your tears are only of regret or also of thanks. Fear, and excitement, grief and gratitude, anger and power, sadness and vulnerability: they are all separated from one another when we make them into an emotional drama, but they become one when we feel them as pure energy.
This is the first miracle when we awake: the more deeply we feel -- the more present we are – the more at peace we become, and the simpler outer situations become. When we become less of a knee-jerk responder, we can give the gift of a pure response to a situation instead merely reacting to it. We can express what we are feeling in tune with the present moment. In this way, grief or anger or overwhelming affection can all be gifts to enhance the world, to bring it more color, more aliveness. Feelings become a generosity of spirit.