Written by Sw. Rahasya
Once in a while, existence delivers us experiences which affect us on a huge scale.
Far too much powerful emotion to feel in fullness as it arises. This scale of emotion may arise upon ending a relationship, burying a child, losing a friend, suffering great physical and/or psychological violence or failure in something one is deeply invested in.
It may also arise in response to something which, on surface appearances, should be quite manageable, but powerfully triggers a large chunk of feelings we have been suppressing/containing since childhood – a surfacing of deeply held and protected trauma.
At the moment, we may be overwhelmed and helpless, suddenly finding ourselves immersed in our feelings. We may immediately protect ourselves by going numb, cutting off all feeling, even to the extent of becoming, for a while, quite unresponsive. The self-care equivalent of general anaesthesia.
We may even successfully compartmentalize the emotions and shutter them behind a strong internal wall of denial. Then, depending on how successfull we are with that compartmentalization, we might indulge in self-destructive, strongly distracting or self-soothing behaviours.
Whatever our strategy though, emotions arising on such scales will not be denied.
Even if, perhaps through some immense effort of will, fancy pharmaceuticals or trauma counselling, one manages to suppress, disable, or reframe and bypass what needs to be felt … even on a relatively long-term basis, feelings on such a scale will need expression. Expression … or, in the case of the 90% bulk of humanity, perpetual management.
The 8% with more energy than that will repress their feelings with activity, using the power with which they suppress their feelings to ruthlessly create businesses, obsessively create artworks or fanatically indulge in competition.
And, for those of you I write for, the 2% of humanity who seek truth, individuation, maturity and maybe even transcendence within this lifetime, no suppressive or avoidant techniques, no matter how excellently managed will find a balance. Bottling will always lead to explosion. Diversion will always circle around to directness. So, what to do?
Put simply, here’s what to do:
Use the resources you have and whatever capacity you have gained to feel as much as you can, whenever the opportunity presents.
The more you do this, the more capable of outward stoicism you will become in moments when you need that … but do make a discipline of re-opening your feelings and emotions afterwards.
Excellent healing approaches to trauma exist. Use them as needed, but not more than necessary.
Likewise for medications, be they self-selected or prescribed … but do be careful to avoid what happened to Jordan "Benzo" Peterson.
Above all, go as far as you can toward accepting that you will feel every little thing that this life has available for you to feel.
Encourage (ok, sometimes torture) yourself with the truth that your capacity for the unpleasant and painful is the same as your capacity for the pleasant and delightful … to support your willingness to feel what needs to be felt.
As an aim, an objective, or if you need it, a philosophical position, the Tao te Ching expresses it most cogently.
Please forgive my loose translation:
"Welcome the Low State as a pleasant surprise – and prize/love all calamities as you prize/love your own body."
Or in other words, this poem by Rumi:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
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