Emotional Balance

Emotional balance has been unfolding in my life for 50 years.  One of the biggest hurdles has been letting go of the belief that my emotions define me; that I am what I am currently feeling.  I now define emotion as: e-motion = energy in motion.  When I am experiencing a specific emotion, I realize that it is energy moving through my entire being.  It is energy that has been given a name such as happiness, sorrow, anger, etc.  Remembering this helps me release judgement about the nature of that energy.  Energy is energy; it is neither good nor bad; it just is.

As practices for the body and mind (yoga, meditation, healthy eating, exercise, fresh air, loving friends, etc.) have become consistent in my life, my emotions have become more consistent as well.  For the most part, my emotions fit what I am experiencing in the moment.  When each of my parents died, I was deeply sad and grieved.  I was also profoundly grateful that I was with them in their transitions. I was proud to be their daughter. I was also grateful for everything they had given me over the years.  So many emotions flowed during those times and I felt them all. Intense and fulfilling all at once.

In releasing judgement, I view these experiences in terms of intensity.  Seldom is overwhelming happiness described as bad, yet it is every bit as intense as sorrow and can be just as exhausting.  My granddaughter’s birth was so intensely joyful that there were times I didn’t sleep very well.  There were times when I quietly cried for happy.  Intense.

On the other end of the spectrum, I choose not to take in news about things like child abuse because the depth of anger I feel on behalf of these innocents is almost frightening to me.  But is anger always “bad?”  Not in my opinion, because there are many people who have been inspired to acts of bravery because of the anger that arises within them.  Anger and frustration with things I had allowed or created in my life have given me the courage to make very difficult changes.  Intense.

Intensity is seldom comfortable, which is why these energies are judged as bad or unhealthy.  The key, is – guess what? – balance!  It makes more sense to realize that imbalance in the emotional body creates confusion and can be destructive than to set the goal of never feeling these things.  When I feel angry, can I allow myself to be in it in a way that leads me to action, forgiveness or compassion?  If so, I will quickly return to peace and tranquility.  My actions will be appropriate to the situation and to my desire and intention to live lovingly and compassionately.  It is when I avoid and stuff or hide my feelings that my behavior becomes inappropriate and possibly destructive.

Balance is the key. Here are a few reasonable goals:  Feel without being thrown against the wall by the intensity of emotions. Be willing to sit with the discomfort in order to remember that energy in motion does not define me; it is something you are experiencing in the moment.  It will diminish, shift, transform because that is the nature of energy.  Embrace the experience for what it is:  a human experience that does not change or define your True Self, a spiritual being. Be patient and remember that it takes time and maturity to come into this awareness in every aspect of your being: physical, mental, emotional.  You don’t have to change everything at once.  You don’t have to fight yourself and judge yourself.  You do not have to be perfect.  You can be in this moment, experience it, and be all that you are.  You can unfold into True Self as naturally as a healthy tree matures and produces perfect fruit.

One of my favorite responses to myself when I explode into emotional intensity and catch myself in the midst of it is:    Well, Catherine Ann, welcome to the human race!

 

Advertisements

Underneath Anger

One of the things I find underneath anger is fear. Being afraid is one of the most uncomfortable experiences I have had. When I am ignoring or unconscious of my fear, it often manifests s anger. When I step back and examine the anger, I find that it is often with myself. I have created a situation, or stayed in one for too long, that is resulting in someone coming at me in a hostile manner, whether verbal or physical. Even if I am angry about something beyond my personal life, I realize it comes down to something very similar. I am not powerful enough to prevent or change something that is happening. I am not in control; I do not have enough influence. I’m scared.

I do not like being scared so I get angry with myself for not being powerful enough.

At some point, once I have owned my powerlessness, I come to the doorway of surrender. I lean into my spiritual practice and immerse myself in Divine Love. As fear lessens so does anger. Now, I can be more honest. What can I do? Can I love myself enough to leave a relationship, job, or situation that is not healthy for me? Can I become more involved in my community and world, remembering that even small efforts can build into change? Can I spend quality time with people I admire and learn from them? Taking action in even small ways lessens my fear and builds my confidence in myself, in the Divine flow of life.

I can use the anger that was covering my fear to motivate me into different thinking, into positive action. Fear and anger are powerful energies and those energies can be channeled into the courage and strength I need to be a more effective human being. Yes!

A Human Tendency

Have you ever noticed how your mind has a tendency to go to the one thing in your life that worries you or makes you sad? Everything else can be wonderful but you get hung up on that one thing? Welcome to the human race.

So, if it is part of human nature at times to dwell on what makes me sad, then I am given the opportunity to lean into and live from my spiritual nature.

It is a spiritual practice to return over and over again to what I believe is true. The emotion of the moment that creates my discomfort becomes the u-turn sign that points me within. When I turn within, I connect with the Divine, the Source of all life, all love, all peace and contentment. Now I am able to experience contentment even as I acknowledge sadness, worry, fear, etc. I can even have fun!

It is a practice and practicing means to do something over and over until it becomes natural to you. Remember that, even when it becomes natural to you, there will always be the need for consistent use of the practice to maintain your peace and contentment.

Love All Ways.

Everything Is One Thing

Some of my earliest memories are of feeling the Divine Presence in nature. My parents grew up on sheep ranches in northern Nevada and animals were always a part of life for them. My dad joined the Army Air Corp just months before Pearl Harbor so I grew up as the daughter of an Air Force pilot. No sheep though once we had a pig for a while. Dad won the costume contest at one of the base functions and Tojo was the prize! We had dogs and we spent most of our recreational hours outside, whether in the yard or camping by a river.

Last night I was reviewing a journal I started last May. A journal that, for some reason, I set aside about six weeks ago. The intention of this particular journal is to list some things from my day that brought me pleasure or joy, that allowed me to give and/or receive love, things that inspired me. One of the entries struck me so sweetly that I would like to share it with you this morning.

May 29, 2016

Pleasure: morning walk,prayer,talking with a squirrel – it sat on a tree very close to me and looked at me for quite some time. I spoke a few words, almost in a whisper and we seemed connected. Then Squirrel took its right front “hand” in a wee fist and touched its chest (heart). It stayed like that looking at me until I did the same and then it brought its hand down and so did I – and we parted. It was so sweet.

I walked on and felt the life force energy of the trees that canopy the streets here. I felt welcomed, known, supported.

Everything Is One Thing. I am not a squirrel and a squirrel is not a human being and yet, for a moment, we were part of the same thing. Different but not separate. Different but not separate.

People think I am so “disciplined” to walk or ride my bike every day. Nope. Discipline has nothing to do with it. Nature is God loving my very Soul, My True Self flourishes when I experience creation, when I feel the Divine in Everything, including myself.

 

What Were You Taught To Fear?

I find snakes and lizards of all kinds and sizes fascinating and, for the most part, beautiful. My daughter-in-law is afraid of snakes. There is a reptile house at our local zoo and I have wanted to take my granddaughter in to see everything. Her sweet mother doesn’t even want to walk by it. Yesterday was my opportunity because my son and I took Hannah to the zoo by ourselves. I was very excited and my daughter-in-law was relieved that she didn’t have to be with us at the reptile house!

Hannah ran from window to window and it took some effort to get her to slow down so I could be sure she was actually seeing the snakes and lizards. She just turned two a few months ago so she had no idea what to look for. One of the small snakes was the color of lime sherbet; it almost looked like it would glow in the dark. She was fascinated. I think her favorites were the large lizards. At one window she said, “Gama your lizard (the one on my fence) is small and this lizard is very big!” What a joy to introduce this sweet being to creatures many people avoid because they are so frightened.

That experience was the highlight of my day. It was a special day at the zoo: field trips from at least 4 different schools. The reptile house was filled with shining faces and small hands pressed against glass to see white, yellow, green, brown, and black snakes. Squeals of excitement rang out as wide eyes came upon Gilda monsters. No fear; only openness to things they had only seen pictures or drawings of before that moment. I am grateful that these children have been given the opportunity to appreciate another living being rather than fear it because someone else does. I am grateful to my daughter-in-law for consciously choosing not to pass her fear on to her daughter.

I am grateful to my parents who taught me to respect that some snakes are poisonous and for taking the time to be sure I knew the difference. When I was little, we were stationed in New Mexico so the knowledge was important. I am grateful to the parents of a classmate in 4th grade whose parents let him have a pet snake. He brought it to school and we all were allowed to hold it, pet it, learn from it and him. I always smile because he carried it in a pillowcase that he could hang from his head and still ride his bike to school!

Life has taught me to fear some things and even some people. I continue to heal those parts of myself that hold unreasonable fear. Fear can be my friend and teacher at times because it alerts to me potential danger so that I can make wise choices. It has taken some practice to learn when to welcome Teacher Fear and when to release and heal fear that hampers my life flow and my ability to embrace life fully. Perhaps another day I will delve more into that process. Today it is enough to recognize that many of our fears are based on how we have been taught to perceive what we are experiencing rather than the truth of who we are and what is happening.

Aum shanti.

Control or Release?

This is so often the question, isn’t it? Which is more powerful – to be in control of a situation or to release control of that situation? It seems obvious that the “right” answer is to release control. Most of us have or are dealing with our control issues. It is easier than it used to be as it is such a common thing to discuss now.

In the path of enlightened awareness, the motivation comes from a deep place within. Intellectually, I am very clear that control simply doesn’t work even though it may appear to in the short term. Self-control is most useful in creating a healthier flow of life, especially until I grow up in some specific area of my life. Once my awareness level catches up with the heart desire to change a behavior, there is little or need to exercise self-control because I am able to flow with that desire in a very natural way.

As with many healing insights, I begin to have a breakthrough when I recognize that the nature of what I am looking at is yet another one of the paradoxes of this human life experience. Power appears to come through the ability to be in the position of control which often manifests in arrogance. In spite of this, I find the most powerful leaders are those who come from a place of humility and deep respect for themselves and others. They know they have the final say but they are willing to listen and learn. In return, those who interact with them trust their right to lead and their ultimate decisions.

How does this manifest in one’s personal life? I don’t have time to write a book this morning so I’ll simply offer a few thoughts. Control manifests in so many ways it boggles the mind. It can be outright, arrogant, and demanding or it can be subtle, deceptive, and manipulative. None of these things lead to true and lasting relationships. None of these things nurture a person’s soul or result in a loving and compassionate expression of self. These things can create a false sense of security in this wild and wooly world. I get it. However, I do not resonate with it.  It took me a long while but I have come to see that trying to control myself or other people or circumstances stops the flow of creative energy in my life. For me, release has proved to be more powerful than any other approach.

Yoga and meditation are my primary tools to develop the ability to release into the flow of my life. How do you respond when you have shared a struggle you are having with someone and they say, “You just have to let that go.” Really? Like I can do that when the pain is up and my emotions are screaming to be heard. Yeah, I’ll just let that go and move on. Isn’t that called stuffing your emotions? When I tried that behavior on, it affected my physical health on a frightening level. In yoga I have learned to release into my body by feeling it resist, breathing into those muscles or joints and inviting them to release into my breath. It works. Then I learned the same techniques work with emotions and mental gymnastics…..as long as I am willing to experience those things as I have learned to experience physical resistance. I must make a space for those emotions and those meandering thoughts. I must be with them long enough to breathe into them and then invite them to release into my breath. In allowing them to exist with awareness, I allow them to fulfill their purpose and dissipate.

This is not always a comfortable process but my yoga practice isn’t always comfortable either. I still do it because I have learned that the end result is well worth the discomfort. My emotional practice isn’t always comfortable but the end result is so freeing, so comforting and self-nurturing that I embrace it fully. As with hatha yoga, the more faithful I am with this practice, the more quickly and easily I move through to its rewards.

Release brings me into the natural flow of life which is much more fun and relaxing.

Aum shanti. Namaste.