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Posts Tagged ‘Emotions’

Suffering Speaks

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It seems that there’s not a one among us who hasn’t suffered to one degree or another.  I’ve even seen babies and toddlers wail away in suffering, and then be done with it.  It seems that animals may be similar, not languishing in their suffering, but wholly with it just the same.

It is easy for me to see the way out of suffering when I stand on the outskirts of it. It’s a lot harder for me to be immersed in it and somehow stand on the periphery simultaneously, but I’ve been asking to experience this even amidst suffering.

Is there a hierarchy of emotions, some are desirable, some are not?  Could the true extent of my suffering simply exist through my refusal to be with whatever emerges in consciousness?  Was this an area to which my own loving-kindness was excluded? And finally, was there something to be learned from suffering?

It was to these questions I came when three of my girlfriends began an email exchange yesterday.  One of those friends has suggested that I share my part on the blog:

I have found that suffering is only a bad thing when I judge it to be a bad thing. Otherwise suffering is just (yes, really just) another way of life’s longing to know itself in form.  Who am I to declare that joy is better than suffering, that decaying leaves that will nourish this earth are better than budding pink cherry blossoms? Why is any expression better or lesser than another?  It’s not, until I judge it so.

So here I am …

low to the ground
my heart pressed close to it
listening for the sounds
among decaying leaves
and finding life amidst all of it
suffering as I judge it,
and just being with, as I don’t.

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I am finishing out the month on the topic of sadness.  This is one that I’ve written taking a lighthearted approach into the paradox of sadness … enjoy!

Sadness is present.  It was one of my former mentors who instructed us to state it just like that, in lieu of: I am sad. The ‘I am’ statement being one that married or joined you to sadness.

It’s just that ‘sadness is present’ has a sound akin to taking roll in class where Sadness sheepishly answers from the back row, “present”.  I wish that all my Sadnesses were in the back row, sheepish and barely audible.  Yet this one feels as if it’s in the front row and it’s cleared out the entire row for itself.

Actually, I am hoping that Sadness takes a bathroom break because Mischief has plans.  The plan is to stick a big thick wad of gum on Sadness’ seat.  That way when the bell rings, Sadness will be stuck there.  Ah, well now, Mischief has just been nudged by Wisdom and Kindness.  They say,  “All our emotions have a place here.”  “But why does Sadness have to take up an entire front row?” I argue.

“It wants to be noticed and embraced like Humor is.  It wants to see you welcome it the way you do when Joy bounces in the room.  It wants to see your face light up the way it does when Surprise and Delight saunter in.  It wants to be acknowledged just for who it is, not shunned.  It wants to be first-picked to play in the game, not last.  It takes up an entire row just to tell you, it has a right to be here.  And while you have a right to ignore Sadness, in doing so, you lose out on the full technicolor experience of living.”

Mischief never did put that wad of gum on Sadness’ seat.  Eventually Sadness sat in the center of the room, surrounded, embraced even, by all emotion.  There was one day in particular when the whole class voted on the Emotion of the Quarter.  Everyone picked Sadness.  Sadness, flanked by all its Friends, beamed with pride as it accepted the award.  It never sat alone in the back again nor cleared out an entire front row.  It was content to simply Be.

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Flavors

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One night this week I had one of those lucid dreams where you are very aware that you are dreaming.  I was advising myself that fear was a flavor, and guilt was just a flavor, too.

I woke up and started thinking about the big buckets of ice cream at Baskin Robbins, 30 some odd flavors.  They provide little pink spoons so you can sample them.  Some of those flavors don’t make my taste buds do a happy dance.  Just like some of those flavors of emotions, don’t allow my spirit to soar either.  If anything they deflate my spirit, especially if I let myself sit down with the whole bucket!

During the night, I received an email, I instantly picked up the spoon and took a bite out of “Bethie’s a bad girl”.  That’s the not-so-premium flavor of shame.  I almost bellied up to the entire bucket…

Until…

I remembered…

Dear sweet Bethie, you intended no harm, you can put the shame bucket back behind the case.  You do have a choice.  It’s not your flavor anymore,

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If you sit for long enough with sadness, fear or anger, or some strange energy or urge you can’t even name, in a place of no hope and no expectation, it eventually breaks apart, its imagined edges and boundaries dissolving into the vastness, and it reveals its deep intelligence, and its benevolent nature.  At the core of everything we run away from is everything we long for. And we’ll never know if we run away. ~Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster asks us to consider sitting with any feeling without hope or expectation.  It’s not that he’s asking us to have no hope, he’s asking that we sit with the feeling with no intended, purposeful gain in mind.  In other words, you don’t sit with it because you’re privately hoping if you do, it will simply go away.  That’s virtually the same as not accepting or allowing the feeling.

When I was 17 an event that would change my life occurred.  Lately, in the past few months memories of that event popped up seemingly out of nowhere, and with them was the rawness of the pain associated with it.  My first response when they popped up, was to want to forget about it.  I was having none of it.  The next time one of these memories popped up, I chastised myself: get over it, Bethie, move on!

Still the memories continued, asserting themselves at the oddest of times catching me completely off-guard.  I thought I might go to a trusted friend, until I realized I could be that trusted friend.  I remembered how there was no support for me back when I was 17, and in many ways it was the antithesis of support.  I learned to “stuff” the feelings, but the feelings were having none of it, they’d been stuffed long enough.  But they didn’t just want to be heard, they were reaching out for that support, that caring, that nurturing which it never received.  Recognize me — they cried out — be there for me, understand me.

Finally, I sat with the feelings.  I listened with the open heart and ears of understanding and acceptance.  I “mothered” myself and treated the feelings with the same attention a healthy Mother would give to her wounded child.  The memories began to dissipate, their intended purpose apparently fulfilled.

In the words of my current beloved mentor and teacher, Jean Haner: “All any feelings wants is to be welcomed with tenderness.”

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