Day 292 - The Emptiness of Feeling.
Doing LESR is super helpful for me to make me feel less thrown by life’s ups and downs and my attendant feelings about all of that. But I also have to follow it up with this practice of seeing that I am not my feelings, there is someone inside of me that is thinking the thoughts that produce the feelings. I am not what I think and feel, there is a separation there and in realizing that, I create some space.
When I get heated or upset, it is helpful for me to ask the following types of questions that Pema Chodron postulates in her book, Welcoming the Unwelcome:
“Who is feeling this?”
“Is this feeling permanent?”
“Is it transient?”
“Is it solid?”
“Is it dynamic?”
“Is it fluid?”
“Is the feeling me”
“Is the feeling not me?
“Is the feeling an obstacle?
“Is the feeling a portal?”
I don’t have to ask all of the questions, every time, any one of them can bring me out of a downward spiral. I can just use one of them to stop me from falling down the thought/feeling pit of despair.
I can also use this whole experience to realize that I am feeling (angry, depressed, sad, guilty, scared, incredulous) just like other people on the planet. I am not alone on my tiny island of me, feeling these feelings. I am, like other people, prone to feeling and right now around the world there are many other people just like me feeling what I am feeling. It helps me immensely to realize that I am not the only one. I am not alone. I am not so important in my story because there are other people out there suffering from the same thoughts and feelings as me. And some of them likely for much worse reasons, and some of them, likely for much better reasons. There I am in the middle again and once I realize I am just there in the middle with feelings and thoughts that are commonplace, I can relax a little. Everything just got a little smaller and digestible. My ego’s need to create GREAT BIG DEALS out of my emotions just got ventilated a bit and now with some space, I can get a new perspective.
It also helps me immediately to see that I am not alone. So I can take in all the pain of my own thoughts and feelings and those of others with the same anger, rage, upset, sadness, despair and guilt. I can breathe it all in, in the hopes that my willingness to take on more of it alleviates the suffering of just one other person. Let me take on a little more so that someone else who is in this hard place can get a little freer. Then, after I have breathed it all in, I can send out white, healing light to everyone who might be feeling/thinking the same as me right now. This practice in Buddhist tradition is called Tonglen or sending and taking practice. I take in the problem and I send out the solution or at least the energy of solution.
It is hard to take on more pain when you are already feeling overwhelmed but in my experience, it is my willingness to take on more, at a time when I feel tapped out emotionally, that causes my heart to expand and for me to get to places, emotional places, that I have never been before. Then to send out the energy of healing to all who might be similarly situated is a great gift. I instantly feel less alone and so happy that I am able to help in a time, when just moments before, felt like I had nothing to offer anyone, about anything.
For me, anything I can do to puncture some holes in my GIANT ego and self importance are good for me, and for you. I cannot live amongst you and feel like one of you if I am filled with self and no exit strategy. Life is a weird, crazy mess a great deal of the time. I have to always remember that it (the drama/trauma and love/light) is happening for me, not to me. And that is what we call the emptiness of feeling, this bailing out of the pitiful feelings of self pity and self importance over and over again. And returning to a place where I can love you and I can be ok loving me also. For me, it is this practice of sending and taking that makes the journey through my feeling/thinking life, a spiritual practice whether I am feeling good, bad or indifferent. It is all work on the path...