In Part 1 of “Becoming Emotionally Literate” we brought some close attention to feelings, describing emotions -- both verbally and physically -- locating them in our bodies, our experiential sense of emotional states, and much more. I hope this series has been helpful and illuminating. Please share your experience of the feeling life and the content of these BLOGs for others to enjoy and learn from.
In this part I would like to discuss conditioned emotions, freedom and emotions, and the role of feeling emotion in spirituality.
Spoiler alert! Some of what follows may be offensive to those people who are attached to their personalities and character.
Emotions in the first stage of awakening (see part 1 of my book Your Essential Self) are exclusively conditioned. They don't always -- and may never -- seem that way, but they are. Conditioned emotions are not free, not spontaneous or unpredictable. They are entirely predictable because they are reactive. Reactive emotions are familiar, habitual, and preset. You have emotional circuits inside you that proscribe how, when, where, why, and what you feel, how you deal with the experience of feeling, and how you express and demonstrate your emotions.
Through expectations and assumptions from your conditioned past you are wired with cues and responses and predictable sequences of emotional, actionable behavior. These emotional action patterns are rather like choreographed movements, participating in the mental realms as well as the emotional and physical ones that comprise a complex structure of psychological programming. This makes the patterns hard to detect and still harder to do anything about. Your patterns are inevitable in appearance and arising form. Thus you feel trapped, you feel their limitations, and you react against them. You react against your reactions and dig yourself in to a deeper hole.
In Sacred Attention Therapy we entirely dismantle the structure with insight and emotional and psychological breakthroughs by raising awareness of these patterns and their underlying foundational assumptions and expectations about yourself and your life.
In this way it is entirely possible to be free of your emotional attachments to the past and to embrace a fresh life of reality, love, and spontaneity. Freedom in emotionality is neither something to be addressed lightly nor something that can be embraced before you are ready for it. It is a tide of feeling that you will wash away all your fears and insecurities and throw you up onto the shore of spiritual surrender. So it is best approached with great caution.
Freedom in emotional life leads you into the state of authenticity and compassion. Feelings and emotions are sometimes completely impersonal, as you move beyond your individual identity, separateness, and the vestiges of divisive character.
Increasingly your emotions are felt spontaneously. Negative emotions stay for far shorter lengths of time. Emotional patterning has less and less power over you.
As emotions become less subject to censure and inhibition so they lend themselves to love. With feelings no longer controlled or predicted the sometimes fierce face of love, the challenging aspects of compassion, and the poignant tenderness of radiance and affection are filled with kindheartedness and warmth.
In spiritual life per se, or what we call in Sacred Attention practices third-stage awakening, emotions are no longer owned and neither are they personalized or subject to our will or intention. Emotions may come and go but the backdrop of placidness and contentment tends to render them less turbulent, less distracting -- more like a gentle accompaniment than the principal melody.
Not only personal emotions (the delusion that emotions are somehow ours), but emotions in the service of compassion recede. In the sacred-spiritual life of practicing consciousness in perpetual sadhana the inner or outer of the relative world are experienced as fleeting, never sustaining, always arising and leaving. Thus they claim far less of our attention with no particular effort, resistance, or manipulation. Unreality simply fades in the light of Truth.
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected]
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [...]