Five Virtues and Feeling Fully

December 30, 2011

Our emotions indicate our alignment with our inner being.  When we feel good, we’re thinking or doing something right (we’re in alignment).  When we feel bad, we’re thinking or doing something wrong (we’re out of alignment).

Is this absolute?  Is happy always good, is angry always worse, and is sad always even worse? Is not our awareness of our emotional state, and our will to act in accordance with our understanding of it, more important than the simple pleasure-or-pain reaction of the flesh to inner alignment, which emotion is?

Sometimes negative emotion is appropriate to a situation, and anger or grief is the correct response, in the moment—but not forever. It’s appropriate, then, to feel emotion completely and express it to its completion, at which time the emotional state automatically returns to its “normal,” default positive state.

That is how to feel good, and how to be in alignment with one’s inner being:express the negative emotions as the experiences that conjure them are encountered.

We are a storehouse of past experience, and we continually encounter present experiences that “activate” parts of our being that carry the impression of those past experiences. Much of our “job” here—much of our purpose as currently-living human beings—is to discharge this burden of negative imprints so that we don’t pass them on to others through the process of harm.

Harm and its negative effects are like a cancer that has infected the human species, and which it is our purpose to find and eradicate within ourselves. This takes much strengthawarenesscourage, insight, and honesty to accomplish. The better we live these five “virtues,” the more we come into alignment with Who We Really Are, and the more we are (and do) “good” in the world:

Strength is the willingness and ability to endure unpleasantness.

Awareness is breadth and depth of knowledge, consciousness, and understanding.

Courage is the willingness and ability to endure fear.

Insight is inner awareness.

Honesty is the willingness to accept reality, rather than overlooking, ignoring, or lying about it.

It seems that the best way to feel better is to feel what you are feeling, fully; to accept that you feel that way; to understand that it’s okay to feel it in this moment; and to express (and thereby release) the negative emotions that present experience arouses from the inner impressions of past experience.

And what could feel better than feeling how you really feel, instead of covering it up?

(written in 2009)

Phlegm and Negativity

December 24, 2011

Phlegm is not a part of who you are—but you have some, don’t you? We all do. A certain small amount might even be considered healthy. Sometimes we have more phlegm, sometimes less. We tend to have more when we’re sick, or if the air is filthy. But none of us mistake our phlegm for who we are.

Yes, I know, phlegm is gross. But it’s important to understand.

Often, conditions like “allergies,” which mimic crying in their symptoms (teary eyes, runny nose, phlegm, etc.) are not caused by our environment, but by unexpressed negative emotion within us, which can be triggered by an environmental condition. Whatever emotion we do not express at the time we feel it (from day one!) remains within us—until we release it. If we don’t, it releases itself—through conditions like “allergies,” sinus infections, bronchitis, and many others. The environment (including pathogens) can trigger these conditions, but the inner cause remains.

In general, emotional health = physical health.

Imagine meeting someone who is sick and deciding, “I don’t like that person. He has way too much phlegm!” Would this be fair? Not even “fair”—would this becorrect? Would we be right in doing so, or would we be making a mistake in judgment?

Negativity is like phlegm. It’s so much like phlegm that releasing negativity on an emotional level almost equals releasing phlegm (and other fluids, like tears, sweat, and saliva) on a physical level. Let me repeat that: (emotional) negativity corresponds to (physical) phlegm! Phlegm is literally a physical manifestation of an emotional problem. Have you ever gotten sick with a cold or “allergies” at a time when you were enduring a lot of “stress” (negative emotion)? I have.

I’m not saying that all phlegm is because of negative emotion. For example, if it’s cold outside, my nose tends to run. If I work around a lot of dust, I tend to cough. I’m saying that in the same way that we produce phlegm in response to cold or dust, we also produce it in response to emotional irritants and negativity.

We can cry out (emotional) negativity in the same way that we cough up dust to get out (physical) irritants! Have you ever cried so hard that you cough? That’s a very good sign of release. Some religious traditions say that demons come out through coughing or vomiting when they leave the body. Indeed, is there a difference? Negativity is negativity, in my view.

Negativity is emotional sickness, in the same way that phlegm is physical sickness. To judge someone based on his negativity is like judging a man with a cough or runny nose—because he has a cough or runny nose.

While considering this, though, it’s important to understand that a man who is in negativity is contagious in the same way that a man who has a cold is contagious. We can still suffer, ourselves, from the effects of his sickness while he is sick—the sickness can spread to us. When negativity is gone, though (like when a cold is over), he is well again. Negativity, when it leaves us, goes with a release of phlegm, taking the emotional sickness with it.

Negativity is no more a part of who we are than phlegm is. It only afflicts us when we are sick with it, and only until we get well again.

(written in 2009)

Intimacy, Emotional Harm, and Emotional Healing

November 24, 2011

Healthy intimacy heals people emotionally, allowing them access to higher levels of being (or deeper aspects of self), including the spiritual level. This process is akin to growing and tending to a garden that produces flowers and fruit. It produces self-wholeness and emotional well-being.

On the other hand, violent or destructive intimacy splinters the self, especially on an emotional level (which then blocks personal access to the higher levels of existence). This departure from wholeness produces emotional pain, a condition in which “parts” of the self are stuck emotionally at lower levels, depriving the person of the potential richness of life and relationships that characterize a healthy human being.

One irony of human existence is that we are born potentially whole, but all of us have been harmed and thus splintered in some way by harmful interactions with others. Intimacy, the uniquely human aspect of sex, is a powerful way to heal these emotional wounds through our interaction with the perfect other: a human, like us, who is yet basically different because of his or her different gender.

Indeed, we are driven, from the time of sexual maturity, toward the unity of Spirit which we all long for, and which is most closely achieved in true intimacy with another human.

In intimate moments, each partner gives and takes freely from the other. What is exchanged in these moments? Emotional energy circulates through and between the two lovers, and what is whole in one tends to produce wholeness in the other. This wholeness is a spiritual phenomenon, and it is more powerful than the splinteredness or hurt that the animal or fleshy part of existence has produced in us.

Thus, as they say, love really does conquer all.


November 19, 2011

Most people think that a victim, like an “addict,” is a real person: “someone who has been hurt in the past.” To me, though, a victim is simply “someone who does not yet realize his or her own power.”

When you’re hurt, you naturally feel pain—you feel negative or bad about it in some way. But if you realize your own sovereign power over your thoughts and emotions—and, therefore, your body and behavior as well—you don’t get caught in the thought-cycle trap of “victimization.” Once you begin to label yourself a “victim” (or allow someone else to label you!) and you identify with that mindset, you then begin to produce the behavior and circumstances—relationship problems and all—that you think a “victim” is supposed to have.

It’s important to understand that all of us, although we’re individuals, are the product of our culture. The idea of a “victim” is what some Jungian folks might call a “cultural archetype.” Since birth, we’ve all come into contact (either in our personal experience or through TV, movies, stories, etc.) with someone—often a fictional character!—who is identified as a “victim” of some external circumstance or event.  These people tend to have certain mindsets, behaviors and problems: all negative! For whatever reasons (which are unique to the individual), we might identify with that person—especially if it’s Mom or Dad or another person close to us when we’re learning as a child how to operate in the world. People are copycats, especially when we’re young.

Why does one rape victim overcome the negative effects of the experience, while another never seems to get over it—letting that experience reduce the quality of her future relationships and behaviors? The difference is on the mental level, the level of thoughts and emotions. Our emotions follow our thoughts, and “self-powerful” thinking results (eventually) in positive, powerful emotions and better circumstances. On the other hand, “victim” thinking produces weak, negative emotions, which then bring us into negative situations that reinforce that thinking.

To overcome or avoid “victim” thinking, I think it’s important first to recognize that we have ultimate control over our own thoughts and how much negativity we will allow to determine the course of our lives. We allow our own “victim” mindset! Second, I think it’s essential to let go of that terrible thing that happened in the past. You’re not that person now, and the harm doesn’t have to happen to you continually—unless you’re in the habit of replaying that event on the movie screen in your mind.

That movie screen produces your future!

The best way that I know of to let go of pain is to have an emotional release. “Deep” crying—the kind that connects us with that original pain, not the “oh, woe is me” kind—helps us to overcome negativity and let it go. If we learn not to let these bad things attach to us when they happen—if we can release them and get on with life—then, in my opinion, we never have to fear being a “victim,” no matter what negative events might befall us.

Eventually, we learn that our “victim” mindset produces more victimization in our experience, and that moving beyond that mental dis-ease frees us from the real-life circumstances that reinforce that unhealthy mindset. The inner produces the outer.

So, in a nutshell, a victim is a person with a “self-powerless” mindset that they don’t yet know how to get out of. When they get out of it, they cease to be a victim! The truly strong people are those who refuse to let events or circumstances break them on the inside: those who have moved beyond seeing themselves as “victims.”

(Written in 2007)

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