Savannah Hanson: Subtle violence on the spiritual path
So many are feeling profoundly shaken by the current energetic climate.
It may be hard to hold on to trust as our world gets rocked. Many are now motivated to make changes but do not know where to start.
We may project our discomfort on to those around us; if only they would change we would be fine.
We may try to shift our outer circumstances again and again only to find the new home, new car, new relationship, new job does not satisfy the hunger within.
Then we may finally realize it is an inside job and start working on inner housekeeping. The anger has to go, the impatience, the laziness. We shift the blame from the outer world to the inner.
This is the time when the subtle violence of the spiritual path may raise its insidious head. Some religions speak of the taint of “original sin.”
While we may reject the concept of sin, we still find other ways to shame ourselves.
Spirituality can have us blaming ourselves for negative thoughts, thinking it is our own fault we are suffering. Or it is our distasteful qualities that are the problem. We try to eradicate the aspects of self that cause discomfort. We are willing to surgically remove our fear, our despair.
We soon face the uncomfortable realization that what we resist persist. Now we are really in a quandary. Many will continue trying to eliminate hated aspects of self until that becomes too painful. Many spiritual teachers are directing us away from this misguided effort.
Jeff Foster describes depression as deep rest, the desire of our being to rest from the endless self-criticism, the view of self as an unending self-improvement project.
Psychologist Matt Licata asks us to welcome without resistance all emotions, to create the space to embrace whatever is present.
Author and spiritual teacher Matt Kahn tells us to love what arises, to offer our own compassion and tenderness to the most wounded aspects of self.
If our child is afraid, do we yell and tell him to get over it? If our child feels sad, do we tell her not to make such a big deal, to try to just forget it? Sometimes we do, we train our children to repress their feelings just as we were taught.
Yet ultimately we will witness none of these strategies work.
The only way to truly integrate an emotion is to fully allow it, to turn in to it, to walk right toward the fear.
This may be one of the scariest things we have ever done. It may feel like the emotion could destroy us, it could drown us or completely overwhelm us.
Yet ironically, there is often a deep sense of relief as we let go of the resistance.
We say yes to fear, yes to rage, yes to sorrow, yes to joy, allowing the energy to be present in the body without acting upon it. Rather we welcome our emotions as lost children, orphaned from our hearts.
We cuddle and ask them to tell us what is wrong, we ask our emotions what they need, treat them as beloved guests and offer them our best hospitality. We sincerely offer our own hearts compassion.
Recently a friend I have known for years, someone who has the same Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology I have, finally understood the vital nature of honoring her emotions as embodied experience, neither suppressing or expressing them externally toward another, rather allowing them.
It seemed to her she was hearing this as though for the first time, despite my having spoken of it numerous times.
It seems we need to hear it repeatedly to finally buck our conditioning and be willing to face and feel what is. This incredible treasure is available to all of us yet too often is shoved into the closet of consciousness.
John Amodeo, Ph.D., MFT writes in “Psychology Today”
“A path forward is to develop a skillful relationship with the full range of our feelings as they arise in the moment. This is a middle path between avoiding our feelings and fueling them. It is a path of being mindful of feelings without merging with them and getting lost in them.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intimacy-path-toward-spirituality/201412/the-power-befriending-our-feelings.
Author and psychologist John Welwood said, “The first step toward transmutation is to cut through this struggle of self-judgment by accepting the emotion as it is. Instead of seeing emotions as a threat, it is possible to befriend them, allow them to be just as they are-expressions of our own energy. By not indulging in further judgments, it becomes possible to feel the texture and actual quality of the emotion.” http://www.atpweb.org/jtparchive/trps-11-79-02-141.pdf.
Perhaps it is only through direct knowing that we learn that there is a doorway to liberation through any fully felt emotion. The totally surrendered emotion leads us to a greater sense of our true nature as eternal beings. Like the Buddha suggests, don’t believe me, try it for yourself.
For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422, Cellular Release Practitioner at (530) 575-5052 orsavannah@RaisedinLove.com
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