Emotions are a great gift. Because of our sensory capacity to feel, the world is richer. It has texture. These sensory responses in turn let us know when and how we should act. Emotion is after all, related to motion, or movement. For many of us, emotions are a confusing thing. We sense too much, or not enough. We move in a wild and unskilled manner, leading to compulsive, impulsive, or awkward reactions. Or, we fail to move, making us rigid, frozen, and insensitive to life around us. In many spiritual paths, and in relation to psychological work, emotions become the major “battleground.” “Kill out desire and passion” some religious teachings proclaim. Learn to master the roller coaster ride of your feelings, psychologists often profess. We attempt to control our emotional nature in any way we can, via drugs (Prozac being the latest popular trend), or “mind control” to name a few methods. Or, we seek to rid ourselves of emotions so we can cultivate “good ones,” and eliminate “bad ones.” We seek to do this via catharsis, or positive thinking, or mood pills, or whatever we can think of. Eventually, over time we learn that emotions can neither be controlled, or gotten rid of. Just as the ocean tide is meant to ebb and flow, emotions also are meant to move from state to state, helping us to remain sensitive to the world around us, and teaching us how to act accordingly.
The idea that somehow or another, we are to have such complete mastery over our emotions, that we are eternally blissful and calm, is a distortion as well. Time and again, people who seek to emulate spiritual leaders discover, that even here, great spiritual teachers have moments of anger, fear, confusion, despair, and so forth. Spiritual seekers are often shocked to discover this about the teachers they emulate. How could this be? Perhaps, it would benefit us, if we moved away from the notion of controlling or mastering our emotions, and tried another way. This way is one of beautifying our emotions. Something which is done primarily out of recognition, acceptance, and refinement over time.
What is beauty? In a subjective sense, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Still, certain elements which make something beautiful can be localized and built upon. Beauty begins first of all with recognition. When we use the eyes, we see, or recognize something. There is something very powerful in the act of being seen. Everyone thrives under attention, and disintegrates when neglected. The clearer our perception, especially when looked upon with loving intent, the more powerful the response elicited from those who are seen. This ability to see “within” someone, explains why many people may say they find something beautiful which others do not. The second factor has to do with appreciation. To appreciate something means we value it. When we value something, or someone, we spend time with it. The more time spent, the more intimate we become. This leads to qualities of depth, and a sense of the preciousness of something, again enhancing beauty. Another characteristic of beauty is refinement. Refinement requires skill, or training over a long period of time. This enhances the characteristic of light, making it something subtle, delicate, yet rich and full. Hence beauty!
When working with our emotions, we can beautify them by first recognizing them in a non-judgmental way. Ah! Here is anger again, and sadness, amusement, and so forth. Next, we can appreciate them. Oh, anger lets me know I must do something different in my life. Sadness tells me I am having trouble letting go of something I loved. Amusement reveals to me areas to cultivate for enjoyment and appreciation. Finally, we can refine them. I change my life and release my anger by talking vs. punching it out. I let go by allowing for my grief vs. holding it back and creating depression within me. I cultivate amusement by enjoying things which have more power to endure vs. simply moving from one surface interest to the next. In this method, all emotions are embraced. They are accepted, seen, understood, and worked with consciously. Emotions become wonderful teachers and are embraced, versus controlled, neglected, or resisted, for what they have to offer in enriching our lives.
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