LEARNING TO WATCH

March 10, 2018 at 7:53 AM Leave a comment

Aren’t you glad you don’t feel as bad all day as you feel at some points during the day? Aren’t you glad you aren’t always as angry as you are sometimes during the day? Aren’t you glad that the Facebook posts that make you cry, don’t have you crying all day long? Our feelings are fluid. They come, they go. They feel so darn real when they’re there, but then they fade. All our feelings fade — the positive and the negative.

They call it an emotional “state,” and I don’t know about you, but I zoom from Kansas to Maine to Colorado to Missouri at the speed of the Millenium Falcon. (Unfortunately, Chewy is usually the pilot instead of Harrison Ford. I’ll have to work on that.)

But, my point is that I am eternally grateful that the depressions which visit don’t stay, nor do the fears or the angers or the jealousies or the insecurities. The price we have to pay for that, of course, is that the delights and the pleasures and the triumphs don’t last either.

In “The Guest House,” my favorite Rumi poem, he describes our emotions as “visitors.” He says there’s “a new arrival every morning.” He suggests we welcome all the feelings and emotions we have. Entertain them, he says. “Treat each guest honorably.” He goes as far as to suggest that we laugh at our emotions and “invite them in.”

The poem ends this way:

“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

What a transformative way to look at our emotions: they are our guides. Our anger guides us into justice. Our fears guide us into caution and faith. Our depression guides us into compassion. Our grief guides us into gratitude.

Can you see how this can happen when we watch and welcome our emotions instead of hiding from them, denying them, anesthetizing them with drugs, drowning them in alcohol, or burning them up in smoke.

What makes you angry? A dog being chained up 24/7, a child being slapped, political decisions that harm our environment, megachurches…..the list is endless. But if we are guided by our anger, we’ll use that emotion to accomplish something. We’ll volunteer for the animal shelter, teach parenting classes, or support the Environmental Defense Fund. We’ll channel our anger into action for justice.

It’s the same with our other emotions. We can stay stuck in them, controlled by them, defenseless against them, or we can learn to watch them, observe the valuable roles they can play, and be guided into movement and purpose by what we feel.

I can’t promise that Rumi is correct and that our emotions have “each been sent as a guide from beyond.” I can promise, however, that if you adopt this philosophy, the idea that our emotions can guide us, you will find yourself turning traps into trails that lead somewhere.

May this be a week of learning to watch. May the watching bring us peace and fresh purpose!

Love, Susan

 

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The Dark Days Learning to Listen

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