Reframing Emotions

Reframing Emotions

For many people, there are “good” emotions and “bad” emotions. Good emotions “make” us feel better, bad emotions “make” us feel worse. (“make” only because we identify with them as “mine”)

As we’ve been discussing recently, people have the habit sometimes of dwelling in their “bad” emotions. Staying in a place of discomfort, mainly because it’s familiar. Or it may distract us from how we really feel. I know people who maintain a constant state of fatigue, requiring coffee to function, for similar reasons. If we stay inside our little box, we’ll be safe from how we really feel. Like our true feelings were a bogey man.

If we allow ourselves to experience our emotions more openly, we’ll find some have a more constricting quality. Feelings of fear and shame for example, make us feel small. Feelings of joy and love make us feel more expanded. This is a deeper aspect of why we judge some emotions as “bad” – they make us feel more constrained, lesser.

What’s notable here though is that it’s not the emotion itself that brings this “bad” response. It is the minds response to the experience. If we are identified with a mental concept of a “me” or ego, mind as me feels limited by sadness so judges it “bad”. In fact, if the mind takes itself to be in charge, everything in our experience is labeled and categorized, usually in an either/or black and white way. This is all mind. It is not the emotions doing this, although emotions may be associated.

Put another way, it is our reaction to emotions that causes us to judge them, to resist them, and to suffer by them.

This aspect of suffering becomes much more clear when you begin to see the drama and turmoil, when you begin to step out of it. In a way, we fear the experience of our suffering because it’s worse than we’ll recognize. In another way, the escape is much easier than we know. That brief phase where we become aware of it, learn to step through and release it, and come to peace can be a bumpy period but one well worth the effort.

You may also have noticed how I differentiate between love and Love. Small love is an emotion. When we begin to experience divine Love, we discover that even the lofty emotion of love is still a constriction, a boundary on infinity. When we step into divine Love, we discover the deeper roots of feeling that are without boundaries, that place with no constriction on being.

This is when we move into a place where feelings are just energy, flowing through our life. While emotions will still arise and constrict some aspect of experience, it will no longer restrict who we are. Just an aspect of the experience. We remain boundless and free, whatever the waves on the surface.

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  1. Share

    D, when you write and Love and love I’m reminded of something Lorne said recently: even the world is the scenery of the Self seeing Itself. Extrapolating from that, maybe even love is the result of Love loving Itself. I sense a key to realizing this is indicated by your saying that emotions may arise and constrict some aspect of experience but will no longer restrict who we are. Grateful for practical and wonderful discernment.

  2. Davidya

    Oh yes, all emotions originate from Love. They are all energy flow, created by the movement of Love, by the flow of Self within Itself.

    When we are no longer identified with our emotions, they simply flow through our experience and complete. Without resistance they don’t hang around, colouring our experience. We don’t need all that energy to hold back the tide of incomplete feelings. We are love itself.

    And those incomplete feelings? They are the knots in the energetic nervous system. They are the unresolved karmas, the sprouted seeds. Resolving them clears the field of action, the energetic field, the feelings, the whole sheebang.

    So there is not only the unrestricted sense of being, but the whole experience of life unfolds in a far more profound way.

  3. Share

    Had this insight during the Hour of Brahman. So it must be a good one (-;

    That in some very true way, both Love and realization and perhaps all those capitalized words, Truth, Beauty, Power, etc. These are the least personal aspects of reality. And at the same time, the most personal. Maybe it’s just the times. Maybe am off on this. But what I sense is that whatever is happening, it’s happening both for infinity and point, both for the person and for the Universe.

  4. Davidya

    Hi Share
    Yes exactly. The person is the universe and is the cosmic being. There is no other.

    In a way, we could say Love is the personal and realization the impersonal. Aspects like Truth and Realization are qualities of the intellect. Aspects like Beauty, Love and Power are the personal, the heart.

    Another perhaps obvious way of putting this – the impersonal is the Shiva, the observer aspect. The personal is the seen, the Mother Divine, Mother Nature, the creation, the Shakti.

    Another way, the attention and the intention. The male and the female. Not two things, just 2 ways of being with oneself that allows what is there to unfold within itself. Observer and observed, flowing between the one.

    If you didn’t get up so early, you wouldn’t have so many questions 😉

  5. Pingback: Seer and Seen « In 2 Deep

  6. K

    At this point, for me, emotions seem like intruders or guests that I wish would go away. Most emotions, whether positive or negative, are just uncomfortable. Recently, I feel I do not want the company of people in any significant way nor do I want to have any deep conversations with anybody. I feel the same about emotions. I read something, the emotions infest me, and then after a while they go away. I do read potboilers and such which stir the emotions sometimes, so I am hoping I will get to the point that I do not want to read anything even. What indeed is the utility of emotions? Of course, the mother’s love for her child helps the child survive by being fed clothed etc. and the male-female emotions help make those children. But other than populating the earth and sustaining the population – of what use are emotions? Is this feeling that emotions are pests or infestations something people experience as an effect of spiritual practice?

    1. Hi K
      Yes – when we begin to disentangle from emotions, they may seem like intruders. But when we get into resisting, then we’re constricting them. Then they tend to cycle back over and over.

      A lot of emotions are “noise” generated by unresolved experiences. If we just allow the traffic to go by, then they’ll gradually resolve and subside.

      Once we move past the old backlog, emotions of all types bring a richness and fullness to life. As they are the signatures of energy flow, they also connect us to the grand dance of creation and the movement of the cycles of time.

      So yes, when we disentangle they can indeed seem like noisy pests. Thoughts may seem that way too. And it is our unresolved history hanging around and being annoying. But it’s just part of the process, like digesting our food.

      As we create an increasingly open space within, what is unresolved comes up for resolution. It can sometimes seem endless. But it’s not.

      Just try to avoid getting into a battle with this stuff or it will perpetuate it.

      1. K


        Thank you. I think healing has a role though one cannot impel healing. I am not actively resisting negative emotions as far as I can tell. It is that the negative emotions have a physical home, under my right clavicle. So it actually resides there and is uncomfortable and some of the more gnarly ones seem difficult to dissolve and unpack. In fact when I wake up only the physical discomfort is there without even the cognitive accompaniment. I tried to bring gentle attention to that area of the body. It almost feels that there is peg or a big nail hammered in there. One thing is that spontaneous mantra repetition or prayer rises which is different from the mantra that I use in my regular practice. This happens when I am really suffering and not avoiding. I am hopeful that the spontaneous mantra will heal. It is taking its own sweet time though. I am surprised that one person can have so many knots. Thanks again.

        1. Hi K
          Right – you can’t impel healing. It’s something you allow. And yes, our unresolved experiences are stored in places we can sometimes identify.

          Yes – they call them granthi in Sanskrit, knots. The intense contraction can feel like being pierced. And they’re often well defended, like they have a crust.

          And yep. Being able to see them and gradually heal is a huge step. Most people wouldn’t even be willing to notice. They defend against even that.

          Just allow it to come out as it does. Don’t worry about spending too much time on it either. Most of the processing will be in the background.

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