This is a four part-article:
To reflect ‘what is’ on an emotional level, we must consider our emotional relationships with others as well as our own internal emotional state.
What emotions express truth, ‘what is’? According to the Yogic teachings, emotions like kindness, love, compassion, respect, empathy, and friendliness most accurately reflect the truth. They are the closest to describing the unchanging, blissful state of samadhi, in which the Yogi sees the united and interconnected nature of existence. Emotions including dislike, disregard, hatred, greed, fear, contempt, express division instead. They predispose us to see the world as a dark, conflict-filled place.
There is a further distinction to be made: conditional versus unconditional emotion. The Yogini chooses the latter, as the source of her emotional stability does not lie in the shifting events of everyday life, temporary pains and ephemeral pleasures, but rather in the immutable essence of ‘what is.’ Many ideas and emotions are conditionings. Emotions like guilt, pleasure, or enjoyment of beauty, and the actions that precipitate them, vary from culture to culture, from generation to generation, based on little more than convention. Social expectation is not inherently good or bad. It provides context for our life, our relationships, our understanding of the world. The Yogini’s path leads her away from acting out of conditioning to finding a source in the unconditioned, unconditional truth.
Unconditional respect, or unconditional love, means that the source of the emotional state is not based on the actions of the other person or on the circumstances of your life. It is stable, unchanging. Conditional love or friendliness, e.g., being friendly towards someone until they do something that you don’t approve of, is not friendliness at all! It is a surface attraction to someone who seems to reinforce your point of view. When they no longer act in a way that is perceived as beneficial to you, the ‘friendship’ is quickly withdrawn.
Extend this same consideration to yourself. You will make mistakes. You will have bad days. You will have great days. You will fail, and you will succeed. Through it all, be kind to yourself. Be patient.
Our emotional state can be compared to an ocean. Some days are sunny, and the waves are small, calm. Some days are stormy. Winds whip the waves into a frothing lather, water roaring from peak to trough with crushing power. Lightning plays nearby.
During both, only the surface of the ocean is affected. Just 100 feet below the surface, there is no change. The ocean is so deep. Imagine yourself floating there, just beyond the reach of the storms.
Think to yourself: ‘Ah, today it is stormy.’
Think to yourself: ‘Ah, today it is sunny.’
Enjoy both. Let the waves play and dance as they will.
Exercise: You will have ‘negative’ emotions. They are your teachers. Question them, and you will learn something of yourself. Ask, ‘why do I feel so strongly about this?’ and do not settle for ‘Because I do!’ or ‘I’m allowed to feel angry!’ Indeed you are, yet this attitude is not conducive for the practice of Yoga. The Yogi takes any opportunity given him to further his pursuit of liberation.
Identify a negative emotion that is bothering you. Perhaps you’re angry at someone, or sad. Change your perspective and see this from another angle. Maybe someone you know is in a similar situation; what would an outsider looking in see? How might the person you’re sad or angry at be feeling?
Identify a positive emotion that you are feeling. Will it last when circumstances change? How can you anchor it to ‘what is’?
This is a four part-article: