How Stillness is Expressed Emotionally
The key to being still emotionally is understanding that no thing has any specific emotion woven into its fabric. This means that any object, person or experience takes on the emotional meaning that we give it, therefor becoming a mirror of our state of emotional consciousness. What can bring one person to tears may bring another to laughter. What elicits fear in one person brings out excitement in another. Until you understand this, you will never achieve emotional stillness.
What this means is that if at any time you are experiencing sadness, happiness, fear, anger, excitement or disgust, you have projected those emotions with their associated feelings onto what ever is happening. This means that nobody else can make you sad or happy. Nobody or nothing else causes you to be fearful, angry or excited. You choose to respond to your experience based on the meaning that you attribute to that experience. That meaning arises from your past experience or your programming, how you were modelled or taught to relate to such an experience.
This is a challenging example, but it drives home what I am suggesting. I have been in a workshop where a woman talked about her experiences of sexual abuse as a child, at the hands of her father. She explained that her experience had been very loving and pleasurable and was something she enjoyed. She thought this was what everyone experienced and only had loving thoughts about her father, until…she was told that the behaviour was ‘sexual abuse’ and totally inappropriate. At that point she went from feeling happiness about her experience to feeling disgust. Nothing in the experience itself solicited the emotional transformation, it was the way she related to the experience that resulted in a different emotional response, in this case, anger and resentment. (In no way do I personally endorse the father’s behaviour.)
Inversely, I am familiar with a case of childhood sexual abuse that resulted in tremendous fear and self-degradation that lasted 50 years, until…the woman was told that her experience held gifts that enabled her to fulfil a noble purpose. Recognising the opportunity to serve others with this understanding allowed her to replace her fear with gratitude and her judgement and resentment with forgiveness. Nothing in the experience itself solicited the emotional transformation, it was the way she related to the experience that resulted in a different emotional response, in this case freedom and stillness.
This last scenario is an example of the form of forgiveness based on the notion of ‘selective remembering’. One of the principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’ says that if peace (stillness) is your priority, being the thing you desire most, then forgiveness (as described above) becomes your only function. In other words, no matter what the experience, you can choose peace instead of fear, sadness, happiness, anger, disgust or excitement. Like emotions, peace and stillness aren’t naturally woven into anything external, they are states of conscious that we choose and therefor bring to our reality. Peace, stillness and emotions are all brought to our experiences, it’s just that you have to make a conscious choice to adopt peace and stillness, since they typically haven’t been modelled or taught and don’t rate high in the social norms.
The ability to maintain peace and stillness is made easier when you have the ability to stay in awareness, being the witness/observer. Meditation is the discipline of learning how to be the witness/observer of thoughts and emotions. Being the observer, that which is aware, means that you have thoughts and emotions, but being in awareness you recognise that you are more than that, because you can observe them. You might recall a time when you were getting angry and could see yourself losing it! The observer/witness doesn’t deny any thoughts or feelings, since they are intrinsic to the human experience. Typically we attribute a judgement to what has been observed. We decide whether an experience is good or bad, right or wrong etc. and from that perspective we attribute (generally unconsciously) an emotion or feeling, believing that those emotions or feelings came as a result of the experience.
In the Christian tradition, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that if you could see with your eyes and hear with your ears (be the observer without personal filters) and understand with your heart (observe without judgement), both of which would allow you to hear the Still Small Voice, you would be healed. The eyes and ears are the tools of the witness/observer in gleaning facts. Understanding, the wisdom dimension of observation, is gained through asking – how does this serve (me, others and the planet)? It is this two fold approach to engaging life that results in stillness. There is a law in quantum physics that says, when something is authentically observed, it changes. In the examples above, the way both people related to their experiences of abuse, change because of what they chose to project onto their experience. Remember, the experience didn’t change for the experience to change.
In my next blog, I’ll be exploring how our values and what we desire can impact on our state of stillness. This is stillness and spirituality.
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