“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” ~ Rumi
Then you’re doing something right.
“If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.” ~ Andrew Harvey
I recently saw a self-help book, I don’t remember the name, designed to help us completely eradicate anger and other unpleasant feeling emotions out of our lives. It’s also designed to “make” us not even care at all when someone rejects us or when a relationship ends. Not only to eliminate “negative” emotions or help us heal but to PERMANENTLY obliterate them. Forever. Never feel anything but positive emotions again as long as we live. To be forever indifferent to negative events in the world. What a joke, right? It even has a warning saying something along the lines of “Caution, do NOT read this book if you do not want to permanently erase sadness over rejection….you can NEVER go back…. We promise…”
I’m not buying it. Not just like I’m not buying that book. That too. But I’m not buying the nonsense they’re selling.
I don’t believe it’s possible or likely for most people but also, more importantly, I don’t want it to be possible. Even if I could, I would not permanently erase my emotions. Any of them. I refuse to be a brick wall. Or a zombie? Or some non-human emotionless thing.
I believe that life is a gift. And that includes our ability to FEEL. To feel pain, grief, pleasure, heartbreak, hope, and healing. Anger, fury, joy, and happiness. Sadness and relief. To feel rejected and accepted, empty, broken, then whole.
Imagine walking around in a constant, static state of just one emotion. Whether the emotion itself is pleasant or unpleasant, the whole experience is not pleasant, in my opinion. We don’t need dramatic mood swings but a little variation would be sweet.
Like the cliche goes, it’s easier to appreciate the good with a little bit of bad thrown in!
But not just that.
Unpleasant feeling emotions and sensations actually serve a purpose. We would be in trouble without them. They let us know something is wrong. They fuel us, motivate us, teach us. They keep us safe.
Being peaceful and happy in general and having great control over our emotions and thoughts and actions or expressions is one thing, rarely getting worked up or angry is one thing. A good thing! Permanently erasing “negative” emotions and never being capable of experiencing them again is something else.
Imagine a world without fear. Even if you could not feel fear, you likely wouldn’t be stupid. You would still know what can cause your death and seriously hurt you and probably would mostly avoid it but you may still act more recklessly than when you can feel fear. Your judgment may be a bit off without a healthy dose of fear.
Crossing a busy street for example. I see the horror of people crossing recklessly too often. They don’t want to wait so they dash through the speeding traffic, trying to avoid getting hit. It’s horrifying to witness. Just horrifying. They usually don’t get hit, thanking my lucky stars. And these are people who can and do feel fear. So imagine if some of those very same people could not experience fear. They would probably be even more reckless with their lives and the lives of those people in the cars, not having their fear to guide them.
This is also somewhat philosophical because if you think about it, if a person is unable to experience fear then does it mean that person also can’t experience a certain degree of concern? Is concern just a much lesser degree of fear?
(like some physical discomfort is a lesser degree of full-blown pain…?)
When I’m standing at a street full of speeding traffic and I’m safely on the pavement, it’s not full-blown fear I feel or even a lesser sense of anxiety. I know I’m safe so there’s nothing to fear. However, I do experience a certain degree of concern, enough to hold me back so I don’t go flying into traffic in a hurry to get across. Hmmmm…interesting.
My dad read a novel many years ago when I was a little girl, about a young woman who was born without the “fear gene.”. She never experienced fear a day in her life. I was fascinated but never read it. I remember my dad reading parts to me out loud. The character said she does not fear death or injury but she would never jump off a bridge or anything as she still knows what that can do. She doesn’t fear getting hurt but doesn’t want it. I can relate in some ways. I don’t “fear” getting a paper cut but I don’t want it. (perhaps desperately not wanting something IS some form of fear??) I don’t fear having a broken bone as long as it’s only a minor break of a less crucial bone but I sure don’t want it. I don’t fear any kind of surgery but would prefer not to have to undergo it. I’m not brave, necessarily, for not fearing this stuff. I’m just not naturally afraid of it. Fearlessness is not courage. Courage is feeling the fear but doing whatever it is anyway. That’s what it is to be brave. Being fearless isn’t. Like that quote about how superman isn’t really a hero in a way because he’s literally invincible, indestructible, the real heroes are you and me, who can be destroyed in many ways but still find it in us to go on, to take chances…
I’m assuming that fear means the full blown unpleasant feeling, not mere concern. The kind that makes you tremble, your heart pump like you want to run and run fast. There are different extents of fear, though, that I know of.
Some things I fear like that are: small closed in spaces, if I see someone nearly get hit by a car, if I think someone is about to die whether I know the person/animal or not, some amusement park rides (like the atmosfear – thing that drops) sleep paralysis, some hallucinations(I have psychotic depression), severe physical pain, going deaf(because of my facial pain disorder)…. and I used to be very fearful when my left arm would go dead because of my pain condition. I learned to tolerate it and no longer fear it.
Some things I don’t fear only because I know they can’t or probably won’t happen like: if I was the only human left on Earth, jumping out an airplane with a parachute (would probably terrify me, not thrill me), losing my sense of vision for a while. Because of my pain condition, I sometimes lose my hearing, sometimes completely and some occasions almost completely and have since I was a little girl before I knew why. I was always too afraid to tell my mom. It’s recurrent and the deafness and partial deafness lasts all different amounts of time, sometimes hours to a whole day, off and on. I never get completely used to it no matter how frequently it happens. I’m not as fearful when it happens as when I was a girl and young woman but it’s still very scary to lose a sense.
Imagine no ability to feel physical pain or any sort of physical discomfort? You wouldn’t know when your appendix is about to burst. You may not know if you’re having a heart attack or if you’re cut badly in a place you can’t see right away.
I don’t know about the lack of fear thing but I know there are people living with this very rare pain disorder. They often die prematurely because they cannot feel physical discomfort at all and can stay in one position for many hours which can result in damage to the body. They don’t naturally turn in their sleep. Unlike us with the ability to feel physical pain and discomfort, they have to learn when to move throughout the day and night to avoid muscle atrophy. We take it for granted and never have to learn. We don’t give it a second thought usually; we just mindlessly move at the first sign of pain or discomfort.
Many of us have heard of “those people who can’t feel physical pain” but we may have some serious misconceptions of this disorder.
They often don’t walk around exactly like people who can feel pain, with no extra problems. They have so much against them. They suffer serious and sometimes even deadly consequences.
When they’re children, they are often blinded and chew their own tongues off. They don’t realize the teeth going through their tongues and their own fingernails slashing their eyeballs. Parents often don’t know they have this disorder until this trauma occurs. They often have to have their teeth and fingernails removed or wear socks on their hands. Sometimes their eyes have to be removed because of the damage their fingernails cause. Many are in wheelchairs because of muscle/joint problems. They often can’t sweat and they overheat.
We naturally, often unconsciously, learn not to claw our eyes out and chew our tongues off because of pain & discomfort. No one usually has to teach us. Unfortunately for some, they do not have that gift.
They CAN feel emotional pain and other physical sensations, like massage and skin on skin contact.
They aren’t like those other people who have that other disorder and can’t feel anything physical because of some touch/feel/nerve problem/injury.
Imagine if you never felt anger. Not just being an easy going person who rarely gets angry and even when you do you control it well but imagine not having the ability to feel anger. I don’t know if anyone like this really exists but I imagine it can’t be all good. I suspect that if we all of a sudden could never experience anger, we may run into problems we never realized could happen. Anger may be serving other purposes we don’t even realize. We’re so used to having the ability we take it for granted.
Have you ever had something you never gave a second thought to then lost it and realized how much easier or better it really was making your life?
I know sometimes anger motivates me to act. To do what’s right. It fuels me to stand firm against things. For example, I remember an instance when I found that people were destructively criticizing me just to be unkind. I mostly felt paranoid and somewhat anxious and like a “victim” sort of.
But then anger crept in. But not the anger that destroys. That other kind. The kind that builds, fuels, the kind that gives me a backbone. Not the kind that made me want to retaliate. I did nothing at all to seek revenge on these people and did not care to but my anger for the situation helped me greatly. I thought “What the hell!! Let them talk, whatever they say is up to them, anyone can be criticized for whatever reason true or not. If I really wanted I can criticize too, I can if I want, do the same to them, they are wrong.” But I let it go. I let my anger give me life, let me rise above, even if only in my own head, instead of being the spineless jellyfish I was at first. They did not get over on me. Even though I did nothing back and never will.
And I did not get over on them. I just let it be. But in an active way.
My anger reminded me that I am equal no matter what they say. And anger, like fear, manifests in different degrees. A mild annoyance to a passionate fury.
Anger motivates us. And if we use it appropriately, it will motivate us to act/think for the better.
I want to be affected by the world and people, for good and for bad. I don’t want to build up walls. I want to feel as deeply as I can. If I feel unpleasant emotions as deeply as possible, I can feel the pleasant ones as deeply and experience the gift of life to the fullest.
Grief, loss, & rejection.
And about the pain of rejection and loss or grief. That shows us that one life or something impacted us. Touched us so deeply that we grieve over the loss or rejection. Don’t you want someone or something to impact you so deeply that it’s hard to say goodbye or hard to be pushed away? It shows that we’re open completely and that we had something to cherish at one point. And reminds us that it’s possible to feel that love again. And again. And again….
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~ A.A. Milne
It’s so much better than being numb.
Guilt. Remorse. Regret.
So many people say “I have no regrets and never will.” Advising us not to regret or feel guilt. I agree to a certain extent. It’s best not to dwell on guilt and regrets but it’s ok to have certain regrets and experience a temporary healthy level of guilt when we’re wrong. But we should (should in my opinion, I don’t like telling people what they ‘should’ do) forgive ourselves and move forward, not carrying a constant burden of guilt for life.
If we don’t have the ability to feel guilt and regret it’s possible, just like I mentioned about fear, we may occasionally act more recklessly. I’m not saying completely be a monster and destroy everything and everyone but guilt and regret can aid us in our actions sometimes.
There are some occasions we may know intellectually that something is wrong but as long as we don’t feel guilt, emotionally, we justify it.
For example: Some years ago, my sister and me went with my mom and dad on a fun trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary here in Philadelphia to learn about the old prison, historical facts and all. I saw a prison hoodie I desperately wanted. My sister did not care at first to get one as much as I did. But my dad bought her one since he bought me one. They are on the expensive side and I eventually ruined mine. My sister’s got packed away. When we were pulling stuff out to move, I found her’s. And kept it. Hoping no one would remember I ruined mine and just think that’s mine and hers went missing. Lol! At first there was no guilt. I knew intellectually it’s wrong but emotionally I couldn’t have cared less.
I’m generally not a thief and generally very honest. And in most cases I won’t do wrong stuff knowing it’s wrong even if I don’t feel guilt with my emotion. Feeling guilt isn’t just knowledge of being wrong but feeling it. Feeling it emotionally as opposed to just intellectually.
But I justified this in all ways imaginable. I told myself that I was really the one who wanted it. I wore mine more often than she wore hers til I ruined it. She did not care about it anyway, I told myself. She had it stored away. I got away with it.
But as the days would come and go, guilt crept up on me. I no longer only knew it’s wrong. I felt it. It wasn’t mine. Whether or not she really wanted her hoodie, whether or not I loved it more, the hoodie was never mine. I caved into my guilt and fessed up. My sister was pissed! She yelled at me and called me a lying thief who can never again be trusted.
And while the lying thief part was true for that occasion, it’s generally not. That doesn’t make it ok for that occasion but I did not let my guilt overcome me after I confessed. I admitted I was wrong and I eventually did what’s right.
My sister wouldn’t forgive me at first but I was able to forgive myself.
It doesn’t change what I did but at least I made it right, as right as I could after the fact.
A guilty conscience is good when you know you were really wrong!
But you can cleanse it by confessing and moving forward. Accept that you were wrong. It’s not the end of the world.
I read a self help mediation book, I forget the name, and the author said whenever she did something wrong she would say to herself, to ease her guilt “I was wrong, so sue me!”.
That’s great to a certain point!
We really shouldn’t go all out and do bad, destructive, immoral things though, just because we can say “…..so sue me!” But when we’re wrong and are genuinely sorry, we can move on or move forward.
I don’t dwell on regrets but having them is ok.
I wasn’t just wrong to my sister but to the universe, to life, to the world. I don’t want to be a thief, a sneak, a liar. That’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to put that kind of energy out into the world. It’s not who I am deep inside and when I act out of accordance with that, my conscience reminds me and won’t let me rest until I make it right. I want to be true. True to life and goodness and all that is right. I aspire to be all that is good and right and true. I won’t always know what that is. And occasionally I know different views will clash. What’s right to me may not be to someone else. What’s right in one situation may not be in another.
But it’s ok. I will live and learn. Accept and forgive, myself and others.
I believe painful emotions are ok, good, healthy even. But in moderation. In a healthy balance.
They can also help us empathize with and understand each other better because we can draw on our own experiences.
They’re inevitable at some points. We don’t have to intentionally inflict them upon ourselves and others.
We don’t have to go searching for pain and negativity. Anyway, there will be a plentitude throughout your days without searching!
As Dr. Steve Maraboli says “When you hate something, you chain yourself to it.”
It’s true, in my opinion but it’s not to say “hating” is wrong or unnatural and that we should never feel it. It simply means not to let the negativity get over on us by Dwelling on it. If you “hate” or strongly dislike something, let it motivate you to act for the better. Let hatred allow you to reach out in love.
It’s true I experience heartbreak everyday. When I hear of a person or animal dying or being seriously ill or hurt, even if I don’t know those who die or are hurt or sick. When I witness someone suffering. When I read about tragedy or heartbreak. When I remember sad things. When I know happy things will end. It’s painful and sad but it’s not bad to feel this heartbreak. It means I’m alive. Fully alive. It inspires and motivates me at a deeper level to reach out, to act out in love, to show greater compassion and provide consolation. To better understand.
To better appreciate all of life.
Let your painful and unpleasant emotions and feelings guide you in life along with your pleasant emotions and feelings and aid you in your actions. And let them remind you again and again that you are alive. And that’s a beautiful gift.
“While there is time let’s go out and feel everything” ~ Steve Winwood
I have been meditating more regularly than usual and have been doing more gratitude meditations, usually at night before sleep.
It has a serious, positive effect on me. Not just while I’m meditating but all day when I wake up. Even with less sleep I feel more energized, more alive, more awake, and aware. And more grateful.
During my meditations, I have been overwhelmed with powerful emotions coming over me, flooding into my consciousness. One emotion which has been so strong is grief. Grief over my dog who died in April this year of old age, grief over broken friendships, grief over people who died, grief over the years I “lost” to depression, grief over people I once knew and let slip away, grief over years gone away, into the light of yesterday…
I’m not exactly sure why this is. I know meditation has the tendency to bring about strong emotions which we have pent up inside, emotions we repress or deny. But I haven’t been denying my grief for the most part. I have grieved so hard over my losses, not denying them. But grief over a loss, especially a permanent one, is not easy for me to handle. There sometimes comes a point where my grief reaches a pinnacle so great, it’s too painful to bear so I do try to repress it, not deny it but just push it aside. Maybe my meditation practices are bringing to the surface of my consciousness, the remnants of initial grief I kept locked away.
It’s possible to repress things or have thoughts or feelings without even realizing at a conscious level. The experience of my grief flooding back to me during meditation is not bad, it’s good. It allows me to experience and release. It is painful though.
Also, I have been gaining some fascinating and deep insights about creativity, beauty, open-mindedness, and seeing various things in different ways, at different angles. I feel even more empathetic and compassionate than ever. More creative and enlightened, like the beginning of some awakening that’s difficult to put into words.
Everyday I acknowledge gratitude and being alive. Sometimes I just think of things I’m thankful to have and the fact that I’m alive. On other occasions I actually feel gratitude seeping into me at a deep level, flooding the cells of my body, tingling and sinking into the marrow of my bones, just flooding over me.
And I feel so alive, absolutely fully alive.
Sometimes this feeling comes on out of nowhere, other moments I can tap into it intentionally. And other occasions I feel ungrateful and not appreciative. Or numb, trudging around in a sense of stagnant drudgery.
I don’t have to just be happy to feel so alive. I have felt this in moments of grief and pain, anger, and heartbreak. Life is full of happiness and joy and also pain and heartache. So if we’re alive and fully receptive, we will experience it all. And it’s beautiful to feel so utterly alive.
I want to pull in and embrace every emotion and feeling that comes to me, snatch it up and hold it close while I can, even the painful ones, as they are an indication of life. So life-affirming.
I want to feel everything while I can.
I want to take full advantage of the gift of life, my blessing of being alive and conscious.
Since practicing these meditations more regularly I have been feeling the deep gratitude feeling more frequently each day, not just acknowledging things I have to be grateful for, but the feeling of gratitude living and breathing, dwelling in my cells, venturing through my veins and each artery, and each breath of my heart. The gratitude and life that breathes in me. The gratitude that floods my existence, caresses my very essence.
It’s so different than the depression & despair that generally consumed me for years.
How often do you truly feel alive? So alive that you can feel every sensation in your body and notice every thing outside of you? All the colors, feelings, textures, lights…of your external environment, the tingling in your toes and fingertips…so alive on a deeper level than what we usually feel everyday..
Even in monotonous moments and routine environments?
“I will live while I can, I will have my ever after” ~ Steve Winwood
“We go so fast, why don’t we make it last
Life is glowing inside you and me
Please take my hand, right here where I stand
Won’t you come out and dance with me
Come see with me, oh, come see” ~ Steve Winwood
One very interesting thing is I have been feeling somewhat distracted during meditation the last few nights. I usually do not have this problem too often but I have been, lately, so I have been doing, let’s say, “half-assed” jobs at meditating and still seeing incredible results. So imagine what I’m capable of when I get over my distraction and give it my all!
I have been struggling for a few days with not feeling very grateful as much as I possibly can. I have been having annoying technology problems with my phone that won’t allow me to do things that I do every day. Also, I just found out a man I have known for some years and talked to frequently, recently died, of a possible drug overdose and I am so sad. He was so friendly and outgoing and kind. He struggled off and on with alcohol and other drug addiction and attempted to get help on multiple occasions. But we lost this battle and it’s devastating. And my heart goes out to everyone impacted by this tragic loss.
And to everyone affected in any way by any kind of addiction. It is a devastating and heartbreaking struggle.
It’s often easy to feel and express gratitude when things are going well. But what about when it seems that everything is going wrong, all wrong, when we have a heavy heart, a broken heart, when the world seems to be crumbling on top of us? When we lose and lose again, sinking so low it feels we can’t go lower, then we do? That may be when we need gratitude the most. Maybe we won’t feel it purely but we can feel and express it to some degree if we try and practice.
It is possible to feel a slither of gratitude even in the midst of pain and anger. And that slither can be enough to keep us going.
I wrote this.
(Much of it is inspired by
which is created by Angela Carole Brown and is a brief meditation video for gratitude affirmations.)
I live in gratitude.
I breathe gratitude.
I am grateful everyday that I live and breathe.
Every day that I have a creative idea, a revelation, learn something new, and am able to let go of old limiting beliefs, I am grateful.
Every day that I face my fears or overcome obstacles, I am grateful.
Every moment that I am given awareness of the simplest of beauties, the opportunity to experience profound joy, and feel genuine happiness, I am grateful.
Every day that I stumble upon hidden treasures, I am grateful.
Every moment that I am enlightened and discover insights, I am grateful.
Every day that my heart feels compassion, understanding, patience, and peace, I am grateful.
Every day that I act upon love and compassion, I am grateful.
Every day that I Encounter and engage with another living being, I am grateful.
Every day that I am
Hugged, kissed, and loved, I am grateful.
Everyday that I
Laugh or make someone laugh
Inspire and am inspired
Hear of someone’s life being saved
Change someone’s life or someone changes mine, I am grateful
Every day I love, live, and breathe, I am grateful.
Every day my heart pumps, I am grateful.
Every day I witness, hear about, receive, or engage in an act of kindness, I am grateful.
Ever day my heart is overwhelmed in anger, pain, frustration, negativity, bitterness, and grief, I am grateful
Every moment that I act out in anger, I am grateful
Every moment that my heart is broken, I am grateful.
Each challenge, painful situation, every loss, setback, and failure provides opportunity to learn, to evolve, to get stronger, to become more aware, more compassionate of myself and others, to develop deeper empathy and I am grateful.
Everyday that that I am
Humbled by a mistake, a thing learned, a person who teaches me…I am grateful.
Everyday I am faced with
Seemingly unbearable pain, and struggles
I am grateful
Every day for Lessons learned, I am grateful
Every day that
I am Strengthened by pain, I am grateful
Every day for moments of
Quiet and reflection, I am grateful
Every day for stillness and calm within, without, I am grateful.
Every single day,
At every single moment
I am grateful.
This is Angela Carole Brown’s page.
Please check out her gratitude meditation youtube video. It’s so beautiful.
This is only seven minutes and forty-three seconds long.
It’s so inspirational and when practiced everyday can be life changing for the better!
She explains how gratitude even for unpleasant experiences is the way to go. A life with some pain and challenges is better than an “effortless ” life, as she says. Because we become stronger, wiser, more empathetic and compassionate, and learn many valuable lessons.
“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach
Much love & gratitude to you all!
And thank you for reading! 😀
“We must live while we can and we’ll drink our cup of laughter
The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be
I’ve been sad and have walked bitter streets alone
Come morning, there’s a good wind to blow me home
So time is a river rolling into nowhere
I will live while I can, I will have my ever after
The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be” ~Steve Winwood