Most of us experience emotional highs and lows. It can be exhausting. A common response is to try to think positive, and push painful thoughts and experiences to the back of our minds. Unfortunately, the pain is still there and will reappear at some point.
When I run workshops I often ask people to recall a painful memory or emotion. If I ask them where it is in their body, they can almost always locate it. If I keep enquiring, they can often tell me how big it is and so on. These painful memories continue to shape our lives.
Fortunately, there is a solution, which comes from the tradition of Advaita (meaning ‘not-two’), also known as non-duality. The underlying principle is that there is no separation. Ultimately, we realise that “I am everything and everything is me”.
So the way to deal with the apparent highs and lows is to embrace everything that arises in your experience. Every thought, feeling or sensation is a wave. You are the ocean. The waves come and go. They crash against the shore. You are unchanged. Deep down, you are still*.
Next time something happens that upsets you, don’t dismiss it, push it away, repress it or try to focus on the positive. Instead, feel each emotion deeply.
Close your eyes and turn your attention within your body. Where is the feeling located? How big is it? Maybe it has a colour, a shape or a texture.
Accept that this feeling is present in your body. Accept the fact that you are feeling it. Don’t try to do anything about it.
Maybe you’re resisting the feeling, instead of accepting it. If so, you can accept your resistance too.
After a while the feeling may go – or not. Maybe it will go, and then come back. Welcome it as a visitor.
With a little practice we can learn to welcome every wave. As we do so, we relax, let go and accept everything deeply. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care what’s happening, or do anything about it. On the contrary, once we accept at the deepest level, the right action will come at the right time. Life becomes much more satisfying and enjoyable.
*Hence the term ‘going deep’, which some people use to describe their experience during meditation.