Positive and negative emotions and enlightenment

Came across this quote today from Adyashanti.

It is important that we know what awakening is not, so that we no longer chase the by-products of awakening. We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening is not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. ~ Adyashanti, “

Over the last year or so, I have been slowly coming around to this point of view.

The bliss and joy that meditators can experience are seductive. It’s easy to believe that this is what you should feel, that this is the goal of meditation, to feel good, to feel love, joy, and bliss. It’s easy to desire — and become attached to — positive emotional states.

That’s identification.

We can use EFT to tap away negative emotions, believing them undesirable, wanting them to go away. Yet we experience them. They are part of “life as it is.”

Rather than putting so much energy into avoiding them, I am at the point (most of the time) where I am willing to experience and explore them — the feeling component in my body, the mental component of the story I tell myself, and what’s true.

If emotional states only last a couple of minutes at most, I think I can bear that. Avoiding them gives them power. Allowing them to exist just lets them be what they are, transient conditions of being human and having a nervous system, seeking to make meaning out of what we experience.

That’s disidentification.

I notice I am tempted to add that while I am willing to experience negative emotions and explore them, please, I don’t want too many!

I say feel emotional states when they arise, and notice that they too are transitory. Without a story, what happens?

Pema Chodron advises:

When you refrain from habitual thoughts and behavior, the uncomfortable feelings will still be there. They don’t magically disappear. Over the years, I’ve come to call resting with the discomfort “the detox period,” because when you don’t act on your habitual patterns, it’s like giving up an addiction. You’re left with the feelings you were trying to escape. The practice is to make a wholehearted relationship with that.

Bliss, discomfort, part of the path of accepting what is. 
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About Mary Ann Reynolds

Blogging about body, mind, heart, spirit, and well-being at The Well: bodymindheartspirit. Offering bodywork and changework, specializing in Ashiatsu barefoot massage and craniosacral therapy. Also a former Truth Be Told board member now serving as a volunteer editor for the Truth Be Told Community blog, serving women behind and beyond bars.
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