Sweet Sorrow


Normally we label our emotions to be good or bad.  We strive for cheerful sentiments and repel negative feelings if we can.  This seems very natural, after all it’s the way we are conditioned.  But is another perspective possible?

Whenever anything enters our awareness, we immediately coat it with all kinds of filtering, conditioning, judgements, evaluations, and analysis.  Even with vision, the raw perception is flat, without dimension.  Our minds layer in the depth of field and fill in the gaps for anything missing in the field of vision.  All of this happens so quickly that we assume the object of awareness is the same as the mental overview.  But with the slowing down process of practices like meditation, we can separate the component parts in this process.  You can literally perceive the flat image gain depth and distance, it’s quite extraordinary when it first happens.

It is the same with our emotional lives.  The feelings come, and give rise to emotions, upon which we build our judgements which can sometimes turn into a feedback loop.  If we can develop the ability to see these processes happen, as an observer would, we can hack the system.


There are at least 25 categories of emotion.  But let’s just take one for illustration.  Sorrow is a good one to explore.  The snap judgement of sorrow arising is that it is a negative emotion and should be repelled.  But the insight is that resisting anything will only make it grow stronger.  Any emotion should be dealt with love and sitting in with.  Many of us are not yet able to be as open and welcoming as that, but we can begin with a lighter emotion like sorrow or a light sadness.  What happens when we drop the judgement and just sit with the sorrow for a few minutes.  Set the event itself aside, the spark isn’t as important as the energy it releases.  Perceive the pure emotion in all of its subtlety.  A very helpful practice to draw this out is journaling.  What would happen if we just let the sorrow speak, jotting it all down as if we were a third party observing?  We are not our emotions.  Can we be the neutral pure awareness (hint: that is what we are anyway, that is our True Self).  If we can do this honestly and with love, we might just begin to taste the subtle sweetness in sorrow.  That is the life sap that runs deep within all emotions, we’ve tasted the energy.  If we can perceive that inner vibrancy of our emotional ripples, life becomes a smorgasbord of a feast, like a gourmet course.  We become ever more curious about what might arise next and welcome it as part of this human experience.

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