“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
The Miracle of Mindfulness
In The Miracle of Mindfulness, a friend of author Thich Nhat Hanh recounts a story of how the Vietnamese Buddhist monk was speaking at a church, when an audience member scornfully reprimanded him. The significant part of the story is the skillful way Hanh responded to the resulting feelings of anger he experienced and the subsequent effect this had on his response to his rebuker. He didn’t deny, suppress or minimize his feelings. In fact, Hanh admitted that he had wanted to respond to the man with anger – he felt the full force of this emotion. However, he used his connection to his breath to allow the anger to pass through him, so he could respond with calm and understanding.
This story provides a powerful example of emotional mastery and flow – particularly, the practice of mindfully allowing ourselves to feel troubling emotions with acceptance and compassion and process them so they pass through us. Although not traditionally associated with the physical aspects of business, emotional mastery (along with mastery of our thoughts) energetically underpins the flow of clients and money into our businesses.
The question is, how do we develop emotional mastery? Like everything in life, it’s a practice. If we were to deconstruct emotional mastery, we would see that it’s an inner process involving three core parts:
1) cultivating the neutral witness within;
2) learning how to feel and accept our emotions; and
3) processing and surrendering our emotions.
Cultivating the Neutral Witness
Some spiritual teachers call the unbiased presence within us the “Neutral Witness”, others call it the “Detached Observer”. I like calling it the “Compassionate Witness or Observer”, because the idea of having a Compassionate Witness creates a greater feeling of inner safety for me. In order to allow ourselves to feel our feelings, we have to, first, feel safe inside to do so. This requires developing a Neutral or Compassionate Witness within – an inner friend who will not shame, judge and “make it wrong” for us to be experiencing certain emotions; an observer who will simply notice what’s arising, without the polarized negative or positive bias of everyday awareness.
So, how do we access this Compassionate, Neutral Witness within? We can start by setting the intention that we’ll do so and, then, offer up a prayer requesting that we connect with this part of ourselves. Practices such as Anapana Sati (meditating on in-and-out breathing) and Yoga can help us develop our capacity to move into the consciousness of the Compassionate, Neutral Witness. Another practice I find helpful is to visualize my Compassionate Witness as an inner entity who is non-reactively watching what’s going on inside me.
Denying or suppressing our feelings is pervasive in our society and world. For many of us, it’s an ingrained habit we rarely notice. Yet, by creating a safe, inner environment for experiencing emotions (accessing the Compassionate, Neutral Witness) and cultivating our awareness in the moment, we can notice when emotions are coming up that we habitually repress, and choose another response.
We can learn how to feel our feelings by:
- noticing when we resist a feeling and how it feels as we try to show up in the world in a way that’s different from how we’re feeling;
- keeping a daily “feelings journal”: writing down what we’re feeling in the moment or taking a “feelings inventory” at the end of each day;
- finding the feelings in our bodies through somatic tracking or body scans, noticing any physical signs of unacknowledged emotions and naming those feelings; and
- discerning what happiness, anger, sadness, hurt, fear and shame (and associated emotions) feel like in our bodies.
As we learn how to feel our feelings, with our Compassionate Neutral Witness observing, we naturally release our tendencies to resist or suppress our emotions and start accepting them instead, which fosters integration and flow.
Processing and Surrendering Our Emotions
Allowing ourselves to feel and accept our emotions, with the help of the Witness, is often all that’s needed to process them and enable them to pass through us. However, sometimes, we need additional help to process and surrender these emotions at a deeper level. This is the stage where additional exploration and other energy/spiritual healing practices or tools can be very valuable.
Spiritual bypassing occurs when we unconsciously use Spiritual Truth and practices to avoid dealing with our human, shadow side – to resist painful, difficult feelings we have, unresolved wounds and unmet developmental needs from our past. The irony is that we can, also, consciously use these principles and practices to help us accept and integrate the disowned parts of ourselves, feel what wants to be felt and process what wants to be processed.
When we use Spiritual Truth and energy/spiritual healing practices to support our emotional bodies, we surrender our emotions to the power of Grace. Grace is the unconditional love and support of the Universe. We can’t change without it, and we connect with it when we use our spiritual practices and tools consciously. Transformation happens when we ask Grace to enter our lives to help us experience integration and balance.
Practising emotional mastery is important to conscious business owners, like you and me, because it opens up ALL the energy flows in our businesses, including the visible flows of clients, money and other material resources. Also, it helps us to access our Higher Guidance and supports us in operating our businesses from the wisdom of the heart.
What are your thoughts about emotional mastery and your business? I’d love to hear them!
© Copyright 2011 Mary C. Davis, ANAM TURAS. All rights reserved.
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