Did you choose those feelings or did they happen on their own? Noticing where and how feelings and emotions arise in us can be the key to unlocking the great potential that these deep feelings have. When we discover their source we also discover their purpose, and we see how they can enrich our lives each day. The point of this experiment is not about choosing your original reaction, nor is it about rejecting it. The exercise simply gives you permission to look at your emotional responses in a new light. Shining a light on what you are feeling right now and contemplating how those feelings arose is like turning a dial inward to your inherent state of freedom. It’s not important that you choose the original feeling or not. Instead, make the empowering discovery that you can choose how to be with your feelings, now.
The power to explore our inner landscape of emotions offers us a new perspective on what it means to be human, a perspective that gives us the freedom to embrace all of the opportunities available to us in the human form.
Moving your focus from “this is happening to me” to “I am choosing this” is a subtle shift in attitude that can spill into all areas of your life, changing your relationships and career for the better. For example, notice the difference between the statement “I am sad again, why does this always happen to me?” and “I feel sad. I choose to feel sad for now. It will eventually pass.”
In this way we can teach ourselves how to enjoy the multidimensional aspects of emotions. We can learn how emotion contains the power to free us and lead us into a deeper experience of life. To sit down and choose to feel sad, even for ten minutes, allows for a deeper understanding of sadness. In this closer examination, we can begin to discover the different threads of energy that are woven together to create the experience we call “sadness.” When we choose an emotion to explore and spend some conscious time with it, the emotion itself can begin to unpack and reveal other qualities that we may have missed at first glance. Sometimes emotions are intense, and so it’s easy to overlook all the good qualities because we don’t like the uncomfortable ones. However, by finding the power within us to be with discomfort, we can dive deep into an emotion and discover all of its different facets; threads of love, sweetness, beauty, passion and loss that have all meshed together in one place. This can be a wonder to behold, instead of an experience to suffer through.
The Journal of the Scapegoat
One day I was meditating on feelings of powerlessness and helplessness that had arisen after a difficult life situation, and I was given a beautiful vision of how to bring this idea of conscious choice more fully into my life.
Today I was sitting with some heavy energies after a very difficult exchange with a dear friend. I was feeling rejected, cast out and helpless.
I had recently learned about the origin of the term “scapegoat” during a seminar, and my current situation felt just like that. In the old days, the villagers would pin the sins of the community onto a goat, and then banish it in order to be free from their sins. In my circumstance I felt like the scapegoat. In deep meditation, I began to attune to the energies within the feeling, rather than circling around them in the “poor me” story that I had been previously playing out in my mind.
I decided to see what would happen if I let go of resistance and chose to be the scapegoat willingly. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try, and felt I had indulged in my mental suffering long enough. It was time to try something different. So I chose to visualize myself as this literal goat, with my friends pinning all their sins onto me before sending me away. I made the conscious choice to carry the ‘sins’ for them to find out what that would be like. I decided to approach this from a place of curiosity rather than judgment.
I continued to sit with the moods that were arising; I felt singled out, rejected, and powerless. At some point, as I was diving into these feelings and choosing to experience them fully, the question arose; “where is this even happening?” I realized that it is happening nowhere. My point of view shifted from this event that was happening “to me,” to an event that was not even happening at all in this moment. This realization allowed the story to fall away, and the feelings to be explored as energy and sensation that had very little personal meaning “about me.”
After a few minutes of sitting in that energy, the image shifted. The goat I was imagining as me stumbled into a new village and was welcomed there. In making my conscious choice, the dream image actually changed from something very scary and uncertain into something new and beautiful.
I realized during this meditation that there is a subtle difference between letting someone else choose what is happening to me, and choosing to take on a role in life, like a part in a play. In choosing to play the part of the scapegoat, it were as though I’d been given an avatar in a video game. And even though I may not have liked how that avatar looked, I do like to play this game called life on Earth. Seeing life from this enlarged perspective inspired me to choose to play the part I was given, and to play it as well as I possibly could. My focus shifted from my personal story, to a more impersonal side of conscious experience.
It felt as if I passed a level of the game that day, and something new and unexpected opened up. I saw how easy it is to shift my point of view from a powerless game piece, to the master gamer who is playing a game. A newfound fascination was unlocked in me, the fascination of having a thing called a body, a mind, and the ability to feel emotions.
Over the next few weeks following this meditation, I began to notice a difference in how I experience being rejected. Instead of it being something bad, I could instead see it more like a right of passage; just like a baby bird that gets thrown out of the nest and is then free to start the new life of an adult bird, free to explore and discover a new chapter of its life. Sometimes, these new chapters feel so different that they can seem a little scary at first. As old ideas are dropped I tend feel a bit raw and unprotected, but the benefit of turning to a new page is that limitless possibilities suddenly open up.
Meditation for Fighting Victimized Feelings
I recently discovered an amazing inner “trick” that easily shifts my inner state from feeling powerless over my emotions, to being empowered and free with my emotions. The key is to take notice of the feelings behind the thoughts. If you are reading this article on your smart phone, feel free to record yourself reading the following meditation, or get a friend to read it to you. Then sit back and close your eyes.
Take three deep breaths and relax into your body.
As you still your body, notice what thoughts are running through your mind.
Move your awareness closer to that thought, and notice what it feels like to think that thought.
Focus in on that feeling, see if you can locate where it sits in your body.
Hold that part of your body in awareness for a few breaths now.
Notice all the qualities this feeling has, pleasant or unpleasant, heavy or light, warm or cold. Notice if you like it, or if you don’t like it.
It’s helpful to remind yourself during this exercise that all feelings come and go, so if what you feel in this moment is unpleasant, it will pass. And if this feeling is very pleasant, it will also pass.
Now that you have located a feeling and are holding it with awareness in your body, take a moment to choose to feel this sensation one hundred percent. (Pause here for a moment and notice what that’s like)
Just as in an experiment, take a moment to resist the feeling, or to try to make it different than what it is. (Pause here for a moment and notice what that’s like)
Now go back to choosing the sensation and see how it is different.
If the feeling is unpleasant, see if you can find at least one positive quality to the feeling.
What did you discover? How did it feel to resist the sensation, and how did it feel to embrace it? Personally, I find that in embracing my feelings they are given more room and tend to dissipate quickly.
You may find that, in order to fully choose a sensation that is uncomfortable, something may be needed first. It may be a belief that needs to be loosened, or a reminder to yourself that you are safe. If you found that this exercise was pleasant, then keep going with it, and watch what changes in your life as you continue to choose to embrace what you feel. We may not be able to choose our circumstances in life, but we are always free to choose our attitude towards life, and we are especially free to choose whether or not to embrace what we feel or whether to resist it. There is an up side and a down side to each feeling and each experience, and you have the ability to choose which side to focus on in any given moment.
* Please note the term victim within the context of this article refers to a state of mind or attitude towards life in general. It does not refer to innocent people or animals that have experienced acts of violence or dominance imposed on them.