It’s Monday, it’s a little grey, a little gloomy, and a little windy as rain punctures the air. When I woke up this morning at 6:30 am, it felt as though it were still midnight. However, the lights for my plant stand were just turning on, a timer set to mimic sunrise and sunset, a reminder that it was not midnight. I went downstairs and sat on the sofa, looking out at the trees still bathed in shadow as clouds hung heavy in the air. It wasn’t raining very hard but enough to hear the patter of raindrops against the metal roof. I sat in the semi-darkness of the morning, the plant stand lighting a corner of the room. It was quiet and introspective, a feeling I often have when the sky is filled with gray clouds absorbing much of the light of the sun. Rainy days remind me of emotions as the element of water is intimately connected to our experience of the feelings rising and falling within us. When water droplets that have formed within clouds become too heavy, they eventually fall to the Earth as rain. Emotions that build up eventually need to be released, dissolved, or transformed.
As I sat with my journal this morning, I was reflecting on various experiences that had come up over the past few weeks and with them, sensations and emotions. Some of these experiences were self-generated, others were the result of projections from others onto me. The most important thing I noticed was that I was not in a state of joy – an overall feeling of heaviness and dissatisfaction hung around me, like a dark gloomy cloud in the sky.
Before I could get back to joy, I needed to assess and process what I was thinking and feeling, eventually moving to a place of stillness and calm. You might be asking, how did I get back to that state of joy?
To begin, I took a shower. Water is both cleansing and healing. Water washing over the body physically removes the accumulation of dirt, dead cells, sweat, and so on. Energetically, a shower is also powerfully cleansing and healing. Water gives off negative ions which are actually the feel-good molecules we’re looking for! Think about how it feels after a big rainstorm, especially if you walk outside. The air feels vibrant and fresh! It’s a result of the air being charged with the feel-good negative ions!
Moving closer to joy I sat down with my journal. As I wrote in my book, Yoga and the Five Elements,
“a journaling exercise offers an opportunity to empty out the built-up emotions. In this way, built-up emotions are released rather than remaining stuck.”
Heeding my own counsel, thoughts flowed through the ink of the pen, absorbed by the paper in the journal. At the end of the process, I reached the stage where
“journaling becomes a vehicle for disengaging from thought and emotion, opening the door of possibility, and seeing things in a new light.”
At last, I reached the point where I was ready for another practice, dissolving a negative emotion with its antidote, a positive emotion. All emotions are messages from the Soul. These messages let us know how we’re reacting to and acting upon our inner and outer reality. All emotions are powerful, some perhaps more so than others. Certainly, the consequences of emotions if left unchecked, particularly negative ones such as anger, can create negative experiences.
I think of how wars are fought and lost all because someone’s ego was bruised because they didn’t like something that someone said or did. Smaller agressions happen daily but they nonetheless have the power to destroy trust and fellowship, such as neighbors in dispute over a fence or a driver cutting you off in traffic as they rush ahead. Rooted in likes and dislikes, they are reactions that in turn generate emotions such as anger and resentment. When they fester, they become like the expression:
“holding onto anger is the poison you drink expecting the other person to die.”
We face strong headwinds when anger and resentment are directed towards us. However, drawing upon the power of compassion and forgiveness not only opens the heart but also dissolves the negative energy around you, as a medicinal salve heals an open wound.
As soon as we tap into the power of compassion and forgiveness, we return ourselves to the energy and vibration of love. Feelings of stuckness dissolve and life starts to flow again with ease and satisfaction. Life force increases and with it, so does the feeling of joy.
"...the antidote is like medicine; the longer the treatment is applied, the more time it has to work through the system to heal the parts that need it."
Self-compassion is an act of kindness turned inward. Judging ourselves for having strong emotions just turns the wheel of karma again, only to find ourselves back where we started. Perfectionism is not allowing ourselves to learn and it is the harshest judge there is.
So, I'm off to make myself a cup of tea and eat a slice of cake that I baked yesterday, treating myself to my own kindness and sweetness. I hope you'll do the same for yourself.