5 Steps to Finding True Joy and Removing Your Sorrows
"Nobody really cares if you're miserable, so you might as well be happy."
Note: This guest post was written by personal development blogger Albert Foong. You can check out his website here.
Many authorities, from psychologists to spiritual teachers have agreed on this part; much of what we undertake in our lives revolve around the pursuit of happiness.
And this is going to be a very bold statement to make; but many of us are going about it the wrong way. Most of us find happiness by running towards something — entertainment, romance, work, alcohol.
But you can already guess what I'm going to say next. Those activities are shaky — for we are merely running away from something.
Finding true happiness comes from turning around and facing everything that makes us sad, angry, and anxious. And once we take care of the nightmares, the darkness within, the dreams will follow of their own accord.
how do we face our sorrows?
How do we do this? It comes as surprising, for it is just in front of us — just completely being with your negativity, non-judgementally, without acting on it. Emotions are meant to be felt. That's all they are supposed to do — it's so natural. Just welcome them, and let them pass.
The ancient spiritual traditions call it mindfulness, Presence. The western psychologists call it just sitting with it, getting in touch with it.
I've spent years in depression and sorrow, simply because I've been trying to fight my negativity, hide from them, run away from them. Most of us have a store of negative emotions inside. We carry them around all the time, as wounds that are still open inside us. This is why insults hurt so much, they are just words, but they have touched some scar inside your being.
And yet it is so simple to set ourselves free from them.
This is not strictly a meditation, and can be done anytime. But to get used to it, and to prove its effectiveness, please just spend five minutes now. I know sometimes things like these go straight back on to the shelf, but you stand to lose five minutes, and potentially gain the world. I used this to get out of a depression that lasted years, so I guarantee it works.
Realise that emotions of all sorts, from anger to fear, are merely energy. The most important thing is to separate ourselves. We are not our emotions. We are not depressed; there is sadness in us. We are not cocky; there is pride in us.
2. Body awareness.
Once we are aware of these emotions, these energies, simply welcome them. Feel them through your body, not through your mind — don't think about them! What does it feel like? My anger, for instance, feels like a heat, a tightness in upper torso. My anxieties and fears feel cold and clammy, together with a lot of nausea.
3. Don't think about them.
Thinking about your emotions, on the other hand, makes you want to act on them. "I hate him! I feel so insulted, so misunderstood!" That is the danger of the story, and can cause you to hurt someone. Please don't. Some physical reactions are acceptable though — crying, trembling, or vomiting.
4. Bring up your emotions.
If you have to, start by bring to mind an issue you are struggling with, and feel the energy that lies underneath it. Coax up as much as you feel comfortable handling.
5. Welcome it.
Next, just welcome it fully into your awareness. It is just energy, it is neither good nor bad — it just is. Welcome it, relax into it. Your body might tense up, your breathing might change — but relax your body, breathe easily. Just let it be there, without judgement. Often, you'll find that it simply dissipates when you relax your body and allow yourself to feel it. Spend a few minutes allowing the feeling to be there. If you want, take a deep breathe, and imagine that the energy is carried out with your out-breath.
And that's it. How can it be so simple? The answer is right in front of us — emotions are there to be felt. They are as much as part of us as our bodies are; and denying them is self-violence. Accepting them, love them, welcome them.
deepening your practice
It is recommended that you start with a small annoyance, to prove to yourself that it works. If this is something you want to practice, keep a diary of your benefits. Bigger issues take a lot more work, and can often make one give up before they get there — they forgot that it works.
Once you have discovered the power of this method, then it is normal you would want to explore more deeply into your being. Here's one way: Why do we hurt? The boss calls you lazy, calls you useless, calls you stupid. There must be something inside you, some unhealed wound that he has touched.
I remember the arguments I had with an ex-girlfriend. She was screaming and shouting, but I didn't even blink. I responded calmly, and tried to calm her down. But when her tone got snide, cocky — that was when I felt my fire arise. Why? It brought up some deeper pain — speaking down to me, perhaps it hit a feeling of insecurity about my value as a respectable person.
And yet a drunkard comes up to you on the streets — your hair is hideous, he yells, it's green and purple! Where would the emotional distress be then? There is nothing in you for him to hit.
So: Go backwards into yourself. Find the original wound, or perhaps the insecurity, and bring your attention on it. Lovingly, non-judgementally, just bring your focus on it. And that focus is already the healing, the beginning of the transformation. It might take a long time, but you are worth it.
how your mind fights it
Facing these deeper wounds is scary. You've been running from them your entire lives, and now turning around and looking them in the eye can be difficult.
For deeper pains — your mind doesn’t want to face them; it cannot handle the demons it has chosen to shut away; it wants to keep running.
There are many ways your mind tries to fight it. When you are facing a deeper issue, sit through it all:
Societal "shoulds" and "should nots". These often get in the way: Men don't cry, women don't rage. Pure instinct. When you see a gruesome accident on the road, you grimace and look away. It is the same with your internal wounds. Repression. You are pushing it away yourself. Remember that you have to welcome the pain, not push it away by saying "come on, I'm feeling you already, now go away!" Boredom. The mind tells you that it is bored, think about something else. Denial. The mind tries to convince you the pain is a good thing, or it is already healed. Force. The mind tries to draw you away with irrelevant thoughts, or an intense desire to do something else.
I'm honoured to be able to guest post here at the Ririan Project. This post, while short and simple, represents the biggest gem I've uncovered in my journey out of suffering, and I'm happy Ririan has given me a chance to bring it to a wider audience.
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