Our emotional and physical bodies are filled with the challenges of experience. We think we will die from grief, or shame, or sadness, or anger, or fear. When we feel like we are caged, we may mentally and emotionally thrash against our cages.
To directly experience whatever you are feeling, however challenging it may be, first suspend all of your judgments about that feeling. Normally our thoughts are busy taking our feelings and telling a story of justification or blame. When we interrupt or suspend our thoughts about any particular feeling, the feeling can be directly experienced. Then you can dive into and under that feeling. If you choose to directly experience what is appearing in your emotional experience, you will find peace and fulfillment deep inside.
Most of us have never developed a strong enough mind to self-reflect, to ask a question such as, “What am I telling myself in this moment?” “What have I told myself for the last decade on my life?” Those questions are the beginning of self-reflection and self-reflection strengthens the mind. Inquiry builds the muscle of self- reflection. More and more, it will be natural for you to simply recognize, “I’m telling myself the same old story.” The story, “I am wrong or they are wrong” or “I should be punished or they should be punished” or “I should be somewhere else, they should be somewhere else.”
Recognizing that, there is a moment that is yours to choose. It’s a moment of opening. Whatever the feeling underneath the storyline, whatever the feeling that energizes the storyline or keeps the storyline in place to protect you from your own feelings, it’s all suspended and you directly experience whatever is here. You dive into that and under that. You may discover sadness under fear or anger under grief, or joy under fear. There’s no correct agenda for what you will experience.
In your willingness to directly experience what is appearing without telling any story about it, you will develop deep strength of mind. You will experience your true heart, your pure beingness, radiant and always free.
This is a challenge to most people. I appreciate this challenge. I have had to meet this challenge myself. Surprisingly, it is only a challenge when you are resisting feeling something. It’s actually quite simple when you simply open and experience whatever you may be feeling emotionally or physically. I am not suggesting you act out whatever you’re feeling, not at all, the opposite of that. You don’t act it out and you don’t deny it to yourself. You don’t cover it so that you feel better. You simply open. The strong mind opens, and gets stronger and can open to more. Until finally what you are opening to is opening itself. The open, free mind, that is not separate from your heart. Not separate from life itself, but can know itself as that heart, as that life.
Gangaji is the author of The Diamond in Your Pocket, Freedom & Resolve: Finding Your True Home in the Universe, You Are That, and Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story.
I first knocked on Papaji’s door in Hardiwar, India, in April 1990. Opening the door himself, he greeted us with a huge smile and flashing eyes. He opened his arms uninhibitedly and, nearly shouting, he cried out, “Welcome!” Over the days and weeks to come, I watched him offer this same welcome to whoever appeared at his door for satsang.