Miriam Greenspan’s article, The Dark Side of the Sacred, comes to us from integral praxis.

Emotions live in the body. It is not enough simply to talk about them, to be a talking head. We need to focus our attention on emotions where they live. This willingness to be present allows the emotion to begin to shift of its own accord.

Her three step process shows us how to free ourselves from their grasp:

  1. “Paying attention to or attending to our emotions is not the same as endless navel gazing and second-guessing ourselves. It is mindfulness of the body, an ability to listen to the body’s emotional language without judgment or suppression.”
  2. “Befriending follows from focusing our attention and takes it a step further: it involves building our tolerance for distressing emotions.”
  3. “The third skill, surrendering, is the spiritual part of this process. Surrendering to suffering is usually the last thing we want to do, but surrender is what brings the unexpected gifts of wisdom, compassion, and courage. Surrendering is about saying yes when we want to say no — the yes of acceptance. This is what really allows the alchemy to happen. We don’t “let go” of emotions; we let go of ego, and the emotions then let go themselves.”

All good, and only slightly different from what I’d recommend. If emotions are essentially the meeting of mental activity in the body, step three should take care of the whole thing? In other words, meeting whatever is arising without moving (neither into nor away from) offers us Freedom. This is letting go not only of any emotion, no matter how dark, but it is also letting go of the ego that gives birth to the emotion in the first place.

What do you think?

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