We are much more than just the sum of the emotional energy churning within us. When you see a tree in a storm at night, you see the branches and leaves — the visible parts of the tree — being windblown so viciously that they seem on the brink of destruction. Yet despite all that wild wind, the root system and the trunk are solid and unmoving. Like the solid, sturdy trunk of a tree, regular mindfulness meditation practice can root us firmly in the earth and prevent our emotional storms from blowing us away.
In the grip of strong emotion, it’s crucial that we pause and recover our equanimity, our calm confidence, before making decisions or taking actions. The discomfort involved in being gripped by anger, confusion, despair or fear is so intense that we will say or do anything in the moment to relieve that sense of internal disequilibrium. The problem, of course, is that our critical faculties are overwhelmed by strong emotional states, and compromise our ability to make good decisions. What is needed is a mindful pause, a return to our breath, a return to our true nature as deeply rooted and grounded spiritual beings.
Once we’ve fully recovered our equanimity, we are qualified to take action, to speak. Now that the sand has settled to the bottom of the glass, the water is clear. Right action, right speech and right listening will all flow naturally, organically. Knowing what needs to be heard represents the summit of knowledge; knowing when to say what, and when to simply listen with laser-like focus, is the peak of wisdom.
Deeply mindful awareness helps us to fully experience our widely-various emotional lives without being overwhelmed by their extremes. We are more than our emotions, but experiencing them deeply and directly can be overwhelmingly liberating.
Image courtesy of SeRGioSVoX