Never fear shadows. They simply mean there is a Light nearby.
– Ruth E. Renkee

First things first, what are emotions? They are a feeling state that involves the body’s nervous system, the mind’s thoughts, and one’s behavioral/expressive responses.

Energy + Motion = Emotion

Emotions are another sense, if you will, that keep us engaged in the world. They range all the way from absolute bliss to utter despair. The positive end of the emotional spectrum is one we all wish to maintain, and the negative end is one we try to avoid and escape. This blog addresses how to clear and detach from the negative, difficult ones which cause unnecessary suffering.

blog3It may be easy to trace the origins of a difficult emotion or it can seemingly come out of nowhere. Say you have a very angry reaction to something a co-worker says to you, and you find yourself fuming all day and into your evening at home. Your whole day is consumed with the feeling of intense anger. Or you wake up in the morning feeling very sad for no obvious reason. It matters not whether it’s a reaction to an obvious trigger or a random out-of-nowhere emotion, either way you can clear and detach from it, if you choose.

Let us start with clearing the difficult emotion from the body. The steps are:

  • Acknowledge and feel the difficult emotion.
  • Locate where you feel it the most in your body
  • Breathe into your belly.
  • Accept and embrace the feeling with a sense of unconditional love for yourself while continuing to focus on breathing into your belly.
  • Allow the energy of the emotion to move into the belly.
  • Allow the feeling to release and drain out of your body from your belly, like water draining out of the tub.
  • You may need to cry or make sounds while releasing. It is important to allow sounds and tears to flow out of you.
  • Keep doing this until the intensity is gone.

The next step is the mental detachment. Detachment is not about aloofness, disregard or holding back from life.  Just the opposite, detachment is a cultivated awareness of what is present and freeing your mental energy from attaching to repetitive, negative thoughts. You can be detached while being fully engaged in the present moment with love, compassion and acceptance of what is. It is a mental letting go. Try this: squeeze one of your hands in a fist very tightly. Squeeze and squeeze until you feel discomfort. Now let go. That is detachment. Now notice how you tend to run negative stories about yourself, others, life, etc., and you keep repeating these stories over and over again. Now…let go.

Thoughts and emotions are in a constant feedback loop, and we cause much suffering for ourselves via the thoughts and stories we habitually, unconsciously repeat in the mind. Here is an example:

Sarah wakes up in the morning feeling deeply sad. She immediately begins to run stories in the mind about how much she lacks, how lonely she is, how she will never be happy, and she runs through all the scenes from her past of loss and betrayal. She is basically using her precious mental energy to further endorse her sadness and grief, and the whole day and days to come become a downward spiral of depression.

Using detachment, Sarah can:

  • Go through the process of clearing the emotions mentioned above.
  • Become conscious of the sad stories that begin running through her mind.
  • Choose to not attach to the stories and cease their continuous playback.
  • Meditate on the breath, bringing attention to the heart area while breathing and cultivating acceptance of the now moment.
  • Focus her mental energy, her thoughts, on that which is loving, harmonious, and positive in herself.
  • Let go and move forward.

Cultivating and practicing the tools of clearing and detaching are key to creating a happy and fulfilling life. Imagine if these tools were taught to all our children in our schools and homes and places of worship. There would be no more bullying, which is a behavior stemming from a child not knowing what to do with their painful emotions. There would be higher emotional intelligence, which is the ability to understand and consciously regulate one’s emotions, leading to greater empathy, compassion, physical, and mental health. There would be less suffering and more peace in the world.

Begin with yourself, within your own life, for your own sake, and let your peace and happiness ripple out into your family, community, and beyond.