Emotion as Sensation

Here’s a different Perspective entirely – the more the better!  

We’ve talked some about Experiencing Emotions as Energy in our Bodies, but Stephen Levine here adds the possibility of Experiencing them as Sensations in our Body – maybe as a Pressure or a Hardness in our Solar Plexus rather than an “Energy Build-Up.”  Or a Shimmering or Vibrating on our Belly rather than an “Energy Bolus” in our Second Chakra.

Here’s Stephen (Turning toward the Mystery, pp.52-53)…

“When in the course of my soul-searching I first heard of and sought in meditation my ‘inner child,’ I sank through a level or two and found instead my shadow child, the hungry ghost.

“Where I thought its heart would be there was a great emptiness.  Not the spiritual emptiness I had hoped for, which dissolves all boundaries and removes all separation, but exactly its opposite.  I found psychological emptiness, which finds all too readily the boundaries long ago constructed and constantly reinforced, within which resides a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, and a pervasive vacuity.  All that wished to remain unborn.

“When I turned toward the mystery seeking to at last complete my birth, I found that child who wished he was never born, still strapped all these years in that high chair, afraid to put his feet down on the ground.

“Continuing the great treasure hunt for my life, I slowly introduced this more bewildered-than-angry ghost to the possibility of breaking the narrow confines of his imprisoned self-image.

“This mindful investigation gradually became able to work with even quite painful emotions.  As I focused on the feelings generated when I approached the child lost within, it became quite evident that every emotion, every state of mind, has its own distinctive body pattern.

“Even when that child’s residual fear or anger turned to terror or rage or when any ‘afflictive’ emotion predominated, I could approach it with mercy and awareness, without being distracted by its seductive thinking, by focusing first on the concomitant sensations each state generated in the body’s field of sensation.  When focused, I could follow my child’s states of mind wandering through the body.

“Observing in detail first its body pattern – this is a good example of relating to an object in consciousness instead of from it, breaking habitual identity with that state of mind – I was able to relate to this child instead of as this child, able to note his thoughts and feelings.  And eventually recognized their incessant coming and going as a natural, actually impersonal process.  In the stillness of meditation, I cold see the energies of which these thoughts and feelings were composed, and meet them with mercy instead of fear and judgment.

“When we receive emotion as sensation, the resistance that maintains the censor band between levels of consciousness falls away and the healing enters deeper.

“In the course of this very gradual rebirthing, one day in meditation the shadow child came into view in the guise of an already world-weary, entirely untrustworthy twelve-year-old street hustler.

“Although he preferred to be related to with fear and judgment so as to make himself all the more real, I tried to relate to him, rather than from him

“Acting as a completely autonomous personage, he turned toward me, the watcher, and actually tried to sell me a used car.”

The story continues, and actually gets better.

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