The River of Feelings

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“There is a river of feelings within us, and every drop of water in that river is a feeling. To observe our feelings, we sit on the bank of the river and identify each feeling as it flows by. It may be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. One feeling lasts for a while, and then another comes. Meditation is to be aware of each feeling. Recognize it, smile to it, look deeply into it, and embrace it with all our heart. If we continue to look deeply, we discover the true nature of that feeling, and we are no longer afraid, even of a painful feeling. We know we are more than our feelings, and we are able to embrace each feeling and take good care of it.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo: © Yvonne D. Williams

For some reason this Thich Nhat Hanh quote stuck in my head when I read it because I know what he is referring to—I’ve felt it myself—the stepping out of intense feeling, no matter how painful it may be, and simply watching it flow over us as we remain sitting on the bank in silence before the enormity of the water passing through on its journey elsewhere.

If you aren’t sitting a part from it on the bank, that “River of Feelings” is a flow we continually ride—sometimes in a kayak gliding above the water and sometimes in an inner-tube with half our body immersed into it.kayakriverswirl67.jpg

So for us to say that we do not “feel” something emotionally is to say that we are riding the kayak as we skim the waves while still feeling the froth of turbulence. We may bob around a bit with emotion, but we’ve elevated our heads above the water and as long as we remain upright, we know that we won’t drown.

Inversely, when we are immersed in the feeling, we become the feeling and may struggle for our lives; clinging tightly to our inner-tube to keep our heads above water—for fear it drowns us with wave after wave of intense, gut-clenching emotion.

tube on river67Grief is an inner-tube type feeling. So is rage. It’s easy to be swamped when you immerse yourself in those feelings.

Some would say depression is such a feeling, but I believe that depression isn’t really a feeling as much as it is the result of losing the inner-tube completely and accumulating body fatigue from continually treading water without relief in sight.

So what is the difference between riding the kayak and sitting on the bank?

The kayak provides an experiential option for riding the feelings we naturally have during the course of our lives. It gives us buoyancy and distance from the worst of the emotional waves sloshing about us.

The bank is an entirely different perspective on emotional impaction. From the bank you do not participate in the feeling, you only observe it as it comes and goes, and try not to judge its rightness or wrongness; its power or onriverbank45.jpgaffectation on you.  You acknowledge it as it impacts you and note what is being felt, but you let it go—you let it move on and away without clinging to it—without wallowing in it or calling it back to re-experience, over and over.

It’s not easy sitting on the bank and observing your own river of feelings; and sometimes it’s hard to even find a kayak from which to navigate the powerful river of emotions that we feel.  At times when life takes a tumultuous turn for us, we feel fortunate enough to simply have that inner-tube to help keep our heads above the overwhelming waves.

What I think Thick Nhat Hanh was saying in this quote is that observing from the bank (meditation) is the far safer option for dealing with intense feelings, because it allows the greatest perspective on the river of emotion itself that we must experience over the course of our lives.

As humans, we will have good days and bad ones—people will come to us and then leave us through disagreements, grievances or death.

During the course of our lives, we make efforts to achieve or acquire what we do not have, and those efforts are sometimes successful and sometimes not.

We love and we lose love.

We agree and disagree with others, and feel both great joy and great fear at many aspects of life, including our own mortality.

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But during the course of our lives, that river of feelings flows on and on, over familiar ground or new ground—but it keeps moving onward until we individually feel no more and merge again with the Great Ocean of Consciousness that logs “all feelings” as simply a part of the living experience.

So keep your inner-tube always handy, and find a kayak when you can do so to keep your head higher above the waves; but if possible, try instead the view from the bank for its safer, broader perspective, and simply allow that emotional river to flow on by without judgment or clinging.

I know—easier said than done—but it IS possible to do it. Trust me on this one.

 

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How People Think

I saw this graphic and smiled because I liked the image of a person with similar hair style as the tree top trying to understand the tree’s perspective on LIFE given its growth situation.howpeoplethink.png

Left to your own without the text, you can interpret the image itself in many ways, as I just did.

Then the text under the image may lead you in a direction that you hadn’t initially considered, and your mind then decides to settle on something in between the text meaning and your first impression of the image.

Is the text saying that we think the tree should be growing straight and true, but instead it is leaning leftward before reaching for the sky?  Is the person trying to understand that directional shift? It may not be growing as straight as we think that it should be but it is still growing and functioning. Does that mean that nature functions differently than we think that it should?

thoreau quote.jpgThese are all speculative interpretations. Much of life as we perceive it is due to our own interpretation of what we see around us. That personal interpretation is built on so many factors, like how safe we feel at the time, what kind of history we might have with a similar situation, who we are with, why we are in that particular location viewing what we are viewing, not to mention what we were once told about how we should view everything we see around us; i.e., are we tied to certain beliefs about our existence and our place in this wild and crazy world?

Personal attitude means everything in how we interpret our world. What are we looking to understand about our world? How much do we really want to know anything beyond how it directly affects us?

What is our attitude toward being in that particular situation or encountering something similar to it?

Why would we care or not care how the tree grows? Is that leaning a natural aspect of that particular tree’s upward growth? Is the tree overcoming a serious wound near its base that stunted the growth cells on one side but allowed full growth on the other side of it so that it grew abnormally stronger on one side than the other before self correcting a few feet  from the ground? Is this some metaphor on overcoming personal difficulties?

Again, why would we care?

To me, if the person in the image did NOT care, she would NOT be mimicking the tree lean. But that is also just my interpretation.

And if we, the perceivers of the situation did not care, we would ignore it completely and not give it a second thought. But to “ignore” the setting and situation refers again to the meaningful-silencetext message of the image: “The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.”

So what did you think? Did you try to understand anything about the graphic itself, or did you just blow it off? Was it meaningless or meaningful to you?

And does it matter which it was?

Endings, Beginnings, and Something In-between

If you thought that the beginning of October felt different energy-wise than did the previous month of September, you are not alone. I felt a large energy shift in the collective energies from near-stationary stagnation to a mountainous boulder beginning boulder.jpgto roll—although it is picking up speed in extreme slow motion. I won’t say that we are fully rolling downhill yet, but we are definitely moving forward with increased speed. Once gravity kicks in, it will be full tilt toward whatever end is in sight. (And it doesn’t have to be a cataclysmic occurrence—it could be a major breakthrough—depends on the collective intention attracting the major change to all of us.)

What that means is that things are going to POP soon…. events will transpire that shake everyone off our usual ho-hum centers.  And I don’t mean to lessen the impact of all these natural disasters occurring throughout the continental United States and territories the last few months that have put everyone on notice to how fast your safe and secure life can change in an instant; but I’m referring to something even more shocking, sudden and dramatic than that, …as if what has already occurred wasn’t dramatic and life-changing enough for us.biggie.jpg

Yes, I think we are due for a biggie very soon!

What constitutes a biggie, you might ask?

I would say a biggie is an event the size of President Kennedy being killed in Dallas that sad day on November 22, 1963; or on the more pleasant side, the day the Berlin Wall was opened and then dismantled by the cheering crowd, brick by brick, and stone by stone on November 9th, 1989.

Hmmm, there seems to be a similar month in which these major things have happened: November—just a couple weeks away.

Lao tsuAnd for those of us who weren’t that happy with last November’s election results, how about Nov 8th, 2016? That was a world-shaking day, wasn’t it, likely from either political party’s vantage, not to mention our world-wide ally’s confusion.

All I know is that the collective anxiety-energies last year felt quite different to me than they feel at present. These present collective energies are powerful and feel more like rug-shaking. Like something is going to break soon and it could mean BIG changes everywhere.

Should we be excited about it?

I honestly don’t know. Big change usually comes at a large cost to someone. Ask anyone who has lost family members, or a home, or a way of life. Change isn’t always pleasant or welcome, but BIG end to begin.jpgchange is unavoidable—it simply IS. It is direction changing—like when part of the mountain slope suddenly UPLIFTS and sends the rolling boulder moving in the opposite direction, which is NOW the NEW downhill.

When these BIG collective energy shifts occur you move forward from that point on. You stop, shake your head and collect yourself.  You recognize that life has left you shaken or stunned, but you can’t stay that way long. So you gradually move forward again, inch by inch, step by step, until you realize that THIS is what your life must now be—because everything has CHANGED from what it once was. This is your NEW direction for awhile.

Change is coming soon. The energies are primed to explode. Let’s hope for a collectively-pleasant biggie!

The Macrocosm within the Microcosm

pretty dropsI love droplet images. They reflect multiple perspectives of everything existing around them. To me they symbolize the holographic macrocosm (Universe) captured within a microcosm of tensional integrity (the water droplet itself). Bucky Fully coined that tensional integrity as “tensegrity.”

As for the hologram, per Wikipedia: “The hologram itself is not an image … It is an encoding of the light field as an interference pattern of seemingly random variations in the opacity, density, or surface profile of the photographic medium.”

In other words, wdroplets on milkweedhat you see in the droplet depends on your own angle of perspective and how your eyes translate those patterns of light that they receive. In effect, your Universe is defined by how you perceive it to be and what your brain (your central processing unit) is capable of comprehending from the limited data it is inputting at that moment.

Not real sure where I’m going with this other than to say that tiny crystalline water droplet represents the universe as we know it captured within the compressed reflections of seeming randomness visible to the perceiver.

It is NOT the real thing other than being a droplet of water.golden droplet

But it holographically depicts our reality as well as any other sensing device we utilize to decipher our world.

The droplet symbolizes “the macrocosm within the microcosm,” just as we humans often believe ourselves to be mirror images of a greater being—a Creator who infinitely multiplied itself into a waterdrops.jpgprevious void and in so doing, populated the Universe with microcosmic sensing devices to further its own awareness of itself.

We float around the universe and relate to each other similar to the function of living cells in the human physical anatomy: All cells are independent of each other. They have specific functions per their location within the human body; but all cells are related in their purpose and intention to perform their individual tasks in unity for the perpetuation of the greater whole.droplet everything

Perhaps sometimes a water droplet is just a pretty, sparkling-in-the-morning-sunlight appendage hanging precariously from a large blade of bended grass.

And sometimes it might be everything that ever is, was, or will be.

Honoring the Senses

This morning I saw the clouds approaching from the western horizon, but at that distance I couldn’t cloud bankdetect their speed. It really didn’t matter to me because I knew there were tasks to be completed today and endeavors to attempt. My mind had set its own agenda for this small window of “work opportunity” and was not going to be deterred by distant possibilities lying outside its “being productive” intention.

As I donned the clothes appropriate to the industrious labor awaiting me, I looked once more out the open window at the fast-advancing cloud front, and then caught the whiff of something distinct and easily recognizable—the scent of rain in the air. Now my wavering mind said, Hmmm, …maybe these work clothes won’t be needed after all.

It wasn’t long past that thought that the first “tinks” and plops” sounded as large rain drops hit the window glass and the AC unit housing beneath it—audio verification to what the visuals and olfactory senses had first alerted me: Yes, rain was on the way and some was now here.

rain puddleJust to be certain, stepping out the backdoor, I raised my palm to the sky and received yet another wet affirmation that the distant possibility preventing outside laboring had just become an actuality. My kinesthetic sense had made the final verdict loud and clear—yes, it was raining. (Yeah!)

My mind then released me from its industrious intentions—there would be no sense of guilt or shame at my outside inactivity when legitimate reasons (like it’s raining) had magically developed for me to now sit in front of my computer and write. One could even call it Divine Intervention if one wanted to stretch it a bit. And I did—I stretched it a lot. That’s why I’m sitting here now.

This morning’s rain event might seem a little mundane to even mention as a blog post, except I suddenly realized that the only human sensing device that I didn’t use this morning to determine my future actions was to stand outside with an open mouth to the sky and await a rain drop landing on my tongue—to taste it. That’s when it occurred to me what all was at play during this simple morning reassignment.

Our brain, the most amazing central processing unit (CPU) ever created, uses our individual sensing units to layers of braindecipher our surroundings, create mental intentions for our appropriate reactions to them, and then it sends electrical impulses out to our muscles for our physical responses.

Our minds have created extensive databases of information mainly based on our previous cause/effect actions that create desirable or undesirable consequences for us. The mind uses that behavioral pain/pleasure gauge continuously throughout each day and night to guide us in moment by moment responses.

Our memories, tinged with past emotional attachments to the situations that we have already faced, are the basis for that present-moment perspective filter we use to view the desirability or undesirability of each situation now before us.

brain 1The five senses and the emotions (which are both the energetic and the body chemistry reactions to whatever we encounter or perceive) alert the brain—and more accurately, alert the layers of the brain with their own individual functions and purposes to the overall CPU’s operation: from specific brain stem functions, to limbic functions, to cortex functions, and so on. There’s a lot going on up there that we take for granted until something doesn’t function as well as we hope that it would.

So when I first underplayed the importance of something as simple as a slight change in morning intentions or plans, I stopped myself in my tracks, and said, “Whoa, …look what really happened—look what my engirl in raintire body’s sensing devices told my mind for it to “let me off the hook” from doing that hard labor this morning. Maybe I should take just a moment to honor those sensing devices I’m so blessed to have and be glad that I’m not out there getting soaked to the skin—which I process as undesirable.”

There you have it—all this to say, “I wrote because it rained.”