When we begin to focus on spirituality, we notice our feelings. Learning to navigate moods and feelings are an important first stepping stone upon which we can begin a spiritual journey. We often feel we resonate with specific teachers or particular spiritual programs. We are drawn toward some teachers and away from others. At first we may be very interested in the experiences of other seekers as we determine our own spiritual direction. We don’t know quite where we are headed but we trust that those who have gone before us will direct our path. So we begin with trust, a feeling that is not always accurate.
We learn to listen to the wisdom of our hearts. This can emerge in many ways. For example journaling is a good way to convey our observations to ourselves, reflecting what we are beginning to understand. We become truly aware of the power of our feelings and how they can lead us authentically or lead us astray. Combining the modern skill of biofeedback with peaceful breathing and the wisdom of meditation can hone our emotional guidance. Our emotions become an inner GPS rather than a barometer of stormy moods or fair weathered light-hardheartedness.
The honing of this emotional expertise is experienced quite radiantly when we practice meditation. The practice of meditation has many styles so if a particular form is unappealing one can try another. Nevertheless you can be sure; your emotions will greet you spectacularly when you begin a meditation practice. Annoyance or frustration can be a royal awakening to our view that spirituality should provoke feelings of compassion and altruistic joy. Relaxation induced anxiety is another awareness that insolently makes its way into our conscious appreciation of these age old practices. How can you let yourself flow into a state of deep peacefulness when you are completely unfamiliar with the shape of its landscape in your mind? Contrarily your mind will adhere to familiar terrain such as anger, tension, fear, annoyance or even embarrassment. After all, everyone else in the class looks serene and calm, don’t they?
Can you learn to shift your mood? That is the teaching you are encountering upon this first gleaming stepping stone in your spiritual journey. Can you explore this uncomfortable place and recognize its familiar terrain? You have found yourself, right there and right then. You have finally become present with yourself. Enjoy that awareness the next time your emotions show up in your spiritual practice. Greet those feelings and sit with them for awhile before preparing to let them go. Don’t be too quick to release them, for they are old friends.