Release: After experiencing all feelings, I release any emotions I deem harmful to my spiritual path.
Instruction: Evaluate your emotions.
Stone Eight begins by reminding us to experience all of our emotions. We also want to remember that every emotion serves a purpose. Some might seem more negative by nature, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. So, we feel them, place a value judgment on them, and then we can pick the ones we want to keep and release the ones we don’t. Keep in mind that these are momentary decisions based on the circumstances surrounding us. The emotion we choose to release will return in different ways at later times, and each time they return, we must feel them first and then choose what we want to do with them. We might think that anger is an emotion we would never want to hold onto, and for the most part, that’s probably true. There could be times when the feeling of anger creates a protective situation that we want to retain. If someone is threatening physical harm to one of our children, we might get angry and want to hold onto that anger until the danger has passed. When it does, we might notice that it seems to linger longer than needed, but once again, we feel that anger, acknowledge it, and then decide when it’s time to release it — not suppress or ignore it.
When we know that emotions will return when needed, we know we can release anger once it has done the work it needed to do, which in the case of the illustration, was to raise our natural response to protect our children. After we release it, however, anger will be more readily available to us should the situation return. Remember that evaluating your emotions is a judgment call. If we trust our gut, we will usually get the right call. If we allow our decision to be tainted by teaching that sees our emotions as black and white, we will be more prone to make the wrong call. For instance, if a religious leader were to tell us that all anger, all lust, or all deception is one hundred percent wrong all the time and we believed it, then we could find ourselves perplexed, agitated, and shamed for a lot of things that are natural responses to a given situation. What we do with our feelings is the issue, not whether or not we have those feelings.
Today’s assignment is to consider if we are judging our emotions in a good/bad, black/white scenario that doesn’t make room for exceptions. In the Christian tradition the concept of “letter of the law” versus “spirit of the law” often comes into play, and people who think with a good/evil mindset don’t always consider the spirit of the law. Laws can’t cover every possible situation and dictate every possible “right” answer. That’s where the spirit of the law goes into effect. Consider some situations in your life where you might have been following the letter of the law and didn’t listen to your heart, instinct, or love which is always in line with the spirit of the law.
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