November 20: Day 143
STONE EIGHT CONTINUED
Release: After experiencing all feelings, I release any emotions I deem harmful to my spiritual path.
Instruction: Release, not repress.
Even though the difference might seem small at first, there is a difference between releasing our thoughts and repressing them. If we repress our thoughts, it is like trying to deny them or push them away. When we release our thoughts, they can float away like a feather in a breeze. This allows us to consider other thoughts and other feathers in the breeze that will float our way. As these other thoughts come to us, we can observe them and then determine if we want to give them more than just a casual acknowledgment. Repressed thoughts return, and then we have to push them down again. Released thoughts return, but it’s not like we weren’t expecting them. Just because we release or repress a thought, it doesn’t mean it won’t return, but when a repressed thought returns, we might feel guilty for having the thought again. When a released thought returns, we can understand that its return is normal and can be dealt with without guilt or fear.
Consider someone who is trying to lose weight. The thought might come to them: I want an ice cream sundae. The repressed thought says, No! That is wrong and will make you blow your diet. The released thought acknowledges that it would like to eat a sundae, and then considers whether or not to act on that thought. Perhaps the diet has gone well and the individual wants to act on the thought. She or he can do so without guilt. They might be disappointed later, but then they can acknowledge the disappointment and act on it by deciding differently the next time a thought comes to eat something they know might not be in keeping with their long-term goals. They might also make the same choice and “blow” their diet again. In reality, the ultimate decision of what to do is not a moral issue. Our bodies will respond differently to the things we consume and eating healthy is often in our best long-term interests, but there is no need to beat ourselves up over decisions that weren’t necessarily the best. We don’t always choose what is best, and often we don’t even know what is best. Sometimes an ice cream sundae can be just what we needed. By understanding that thoughts come and go, we can more easily let them go or at least say No for the time being, knowing that we will have another chance to choose again. After all, we do have to eat something.
Take some time to consider the difference between a repressed thought and a released thought. Why is releasing more useful than repressing? If we are used to repressing our thoughts, it might take some practice to learn how to release them. One helpful concept is to know that those released thoughts might or might not return, but we don’t have to feel guilt or shame. We can simply choose to release them again.
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