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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Intimacy with Emotions

In tantric and shamanic traditions, direct, intimate relationship with emotions is understood to be a path of transformation. By deepening into an emotional experience, a kind of alchemy occurs in which what might appear to be a disturbing obstacle can actually be transmuted into gold.

An adjunct or evolution of therapy, which unfolds the inner meaning of emotional experience (wonderful and necessary work), the process of transmutation builds on that inner meaning and leads to a surrender into the very core of the energy of the emotion. In this resting, receptive state the spacious, luminous nature of emotions can be discovered and experienced.

In these moments of rest the need to understand or make meaning is set aside. There is no need to shift, transform, or heal. Entering into relationship with an emotion, intimately close, but not so close that perspective is lost, allows the emotion to reveal its essence as light, transparency, and warmth. Again, this is done not instead of exploring the meaning of experience, but in addition to it, touching the full-spectrum of life as a curious, emotional, embodied human being.

In this open state it is amazing how much space exists around sensations, emotions, and thoughts. None of our emotional states are as solid as they often appear, but of course, this is discovered on each person's individual journey. The space is not dead or empty or void-like, but rather it is filled with aliveness and qualities of compassion, of engagement, of skillful action, of helping others. In this realization, even disturbing emotions offer a pathway into the spaciousness of true nature. Even the most difficult emotions become allies and yield to the warmth of true friendship.

It does take some practice to see this, to rewire the old pathways of repression and dissociation, on the one hand, and becoming flooded and seeking relief from emotion on the other. But in the sacred middle, it is possible to practice a profound intimacy with emotional experience, while at the same time not fusing with it. It is truly more an art than a science, and the canvas is the temple of your very own body.

Hold and explore the tension of the opposites . . . notice how fusion and repression create an opportunity for an alternative experience of openness and spaciousness. Stay open and curious in the unresolvable nature of the center. Rest and creativity are naturally generated, and a new freedom dawns. One that is alive with love, kindness, curiosity, fun and new vision.

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