The Willingness to Experience Painful Emotions by Louise Kay

louise kay Jun 22, 2022

Can one be free from emotions?

Our true wish is not to be free from emotions, which are actually a healthy, fundamental part of the human experience, but to be free from suffering. When we change the way that we relate with our emotions it is possible to experience them without suffering and then, instead of being a burden to escape from, emotions can serve us by becoming a catalyst for deepening on our spiritual journey.

Suffering arises in us when we resist our experience. Most of us were never taught how to relate healthily with our emotions so we developed an unconscious, automatic response of resisting them. When emotions are resisted they are identified with and in an attempt to avoid feeling pain the body contracts to repress the emotional energy, despite the fact that resisting emotional experiences is ineffective and simply perpetuates the cycle of suffering. For many, this suffering becomes so great that it acts as a catalyst for spiritual awakening and the search for freedom.

Freedom is discovered with the willingness to experience painful emotions fully, openly and consciously. It is important to note that the embodiment of this freedom does not equate to non-action. In fact, it is usually accompanied by an opening to deeper wisdom. With freedom comes clear seeing of what action to take or not take in each moment and natural intuition begins to open and blossom, guiding us to move through life in alignment with a higher truth.

So how does one experience painful emotions fully, openly and consciously?

  • Remain vigilant and whenever an unpleasant emotion arises in your experience bring your attention fully into the present moment.
  • Notice which emotion is present but don’t judge it in any way, just notice it and also notice the thoughts accompanying it.
  • Don’t try to stop the thoughts or get rid of them, instead, focus your attention on the breath.
  • Drop your attention fully into the body and follow the gentle movement of the breath.

As you do this observe where the emotion is felt in the body. Maybe it’s experienced as a tightness in the chest or a contraction in the belly. Don’t try to get rid of these sensations. Instead, surrender fully to feeling them. Welcome them. Make friends with the sensations in the body, even if they feel unpleasant. The emotion is actually just energy moving in the body and you can even talk to it if you like, as you would talk to a sweet, innocent child, “sweetheart, it’s ok that you feel like this. I’m here for you.”

Hold a space of gentle, unconditional love for the emotion and stay present observing the breath and feeling the sensations in the body. If resistance arises welcome that too. Embrace the experience fully, allowing the experience to be just as it is and knowing that the emotion is not bad or wrong. Open to fully feeling whatever sensations are present in the body and surrender fully to this moment without any agenda to change anything. This unconditional surrender to what is opens the gateway to freedom and peace. You are not the emotions, you are the unchanging awareness in which this experience is happening and with the willingness to fully allow what is here right now, it is possible to be free from all suffering in just one moment, this moment!

Our true self doesn’t have any preference which emotions are currently passing through the field of awareness. It is unchanging like the clear, blue sky and emotions are transient in nature. They come, they go, and they change, like the clouds passing through the sky. Sometimes there are just a few fluffy, light clouds and sometimes the whole sky is consumed by dark, black storm clouds. But the sky doesn’t move, the sky never changes and the sky remains indifferent to which clouds are passing through. Be like the sky and you will be free from the turmoil of emotion. “Ahh pretty, pink clouds are passing through, how beautiful! I am the sky. Ahh dark, black clouds creating thunder and lightning, how intense! I am the sky.” Rest as this state of non-identification and you will be freed from the suffering caused by identification with emotion.

Non-identification with emotion does not mean that we live in a state of numbed detachment. In fact it is the opposite. Fully surrendering to what is and fully allowing whatever emotion arises in the moment means that we feel more deeply than ever before. Our whole system opens to the raw aliveness of the moment, and we become one with our experience. We feel connected, and we feel deeply fulfilled because we recognize that we are freedom itself.

Is transmutation of emotions possible?

Once we develop the capacity to relate healthily with our emotions we become more and more like an empty vessel allowing everything to pass through unhindered. From this space our whole perspective towards challenging emotions can shift. The heightened level of consciousness brings with it an understanding that repetitive, painful emotions are born from past conditioning and trauma so instead of being demonized and feared, ‘negative’ emotions become a sacred gateway to deeper healing and integration. This open awareness allows the light of consciousness to penetrate deeper and deeper into the creative expression that is our humanness.

This process of deepening allows for the transmutation of old, repressed energies and traumas which lie dormant as stagnated, blocked energy. Life is constantly working to support the integration of all disharmony so it creates for us situations and encounters which trigger these emotions and awaken the blocked energy from its state of dormancy. In that moment of activation, the opportunity for healing can be recognized and welcomed with gentleness. As this is recognized, the compulsive desire to control the external situation dissipates, the attention is brought into the present moment and all sensations in the body are welcomed and fully felt. The pain that was once projected unconsciously onto others or oneself is now held in unconditional love and the whole body opens and relaxes, allowing the old energy to flow freely and release if that is what is needed. From the perspective of higher consciousness there is no agenda, demand or necessity for anything to happen. There is simply total openness and surrender which allows for the opening to and communion with divine intelligence. This unconditionality is key for transformation and is what allows the energy to transmute from dense, blocked energy to free-flowing energy and light.

As more and more old, blocked energy is released through the transmutation process there is no longer the need for challenging life situations to trigger the old pain, and if we do find ourselves in the same challenging situation, it no longer triggers us. This allows us to gauge how much old energy has been transmuted. However, it is important to remember that there is no end point to reach somewhere in the future. There is no place to get to, when we’re healed and fixed and our true self has no desire even to transmute any emotions. Peace is only ever here and now, and what we truly are is pure awareness which is always free.

To attend Louise's weekly open Zoom meetings, click here.

To learn more about Louise's upcoming live-stream and in person retreat in the UK on July 14th-20th, click here.

Louise is the teacher in The Integrated Awakening Series in Evolve in August, when she will be teaching 2 live Masterclasses on Dedication To Awakening.