Commentaries on yoga

Strong emotions, purification and letting go.

by Tristan Dorling

Q.

Over the last few months I’ve been alternating between feelings of contentment and happiness, and feelings of despair, anger and fear. I feel a lot of activity in my upper chakras, but mostly my heart and 3rd eye. Life situations seem to be mirroring old conditioning inside, and sometimes I am able to witness it and other times not. I realize each day where I have been holding on to something else that isn’t actually true. The most difficult part is that the only message I am getting is to let go of everything, but nothing has taken its place. I feel like so far my awakening process has been energetic and emotional, but I have no insight. I used to believe God was love. Now I realize that if God is everything, then God is also all the evil in the world.

Sometimes the despair is so strong that I find myself crying. There are things I know I should be letting go of, but I can’t. I am heartbroken over the environment, the deep pain I feel while the earth is being destroyed by greed and shortsightedness. All these thoughts and more appear in my conscious mind in tandem with extremely strong emotions. Sometimes the thought that I’ve failed at everything I’ve ever done appears, and that I will never be enlightened because I have so far to go. I try to just let these thoughts pass by, but some of them I know I believe, if only on an unconscious level. I don’t feel like I am overdoing any practices, and I feel steady after meditation. Overall, I know my life is much better, and that I am healthier than ever before. I am trying to trust the process and surrender. My heart actually feels sore and heavy.

One more thing. When I am very deep in meditation I experience this vision/sensation where I seem to be floating. Forms appear, like rocks but not so heavy. They are surrounded by moving energy but also what seems to be sediment, tiny specks of something. Often people I don’t know and in places that don’t exist on this planet (anymore?). Anyhow, occasionally I will have a feeling associated with a dream come to me briefly throughout the day afterwards.

It makes me happy to know that you are out teaching and helping others on their paths. Thank you so much for your kindness.

 

A.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. That all sounds like quite a lot to be dealing with all at once!

Many of the things you are expressing are symptoms of the heart chakra opening. When the heart is being purified it can bring up issues to do with despair and saddness. In the early stages of the opening of the heart chakra, we can experience the energies of contraction, or not being able to simply be free, loving and accepting of things around us. So, when the heart is opening, we may get to experience what that contraction is like in quite a powerful way. As it clears, those feelings of despair and contraction gradually give way to experiences of openness and acceptance and love. The love of the heart is love for all things. It is very gentle and is simply present and expansive. Regret, or feelings of failure are two other emotions that can accompany the opening heart in the early stages.

When the heart is opening, it can also have an effect on the chakras close to it. In your case, it sounds as if you are experiencing some of the effects of the manipura chakra opening as well. This can bring about feelings of anger, or jealousy, or general discontentment. Again, as this chakra purifies more fully, these emotions will gradually fall away and be replaced by feelings of being emotionally in tune with and open to other people around you.

The visions that you are having in meditation, and the dream experiences, are often associated with the ajna chakra opening. So, you have a lot going on all at once. If all of the emotional and energetic experiences feel as if they are too much, then you can cut back on your practice times. If you are doing any deliberate additional energetic practices, such as mudras and bandhas, or advanced pranayamas, then you could cut back on those as well. But if you feel that you can handle what you are going through, then just carry on, keeping an eye on how things progress. It basically just takes time for these energetic centres to open and purify and it is good to be accepting of ourselves and patient with the process. It is lifetimes of conditioning being cleared out.

The “letting go” that is a part of the awakening process is not necessarily a “giving up” of anything. It is simply a letting go of our attachment to, and identification with the objects of the mind. The process happens automatically as we progress with our practices, so it is not something we need to be overly concerned with.  In the higher stages of the path, there are practices we can do where we are deliberately letting go of attachements and forms of identification. But it is not useful to begin those practices too early on.

Concerning the feeling that you have failed at everything, that can actually be quite helpful on the spiritual path. Our society is so strongly identified with “success” and with ideas surrounding success, that many people have a hard time letting go of the desire to succeed or to at least be seen by others as succeeding. The more we awaken, the more success and failure are seen to be equal, or you could say irrelevant. After all, who is it that is failing or succeeding, other than a mind created fabrication of a self? So, letting go into the awakened state is actually easier to do for someone who is not attached to notions of success and failure.

You will come through this and as you do, things will become a lot brighter and easier. Remember the old saying: “This too shall pass”.

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