By now it is obvious to me that most therapeutic tools and also spiritual practices have one main unifying focus. That focus is to help us develop the willingness to pay attention, while letting feelings be as they are. Mark Epstein writes in The Zen of Therapy that “non-interfering attentiveness… is by its very nature transformative. The point isn’t to stop feeling or thinking them (our feelings) but to change our relationship with them.”
Fear is one of our strongest and most prevalent feelings. Recently I have noticed that it is my go-to feeling. It overrides many more authentic feelings underneath. Here are a few of my examples: A house keeper does not show up. I feel very anxious and panicky instead of disappointed and actually a little angry at her. Another example cutting back on medication I have a back spasm. I feel anxious and afraid instead of sad and in pain. James Hollis, PhD. writes in Living an Examined Life, “If we are going to have a meaningful life we have to feel our feelings. Much of our behaviors are fear based. Fear protects us but also constricts us.” In 1912 Jung said, “The spirit of evil is negation of the life force by fear. Only boldness can deliver us from fear and if the risk is not taken the meaning of life is violated.” Hollis goes on to say, “Realize ninety percent of energy that blocks you has its origin in your childhood where everything was overwhelming. When we are stuck, we have activated this archaic fear.” Sooner or later, to have a meaningful life, we have to begin with allowing our feelings with open, curious attention.
James Hollis goes on to asks us “what does our soul ask for us?” To get to this question there are layers of blocked feelings that block our intuitions and knowing. Jung said “We don’t solve these problems … we can’t cut our history out of us like a tumor… our task is to outgrow their influences. You cannot rule out what is wired in neurologically or in your psyche but you can watch it with curiosity, compassion and spaciousness. In this attentiveness it loses its power….