This past month has been incredibly confronting for me. I have been "triggered" almost every day by another person's words/actions, the news, or my own thoughts. I have been feeling "negative emotions" (anger, sadness, shame, guilt, judgment, etc.) much more often and with more intensity than usual. I put "negative emotions" in quotes, because I no longer believe that any emotions are bad. I now believe that intense uncomfortable emotions give us information about where we are in need of healing. Spiritual teachings remind us that the world is a mirror that reflects back what we most need to look at in order to grow spiritually.
Here is what I have been intentionally practicing (quite imperfectly) this month:
1. Pause, notice, and feel the intense and uncomfortable emotion (shame, anger, sadness, guilt, judgment) as it comes up without numbing out, "calming down," or distracting myself.
2. Name what is feeling confronting/triggering for me: Gossip? Self-centered behavior? Elitism? Racist comments? Wastefulness? Dishonesty? Etc.
3. Use the trigger as a mirror for self-reflection and self-inquiry (yoga). In what ways have I been in the past/am I being now: gossip-y, self-centered, elitist, racist, wasteful, dishonest, etc. ?
4. Hold myself accountable and practice self-compassion. It can look something like this: "I am not perfect. The thing that I said/did in the past was wrong. I learned from it and will do better next time. I am not perfect, and I am worthy of love."
I am learning that we can only be compassionate towards others when we have integrated the parts of ourselves that seem unlovable. The practice of yoga is primarily a practice of self-inquiry. The practice of self-inquiry is more challenging when we are confronted with the parts of ourselves that we don't like to look at.
When we approach these challenging and confronting lessons with an attitude of curiosity and playfulness, it can feel more like "play" than like "work." I think that is the only way to stay in this life-practice of self-inquiry for the long run. The world is our classroom. Our emotions point us in the direction of what we are here to learn.