More than 20 years ago, I was friends with a “de-frocked” Buddhist monk. Tim (not his real name) had been in a monastery in Burma for years and chose to leave the order to live as an ordinary person. He confessed to me that, after having spent so long wrestling with negative emotions while in the order, he had a lot to learn about his feelings.
In the early days of Tim living in the “real world”, if you asked him what he felt about something, the most he would say is, “I don’t like it” or “I like it.” Over time his palette of emotional colours gained more depth and breadth, but he was in a steep learning curve.
Tim pointed me towards one of the great learnings of my life. I confided in him when I was having terrible relationship problems; on one occasion, I broke down sobbing. When I could catch my breath again, he told me how beautiful my face looked, softened and washed by tears. Well, I never! I trusted him and came to believe that tears are beautiful, sometimes especially when they are my own.
I thought of Tim today when a young woman I met at a party told me that she’d been in a recent yoga class, felt a stab of physical pain, and ended up in tears. She said that she just allowed her emotional pain to surface and remarkably by the finish of the session, she was completely better in her body and mood.
Much better to be sad when that’s what’s real and to be happy when that’s what’s there for you. It takes so much less energy to accept our mood rather than to grapple or resist.
I like the the words of the eminent psychologist Joe Forgas from today’s SMH Good Weekend Magazine article “Don’t Worry, Be Sad.” Joe says, “It’s not only okay to feel gloomy sometimes, it’s actually good for you.” And further, “It is nice to be happy, but we have to realize emotional fluctuations are just part of the kind of monkey we are.”
Embrace your monkeyness!

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Eve. I once attended a personal development class where the self taught guru told us that negative emotions could be banished by forcing ourselves to smile. He proudly claimed never to allow his children to express negative emotions. I wonder what happened to those kids. Many thanks again.


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