The emotions are what makes life great – joy, passion, love, peace, happiness. They are also what can make life difficult – anger, fear, sadness. They are often the driving force behind our actions, and can become beautiful pieces of art when expressed skillfully. But can we tame our emotions? Or are we slaves to their power?
Maybe you have never thought of it this way (or maybe you have), but we are not our emotions. Our emotions are a feeling, but they are not us. When someone drives you to feel angry, do you recognize it as a feeling, or do you become that anger? “I am angry” is different than “I feel angry.” In the first sentence, you become something not yourself – you become an emotion, but in the second sentence, you maintain your identity (your TRUTH), and recognize the truth that your anger is simply a feeling, and that all feelings pass.
When you become your emotion, that emotion controls your actions, and you do things that are out of your character, and often not in your best interest. If you are a normally peaceful, non-violent person, becoming your anger can drive you to hurt others. Because hurting others is not part of your true character, or essence, you are not being yourself, and will not find true joy in this action. But, if you can realize that your anger is only an emotion, and not really you, you can find another method of handling the situation that is in alignment with your true character – and in that act of truth, find true joy.
Now, the point of this practice is not to diminish or ignore your emotions. Emotions are meant to be felt! The point of this exercise is to help you become more aware of your emotions, so that they do not control you, and so that your actions come from your essence. When you maintain your thoughts and actions from your essence, you open yourself to the vision of true beauty within yourself and others. Because the emotions are not really you, when you let them decide your actions for you, you are no longer living your truth, but living a false life based on reacting to your environment. Reaction is the only act available from your emotions, but from your essence, you find the availability of action.
In martial arts, they have a saying: “Action always defeats reaction.”
(more on this topic in my book "Experience. Create. LOVE.)