I believe the ability to feel, open the heart, and have empathy are the most essential capacities for the survival of our species. Of these three capacities, our inability to feel is at the root of all problems in our world. When we open our ability to feel, our species will become naturally compassionate. Through opening to feeling, our heart opens and we can feel others. When our compassionate hearts open, we can unite and address the problems in humanity.
The Great Ability to Feel
There are many wonders in the world outside of you; but, the truest wonders are the ones that live inside your heart and body. The miracle of life is living through you in every beat of your heart. The ability to feel is the metaskill that begets living from the heart. What I mean by feel is the awareness through touching or inwardly sensing. Feeling is the most direct way of experiencing. When we allow ourselves to feel, we say yes to life. By choosing to feel, we open to the experience in the moment. Instead of saying no and closing off to the experience, the simple act of feeling is shouting a big loud “Yes!” to the force of life.
The Emotional Dark Age
Everything we feel, see, and perceive is right. When we doubt our perceptual capacities without reason, we engage in a war on ourselves. The way we relate to our feelings on planet earth at this time is barbaric. If we were to relate to what we see the same way that we relate to our feelings, we would look out with our eyes and start criticizing half of what we see. We would ask, “Should I be seeing these colors right now? Is there something wrong with my eyes for seeing it this way?” Instead of simply accepting what is, we might then take out a knife and gauge out our eyes to attempt to prevent our eyes from seeing the truth.
What we feel is right, just as what we see is right. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of it. We don’t need to medicate ourselves to stop feeling things. We don’t need to force ourselves to be different. We only need to accept our feelings. When we accept our feelings, we can end this emotional dark age in which we find ourselves trapped.
Centering in the Heart
There’s a good reason why I suggest we center our awareness in the heart and not the head. The heart-centered way of being includes the head. The heart embraces thinking which springs forth from feeling. The head-centered way of being, where our society is currently stuck, excludes the heart and excludes feeling. When we center in our heart, we have a whole and inclusive path. When we center in our head, we have a cold and disconnected way of thinking and being. When we choose to feel, we naturally center in our heart.
There’s a metaphor coming out of the Zen Buddhist tradition that compares the process of understanding the truth to looking at a finger pointing at the moon. If you look at the finger, you’ll never see the moon. We must look to where the finger is pointing in order to find the moon. When you feel my words and let them into your heart and body, they vibrate with the feeling-tone of the truth I wish to convey. The literal words will just keep you in your mind, if you think about them without feeling them in your heart. So look to the moon of true feeling rather than following the pointers into your mind.
I’m going to change a lot of what you think of as reality by redefining words. I learned about words from reciting Shakespeare, William Butler Yeats, W.H Auden, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many other great masters of the English language. They taught me to think poetically and use words to get to the heart or feeling essence of things. When you read my words or hear me speak, you need to feel me to truly understand me. If you just look at my words as though I’m communicating complete, logical thoughts without searching for the underlying feeling, you will never understand me.
Feeling is not what you think it is, as I define it. Feeling is something everyone thinks they do, but almost no one actually knows how to feel the way I define it. Feeling (without an ‘s’) is the capacity to open to experience. Feelings (with an ‘s’) are the sensations we experience in the body. Being able to discern both the capacity to feel and the object of feelings themselve are a vital distinction that is needed to assist us as we continue on this journey. When I say “feel,” I mean to truly open your heart and allow the direct and profound experience of life to course through your veins. This is difficult for us to do because most of us are trapped in our minds and disconnected from our actual present experience. When we are stuck in our mental interpretation of our experience, we are seperated from it and not actually feeling our feelings. What does that really mean? Feeling is the activity of sensing something from the inside, from within our very being. Feeling is like the heart’s hand. We feel sensations on the inside much like we feel sensations on the outside through our skin. We touch them with our heart.
Perceiving From the Mind vs Perceiving from the Heart
It’s easy to live life from the perspective of our mind. The way we are taught in schools – to listen to the teacher, to learn facts and figures, and to solve problems – is all preparation for a mental, head-centered kind of existence. I see now, when I started college, I was trapped in my mind. Inside the classroom, my mind was sharp, clear, and prized. However, outside, in nature at that time, I was unable to feel the natural world around me. It was like I was watching it from a distance, removed from connecting with nature. I experienced feelings, but they were more distant from me than my thoughts.
I had feelings and emotions, but mostly I was centered in my thoughts. My thoughts were crystal clear and sharp, but my feelings were more like fleeting images or shadows on a screen. I did not trust my feelings. They were too vague, nebulous, and mutable, and therefore untrustworthy to my thought-centered self. Feelings didn’t seem as real as the seemingly hard-grounded facts I got from thinking.
In my head-centered existence, it was like I was wearing thick winter gloves and unable to feel the texture of a stone through my gloved hands. When coming from the head, we have a sense that something is in our hands and we can vaguely feel the weight of it. Yet, the texture is nearly impossible to make out. Only when we remove the gloves, are we able to feel with our bare hands the stone’s texture.
As we see from our heart we use our feelings to determine everything. We are more connected to our visceral experience of life and more engaged in every action as it courses through our veins. Heart-centered living is alive and full of life. It’s not removed, it’s connected to life.
Feeling is a superpower. The way to activate this superpower is to counteract the fear of feeling. When we are afraid of feeling, it’s like kryptonite to the feelings. The power of feeling goes dormant. When we love our feelings, we become like Superman of the feeling world. Our whole inner life opens up before our very eyes.
The key to having everything you’ve ever longed for is buried in your unfelt feelings. Your very essence, who you really are, has everything to do with feeling. Our ability to feel naturally returns when we open our hearts. When we feel, the love in our families blossoms; our connections with our friends thrive; our connection to God, the stars, or the universe opens up; and everything we want in our life is available to those we can feel. When we feel, we can learn more quickly and absorb life from everywhere around us. Just like the breadcrumbs that I find in music, every feeling is a breadcrumb to guide us back to who we really are.
Treasure every feeling, savor every sensation, and love every experience you have. Feelings and sensations are the magical key to the kingdom of your hidden power. The treasures held in the wonderous feminine essence of your feeling are so deep and profound we could dedicate our lives to them and only just scratch the surface of this vast trove of lost magic and power. Open your heart to these mysteries. Embrace all that you feel!
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