The Seasons of Your Heart
by Rob Brookler
[While this article was written during the holiday season, it applies year-round.]
As we approach the holidays we look forward to a time of joy and happiness, for lightness and warmth. It is a season of fond memories, great anticipation ... and much planning. And whereas this yearning and anticipation is quite understandable, it can also be a bit of a trap.
Expecting great joy and not finding it, we may become all the more disheartened. Seeing warmth around us yet not experiencing it ourselves, we may find ourselves feeling all the more separated.
Fortunately, by learning to be more accepting of our emotions – moving with rather than against them – our emotions become our allies, helping us connect with others and with our own personal seasons.
Moving with your seasons
Indeed, while we long to feel joyful at the holiday season – or at any other time of year, for that matter – at any given moment we must defer to the season of our heart. Our feelings are our very particular response to our lives and to our nature. They arise from any number of factors that we may or may not be conscious of. And in response to our busy lives – particularly busy during the holiday seasons – they will understandably cycle and change with some frequency.
To expect that our complex emotional “response” mechanism should take a “pause” during the holidays is unrealistic. In fact, it would be distinctly unhealthy. Given the “intensity” of the holiday seasons – the interaction with family, with old memories, the heightened expectation – we would be wiser to “plan” for a wider range of moods. And rather than “targeting” a particular feeling, we should be all the more flexible and patient with our emotional states (… and those of others).
Indeed, try as we might, we cannot actually choose what we feel. Our feelings come to us in their time, and there is great wisdom in this. To attempt to control this – to try to feel joy, for instance, when we feel sadness – will be a great burden on our energy.
Because our feelings are our connection with our heart, with our deeper nature, and with our experience of life, when we choose to resist them, we actually disconnect with ourselves. And this contributes to that all too common experience during the holidays of feeling detached, isolated, or lonely … when we long most to feel connected with people.
All feelings are created equal. Honor them.
The misunderstanding, of course, is that we must feel a certain emotion – usually joy or happiness – in order to feel connected. This is not true. All our feelings are valid. All our feelings are created equal. And we can no sooner “skip” a season of our heart, than we can skip winter and choose to have spring.
We do not have “good” feelings and “bad” feelings … though some feelings we may find more comfortable than others. Indeed, sorrow and anger – and the other feelings we rightly experience with loss, with unmet needs, even with old wounding – are sacred. We are meant to feel these emotions in response to these experiences. And feeling them, without judgment, is a natural and necessary step in the completion and healing of these experiences.
In other words, while certain emotions are challenging for us, they are not a punishment. They are not a sign of weakness or a signal that something is wrong. They are meant to be felt and honored. They must be felt and honored.
There have been ages and cultures that better understood this and established ceremonies during which sadness and loss, anger and disappointment, were properly acknowledged. The defining quality of such ceremonies was that vulnerability, openness, and honesty were considered strengths. And the emotions were considered powerful and sacred.
Feeling our emotions vs. being “emotional”
Moreover, being accepted and expressed, these emotions moved through. They were honored, felt, and released. So, respecting and honoring our feelings does not translate into being dramatic and “emotional” … or wallowing in our feelings.
Quite the contrary. We are not our feelings. And we are not meant to hold on to them. Again, they are our response to life … akin to a particular “taste” we experience with a particular food.
As a response, our emotions are meant to pass. As with certain “tastes,” certain feelings we may savor more than others. But we are meant to experience them … and let them go. Sadness, for instance, should move through us just as easily as joy.
As we release them, our emotions leave us changed
There have been many sacred teachings surrounding the “seasons” … revering their power, their inevitability. Each unique season comes upon us in the wisdom of time. Each passes in its time, giving rise to the next season. And it is because we cannot control or choose them – because we must simply experience our seasons – that we are truly changed by them.
Like the seasons, our feelings are also sacred and vital because we can’t choose them. They can’t be filtered out by the mind (… though we sometimes try). We feel them in the body and in the heart. We feel them spiritually and primally. And they connect these varied aspects of us. As such – because they are experienced so fully and viscerally – they change us: our energy, our vibration. They effect a certain alchemy that transforms and integrates us in a way no other learning experience can.
But this alchemy does not require that we “dive” into our emotions: that we fuel them, grapple with them, “become” them. Quite the opposite. Holding on to our emotions is like keeping a season from ending. Only when we release the emotion, only by letting it move through and away, do we realize the transformation.
So during this holiday season or any time of the year, when we want to find joy and cannot, when we feel disconnected, it’s a good time to pause. And instead of pressuring ourselves trying to figure out “what’s wrong,” we might just look for the feeling our heart has chosen. And give ourselves and our hearts some room just to experience it. Not with heaviness, not with drama, but simply with openness.
The feeling there may not be joy, but it will be our feeling. And if we give the emotion room – if we can resist judging ourself as a bad person because we feel anger or a damaged person because we feel sorrow – the feeling will be felt and will pass.
A ceremony of our own
It may help to seek out a trusted friend and create our own little ceremony … a time and place set aside where we have permission simply to acknowledge the feelings we’re feeling now. Again, not with drama, not with heaviness, but with honesty and openness. The friend should not seek to mend or distract us from these feelings. Our friend should not try to make us “feel better.”
Nor should we or they try to “justify” the feelings. Our heart doesn’t need justification. It needs its reaction to our experience. It needs its season. There’s no need to focus on or vilify the person or circumstances that “caused” the feelings. Again, this is the “drama” that keeps us fixed in the emotion. We need to honor our valid response, our true, present emotions. And by doing so we reconnect with our experience and with ourselves.
All the seasons of your heart are founded in love. All your feelings are sacred because they come from who you are and who you were created to be. Honor them all … and you will find the gifts of every season!
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