Anger is one of the most intense emotions. It is a piece of information, telling me clearly that something that is happening here and now needs my immediate attention. If it is an aggressive driver pushing his car into my lane I can easily let some steam off by cursing at him loudly. Anger supplies my body with a shot of energy so I can act and protect my boundaries and autonomy without any delay. An automatic reaction to anger may be really ugly, violent or at least unkind. Instinct to protect and survive is primitive and primal and it doesn’t care about manners or politeness. It will shout, kick and fight.

This kind of behaviour will not do in our highly civilized society; we can’t vent our anger whenever we feel like that. We have to control it to some extent. So we are trained to hide and suppress it. Methods we use for it are obviously not good enough because anger is leaking through all the polite and civilized talks. It is boiling under a lid of moral rules, diplomatic meetings and intellectual discussions. And when it manages to come out it is unstoppable and can hurt deeply.

Instead of acting on it or suppressing it we can choose the third way. Mindfulness and Inner Reconciliation can come to aid. Learning proper meditation allows us to create a safe space within us where we can witness this powerful emotion with benevolence and interest. We can just be with it, feel it and accept its presence totally. We can even enquire into its origin and integrate it into our being. Simply paying attention to anger may bring non-violent resolution. So learn meditation.

Meditation is like a gentle bath that dissolves a glue of attachment.

I get so close to some thoughts and ideas that I believe them to be true-the absolute true. It means that I can’t imagine any other alternative, any other perspective. My attachment to them turned into identification. I am one with them. But am I? How to verify it? How to find out?

I realize that I can’t see anything when I am dominated and overpowered by these concepts. They suck out energy and happiness out of me. And I need some help to loosen this connection. I need to create a space between me and those concepts. I need to take a step back, relax and have a look.

I have found this help in meditation-a super glue dissolvent.

I want to be a proper person and my Ego takes care of it. It has an important role both to protect me and to discipline me. It does everything to make me acceptable and functional in the society. My Ego is a combination of a body guard and a governess. And it wants me to be obedient. So it keeps my attention by talking all the time. It is a story-teller. It explains and organizes my life by assessing it continuously; it turns everything into words, sentences and thoughts; into comments, opinions and judgments. My Ego is actually a thought about me. But it believes that it is in charge and it actually is, because I yielded my authority and let it rule.

This false ruler is very choosy and fastidious; it approves of some behaviour and gets grumpy about others. It is particularly critical about some of the feelings appearing in me. They do not fit the story which it has created about me. And in order to keep them away it calls these feelings “negative”. It persuaded me that they are dangerous and harmful and should be removed. I tried and didn’t succeed. And I wonder, if these negative feelings are resisted by Ego they are not it; obviously I am much more. And there is also a possibility that they are actually not negative, but that they are only unwelcome by the Ego. There is a possibility that I became a prisoner of my own story-teller. Honestly I do not like to be it any longer, I want to break free. And something tells me that the very “negative” feelings are the door to liberation.

So I turn towards them, not away from them, as I always was doing. It is time to have a proper look into desire, shame, fear, anger and guilt and all the other suppressed feelings. Yes, it is scary, but I know now that I can invite them into a safe place where they can finally tell their truth and I don’t need to do anything but listen. It is possible that there is nothing bad about them, nothing negative. I take the chance. I allow myself to listen. I do it in the safe and compassionate space of Meditation. I can deconstruct my Ego in this space and become a ruler of it not a servant to it. That’s how the liberation happens; by being attentive and mindful.

“I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” sings Bono
and we hum it agreeing with him. We haven’t found it either. Maybe we have been searching in wrong places.

“That what you are looking for is where you are looking from”* explained a wise man already 800 years ago. He gave us an advice to change direction of our investigation. Instead of pursuing our happiness out there, we could find it in here. It sounds so obvious and simple; but do we know how to do it and where “in here” is?

Let’s take it literally. Let’s move our attention closer and closer to ourselves; so close that there is no space for judgment, for the past or the future and neither for thoughts and stories. So close that what we notice and observe are just feelings and sensations in the body: the physical experience of the reality just here and now. This attitude is also called mindfulness, and the best way of training it is meditation. It helps to change the direction towards “in here” and to find that what we are looking for.

*Words of St Francis of Assisi is a favourite quotation
of my teacher GPWalsh-the founder of Master Heart Institute

Democracy is an ideal of the western world. We associate it with values like equality, justice and freedom. We want it in our countries, our jobs and families. We want to be treated in democratic way: to be taken into consideration and listened to. Democracy feels right.

It is easy to notice and criticize its absence.

Now, have you ever looked into your own, inner, personal world?

What kind of system does organize your life?

How democratic, interested and open are you towards the voices, conflicts and differences that exist inside you? Are you a benevolent, understanding and democratic ruler or a heartless, dominating despot? Do you listen to all: even the smallest, shivering and insecure voices? How about the parts of you that are abandoned or denied? How much freedom of speech do you allow them? How about so called “negative feelings” or suppressed desires? They deserve to be acknowledged, recognized and felt too. They also have right to take a floor and be listened to.

Take a democratic turn on your inner world: ask the dominant, Great Critic to be quiet for a moment and listen to all your inner voices. Be mindful of each one. Maybe the secret of your happiness is hiding there; apply democracy, practice mindfulness.

It happens that people get on my nerves. I can feel apprehensive, irritated and impatient with strangers as well as with the closest ones. And I will start looking for reasons and solutions to that irritation by correcting (in my imagination) the other person.

If only she behaved differently; if only he was nicer, more understanding and more empathic…I can give them a good piece of advice on change and improvement, I want them to be different. Simultaneously I get bad conscious for getting irritated at all because I do not like myself when I feel these negative feelings. It has been made clear to me that anger and irritation are improper to a civilized person.

Looking for an escape from irritation and that assumption of being bad I turn towards my mind for help and it, being the intelligent mind comes up with a story. The story goes from explanations, accusations, reproaches and self-reproaches to positive thinking and being grateful and back to reproaches again, and so on... Within half an hour I can be on the 3rd season of various dramatic developments of my private, internal “Game of Thrones” or some other fascinating series, all spinning around the irritating person and her improprieties forgetting that what it is really all about is my inner, personal feeling of discomfort in some way triggered by that person.

So I have to leave the story and come back to that feeling of discomfort, I have to welcome it, become mindful of it and pay attention to sensations happening in my body just here and now. It can be the heart that beats faster; it can be the throat that suddenly gets dry or the neck that stiffens. It is enough if I recognize, accept and allow these sensations to be as they are. I do not need to mark them as: irritation.

There is wisdom in my body and mindfulness is about learning to trust it and to allow for it. Turning towards it and listening may be all that is needed to resolve the discomfort, and irritation will disappear.

How about having a glass of wine? Red, smooth and dry; you watch it being poured into a glass, then you smell it and taste it holding it in your mouth for a second and then, very quickly you are being carried away to some memory, some other place at another time, with different people in a different season. The sip of wine has pulled you out of the here and now and moved you to Italy or France or some other wonderful reality…

But it can transfer you to less pleasant memory; drunken parents, broken relationship or heavy hangover… A drop of wine can provoke a story in either direction, towards a feeling of safety and relaxation or towards discomfort and stress.

Mindfulness can take you out of either and bring you back to the present. Mindfulness does not pay attention to a story. But we love stories, those pleasant and funny particularly. An apprehension about losing a story may stop you from learning mindfulness. This is misunderstanding; mindfulness is simply a tool that will allow you to choose what story to follow or not and will give you power to leave it if it is not helpful and supportive. You will stop identify yourself with any story. They will entertain you, but will lose power to control you. You will get closer to your life, to the experience and richness of it. That’s mindfulness.

“I feel lonely”- said a person to me.

It surprised me and I thought: “But you have a husband and children, family and friends, you have a dog, a house and a good work; you are not lonely.” But I didn’t say that. I hold my tongue and I hold a moment silence to find proper words one should say in such a moment; not the words we usually and automatically say. The person knows that she is not lonely, nevertheless the feeling of loneliness has overpowered her and she was honest and brave enough to say that.

So what to do when in spite of the rational truth and logic of the mind the feeling that appears and is experienced now happens to be loneliness or any other “irrational” emotion?

Instead of silencing it let’s do something different, let’s turn towards it, accept it and listen to it.

How?

A feeling is not an intellectual thought, it is felt physically, sensually; it appears in the body. It moves the guts, it puts sweat on our forehead; it clogs the throat. It may be difficult and it may be uncomfortable. Nevertheless we should trace it, follow it, and allow ourselves to experience it. It communicates through the body and ignores the mind. It craves for our acceptance and presence; it shrinks from clever comments or ready answers. It waits to be loved unconditionally. It needs our attention and presence. It is not difficult to give it to it. It is just a bit unusual and takes some practice and training: training of meditation.

What is a difference between wanting a pair of Louboutin’s red-soled shoes and wanting to help a suffering person? What is a difference between wanting to climb Kilimanjaro and wanting to walk Camino de Compostela? What is a difference between wanting to eat a gourmet dinner and wanting to become an enlightened person? I can say that the main difference is in a judgment we put on these desires. I can add that the judgment is in a story we tell about them. A judgment and a story can differ. If the gourmet dinner is connected to a charity event it may be judged as something positive, if it is connected to a sheer whim it may meet a stronger criticism.

But if we drop the story and the judgment, and redirect our attention closer to the body and examine only sensations and feelings a wanting provokes inside us we can be surprised discovering that whatever we want, truly want, can actually create the same state of hunger, emptiness, being pulled or pushed; something uncomfortable. We all have our own ways of feeling a desire. So in spite of what the object of wanting is, if it is noble or mundane one, the feeling is the same. Yes I can see you protesting, but have you ever paid any attention to the feeling of wanting, have you ever sat with a desire without telling yourself some story about it? That’s not an easy thing. The best place to do it is in meditation, in a safe space of allowing and self acceptance. And it is a rather advanced meditation, so you need some preparation to do that. Sitting with the feeling of desire and paying attention only to it is a transforming and liberating experience. Learn meditation.

Spring is in the air. Love is in the air-this beautiful, fascinating and confusing something. So how about it, Love-I mean. Let’s have a closer look at it, let’s poke it a little.

I can start by ridiculing it because Love is silly, quite stupid and unintelligent. Yes, it does not remember anything; it doesn’t remember your errors, mistakes and even cruelty, it hasn’t even noticed it. It will not see that you have no talent in singing and be enchanted with Mrs. Florence Foster Jenkins performance. It will choose a wrong partner from a wrong family. You can be Capulet or Montague; it doesn’t matter to it. You can be a prodigious son, or a daughter for that matter and it will make a feast for your return running amok from happiness. It will open doors to both a terrorist and a saint, no judgment there. You can have a Down syndrome or Alzheimer, you can earn no money or even steal; it doesn’t bother it at all. Nobody can see any value in you, but L will. It allows everything; it accepts everything and shines on everyone and everything. Love is devoid of judgment. It is unconditional. How blind and unpractical, how unsafe and unwise can it be?

Love makes life livable and beautiful but its irresponsibility is threatening. We want it but we want it tamed, placid and obedient. We put restrictions on it and make it conditional. Sometimes the burden of obligations and rules is so heavy that Love goes into hiding and seams gone.

It is hiding inside you and to get in touch with it you have to start with yourself. You need to learn how to love yourself. No I don’t call you to thrive on egoism and narcissism. Start with your closest enemies and I am not talking about your sour neighbor or your arrogant boss. I am talking about so called “negative” feelings (anger, disappointment, frustration…) allow them to be and accept them as they are, accept the way you feel them in your body (the sweat on your forehead, the cramp in your stomach, the clenched teeth…) and not the stories you create about them. That’s a very subtle but important distinction. Allow for everything you feel about your own imperfections, mistakes, fears and worries. Show a bit of this silly and wonderful forbearance to yourself, to your weaknesses, faults and imperfections; allow them to be. Allow yourself to feel the discomfort of them. Love them. Love them unconditionally. I know it sounds scary. But there is a safe place where you can do it. It is the space of meditation. Learn meditation.

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