By Rev. Jesse Eugene Herriott
A daily practice of turning within and listening to the voice of the heart keeps us in tune with ourselves. From that space we can better gauge where we are in relationship to energy states that are more conducive to a life of harmony. And if we are not in a harmonious state, we can make strides to arrive there. If you were to pause and reflect on what is arising within you, what is your heart saying to you today?
What are you feeling?
Where your needs met today?
What do you need?
Are you content?
Are you happy?
Are you at peace?
Are you frustrated?
It does not make you any less spiritual to accept that there are pockets of our experience that can be unpleasant. I think it is unspiritual, for lack of a better term, to pretend that you are experiencing a pleasant state, when really you are feeling its opposite. The real work is to acknowledge where you are, and find a practice that holds your hand as you walk through those unpleasant states. After all, unpleasant experiences are normal facts of life.
A common unpleasant experience is frustration. Frustration is the feeling that tends to arise when our expectations exceed our experience. In fact, an over exposure to these forms of experiences can really disregulate our nervous system and wreck our entire day.
However, who we become as a result of those unpleasant experiences is important. It is important to draw a distinction between turning our attention to unpleasant feelings versus empowering unpleasant feelings. We do not have to empower unpleasant feelings that we do not want to take an active role in our life. Our task is to transform those feelings. While we are not what happens to us, we can slowly become what we fail to transform within us.
The longer we allow various types of unpleasant feelings to exist within us, the more those feelings take control of the self. To paraphrase the great Zen master Thich Nat Hanh, a daily practice of holding unpleasant feelings in our arms the way a great-grandparent would hold their great-grandchild allows us to transform the discomfort that we are experiencing. By gently holding uncomfortable feelings with lovingkindness, we are able to transform those feelings into an energy source that could be useful in building a life of harmony. We can do this by meeting our feelings on the road of mindfulness. With the same mind that repeats those unpleasant feelings back to us incessantly and intrusively, whenever unpleasantness arises, we can meet those feelings with reminders of who we really are. The outer effects of circumstance may not change overnight, but our relationship to the unpleasant parts of our experience may get better. They get better because our transformation work creates an opening in our hearts. Unpleasant feelings no longer have the same grip on us, and we are better able to work with the circumstances of our lives.
Rev. Jesse Eugene Herriott, M.A. is the Spiritual Leader of Unity of Birmingham, AL. He is a writer and spiritual teacher whose work explores the soul of what it means to be human, through the lens of spiritual practice & western psychotherapy. He is an ordained priest in the UAIC Interspiritual community and currently is in the process of completing Unity’s Special Dispensation program to become a licensed Unity Minister. He completed bachelor’s and master’s from the University of South Carolina and Keiser University, respectively. He also holds post grad certificates in Geropsychology, Organizational Psychology, & Clinical Trauma Support. In 2015 he was selected by Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA to be inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Clergy & Scholars. To find out more, join us online via facebook, or meet us in person for our Sunday Morning Celebration at 11am Central at Unity of Birmingham.