Friday, July 11, 2014

Any Old Hairy Milk-Guzzler Has Feels

One of the first exercises in Thich Nhat Hanh's mindfulness meditation discipline is to focus on the breath. "Inhale. Exhale." The practitioner becomes aware of inspiration and expiration, focusing on these and letting thoughts and feelings drift by without dwelling on them. The exercise is particularly useful in calming oneself, especially if your nerves are frayed and ragged.

Further reading in Buddhist meditation techniques brought me to anger management practice. The author, whose name escapes me at the moment, considers anger to be a delusion, an error. When the meditator realizes this, then anger slips away, and they are free from it. I admit it. I'm not highly evolved enough for this approach to do me any good.

Emotions are a normal response to stimuli in a mammalian brain. That is to say, any old hairy milk-guzzler has feels. Real events and my own responses to those events have caused my brain to be drunk on its own personalized emotional cocktail. It's much more useful to allow yourself to actually feel these things - all the sadness, the confusion, the anger. What I don't allow myself to do is worry.

Dealing directly with emotions, understanding their causes and having access to techniques for healthy expression of them gives you power over them that avoidance and denial and repression robs you of. You can get control of them, you can get control of your life. You don't have to allow your feelings to control you.

From the Christian perspective, forgiveness is advocated. Once again, my current mindset deviates from the teaching. I don't want to forgive, at least, not now. Folks could judge me for this, but I don't care what anyone says about it or how they treat me for it, for I won't forgive until I'm good and ready, if ever. I'm not yet strong enough to forgive. Not yet.

Maybe it's a sin to choose not to forgive those who've trespassed against me. It's not that I don't care. But God hasn't put it in my heart to forgive. Not yet. What is in my heart at this moment is a feeling of building, of growth, of increase, of strengthening, of renewal, of awakening, of rebirth. I'm a child of God just opening his eyes. I can't even crawl yet. I'm not strong enough to perform so godly an act as true, pure, deep, heartfelt forgiveness and have it be in any way meaningful.

Jesus forgave everybody. But he's God. I can strive to imitate Christ, to seek after that ideal of righteousness, but I'm just a man. I've sinned, made mistakes. I can strive not to do so, but I will sin again. Someday, perhaps, I will be ready to forgive. But not now.

Besides, "to everything there is a season." Now begins my season of anger, my season of burning, my season of baptism by fire, my season of rain to hydrate the droughts, a season both vernal and green as well as a golden summer, a season of feverish activity, of heat and passion, a season to sew the fields but not yet to harvest. Who knows what the future will hold for me - there will certainly be good as well as bad times ahead. But now is an exciting time.