During meditation it arose that many of my feelings deal with the future, not the present. When I anticipate something satisfying or joyful coming up, I “feel good,” I look forward to the upcoming experience or event. When I anticipate something painful or confusing or unknown coming up, I tend to “feel bad,” anxious and nervous, disharmonious.
And when I am remembering the past, looking backwards, I often come up with guilt over past actions, or anxiety about how people related to me, or self-judgment about not having gotten enough done.
In either direction, either this anticipated pain or looking-backward pain brings up my battery of defenses: busyness, numbing, over-preparing, things that just keep me separate from others and life, etc. But of course none of these defenses are effective; the anxiety remains, and gets even worse. I realized none of this is living in the NOW.
On the other hand, sensations are in the now. Even my sensation of anxiety — tension in my body, jitteriness, etc. are in the now, though they are caused by feelings and thoughts about the future or past. The Now I can work with, do my Pathwork with: becoming fully aware of my sensations, discovering what feelings are giving rise to these sensations or symptomes, and finally discovering what thoughts, beliefs, images, wrong conclusions about life, etc. are giving rise to the feelings. From there I can unwind the process and correct the thoughts. And from there the feelings and sensations will respond. This self-inquiry and unwinding is doing the work of Pathwork.
Quite unaware of my meditation arisings, over morning coffee Pat asked, “How are we both going to get more in touch with our emotions, be able to share our emotions, and experience the intimacy that such emotional sharing brings? We say we long for this intimacy, but we get stuck somewhere. As for me, I am aware mostly of my thoughts, not my feelings.”
I smiled at the synchronicity of her comment about feeling and sharing feelings on the heels of my meditation experience on the same topic. I responded, “Remember our counselor session yesterday when our counselor noted that I am very good at talking about my feelings after the fact, but not not at all experienced in feeling my feelings fully or sharing them in the moment they arise, in the NOW?” I went on to share my morning meditation arising, noting that my feelings mostly deal with the future or past, positive or negative. I am very challenged to feel into what is going on right here and right now. My assumptions about the future or my ruminating about the past set my overarching mood, and my mood masks over whatever now-feelings I might have to the present.
Pat shared that she does the same thing. “When the future holds some positive experience, I get all excited and build up my expectations in anticipation of the experience. Then when the experience actually comes, it rarely meets my expectations. Actuality never meets my expectations.” She also shared that what is really there in her feelings is often blunted or censored, not arising spontaneously or freely. This felt similar to my experiences. We are well-matched!
So from our counselor, this is our homework: To intend to feel our now-feelings and dare to share them, spontaneously and uncensored. We’ll see how it goes.