Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Truth and Grip of Feelings


Once awake, an essential path of learning is the art of being sensitive. No one quite knows how to do this. And once open to the infinite sensations and enlivening encounters that experience brings, we are often overwhelmed by such aliveness. It is a common malady for the sensitive to become whatever they encounter. Yet though we are enlivened by our feelings, we are not our feelings, just as a tree brought alive by the wind is not the wind.

Inevitably, we all struggle in discerning the truth of the feelings we must follow from the grip of the feelings that oppress us and rule us. I have experienced the truth of feelings when I can face what is mine to face and have been held down in the grip of feelings when I avoid, deny, or run from them.

When faced with a deep feeling, especially a difficult or challenging one, we often meet the initial surface of that feeling, but never open the door of that feeling. For feelings are doorways to the depth of life. They are asking us to be in conversation and journey with them. When we refuse, they circle back in louder, harsher ways. When I open the door of the feeling that is calling, I enter the depth of life and the feeling becomes a teacher. When I knock on the door and run, I am suddenly in the grip of that feeling.

Fear is a good example. When I knock and run, fear only chases me down. When I open the door of my fear and walk through, it always right-sizes to a deeper question or quandary that I am facing in my life.

Hard as it is, we must open the door of our feelings and enter, listening at their feet. So we can unravel the noise and tension that living on Earth tangles us in and find the deeper current that will carry us and help us live.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a time when you were led to open a difficult or challenging feeling. Where did it lead you?

This excerpt is from my book In progress, No Greater Teacher Than the Heart.


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