It’s not very often now that I’d cry, most of the time it’s connected to my hormonal cycles… and it’s not different today. However, when sadness kicks in, I still feel a lot more comfortable when it takes a shape and I can get in touch with it, asking for its name, its origine… It tires me a lot to be blue for no reason.
Since I fell off from the Earth’s face I do my best to practice mindfulness in my everyday life. At the O Sel Ling Retreat Center in the beautiful Alpujarras Mountain of south-Spain, where I spent a week in solitude, I got deeply engaged with Buddhism (once again), through the books of the Vietnamese buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. For me, there is a before and after of reading his book The Other Sore: A New Translation of the Heart Sutra with Commentaries. What the book is about is for another day, what is important is that he advises to sit or walk or drive or eat or do whatever thing while breathing and being present to our bodily feelings or states, emotions, mental activities and surrounding.
An immersing emotion or bodily feeling can only uncover itself if it can get our loving, judgement-free presence. Emotions come and go, and – another very interesting topic is the approach of contemporary buddhist psychology, which I also leave for another post – offering them our absolute presence and awareness, as much as we can, may help to let to unfold the potencial and roots of unpleasant (and pleasant) feelings.
An emotion in itself is never good or bad: it’s a messenger, drawing our attention to something deep in its roots. What it calls us for, our actions, these can be constructive or destructive, as results of that particular feeling which makes us behave one way or another.
It doesn’t always work for me, to welcome each and every one of them as long seen good friends, and offer my inner space for them to stay (Breath in – hello my sadness – Breath out – long time no see! – Breath in – I feel you my sadness – Breath out – thank you for coming tonight – Breath in – I am here for you my sadness – Breath out I feel your presence…. ). But when I can, and when I can let it be something miraculous happens. Unfolding itself it reveals something new, which I didn’t know, and this leads to understanding, and compassion with myself or with others. It doesn’t get stuck.
It is very unpleasant to feel useless. And this is that little seed that grew up to sadness tonight. And it lead me to understand, that we are obsessed with feeling useful! Like our existence is not “deserved”, or “permitted” if we are not useful. Usefulness is like a passport to life, happiness, abundance… or at least, it’s a great self-treating concept, being able to say to yourself: “…at least, I am useful”.
Feeling useful is like sunlight, it offers the reason to live, to endure, to grow, to change, to move on, even if crawling sometimes. It’s motivation, it’s passion, it shields us from the great abyss of nothingness, of not being able to serve for something.
Even though neither the sun, nor the rain or the wind care if I am useful or not.
Uselessness is a highly uncomfortable and saddening feeling, because we are obsessed with reasoning and feeling useful. Applying Byron Katie’s The Work with some modifications, we can ask and observe:
“What would I be without this feeling?”
“What if, I am NOT useful?”
Does it change anything?
And then it kicked in, straight in the heart, while I was taking a shower:
“What am “I” if “I” am not useful…?”
In the mirror of my heart, I saw nothing. I felt nothing. The “I” can hurt so much, when it doesn’t… I mean, when the person in myself I identify with, doesn’t feel useful, it hurts. Oh God, how it hurts.
But then, when I can give up the idea of being or not being useful, there is this nothingness, where it literally doesn’t matter, not even as much as little mustard seed, where can I find myself on the scale of usefulness.
When it’s all right to be and exist, taking the exact shape of yourself, and let it happen, let yourself happen as it is, such concepts dissolve as the mist disappears when the sun comes out.
I still wish I was useful. But it doesn’t hurt me anymore, if “I” “am” not.
How about you?