Jesus used to say that it is no use looking for the Kingdom of God in the outer world because it is within us. Following this guidance, seekers try to go inward into the depth of their being, but encounter challenges naturally.
Practicing body awareness is not easy, holding emotions in awareness is even less simple, and being aware of the mind’s movements is truly difficult. I have encountered people who were struggling to identify the emotion they were experiencing at the moment numerous times. A deeply seated habit to repress and turn away from one’s own emotions is the reason why people don’t know themselves, such that they can go on swearing that they feel love while they are consumed by anger, or state that they feel nothing but peace and indifference while their masseters are tense and jaws clenched.
Denying one’s own feelings to preserve an ideal image of self is a very common habit. Denial of one’s own inner reality manifests itself as the unwillingness to see negative emotions and as a result, leads them to develop a selective blindness. The seeker arrives at the point where he finds himself unable to be aware or witness anything that involves his emotions.
To avoid such a potential impasse, you must realize the fact that no one but you supports a ban on being aware of negative emotions. At some point in your childhood, you accepted this ban as guidance your parents and teachers enforced. Ever since, it has been a part of your self-control mechanism and fosters an illusion that ego is in charge of your inner state of affairs. This is not the case, and your self-control collapses occasionally and wreaks havoc within you.
This ban is preposterous, yet you created it, and hence you can overturn it. Inner chaos has caused the ban on expressing emotions and the need to exert constant control. In contrast, becoming aware of emotions allows one to resolve existing problems without creating new ones.
Together, the ban and control have become part of your conditioning, part of your being, and it will take effort to change the status quo. You will have to accept yourself and let yourself be the way you are, and no longer compare your demeanor with the guidelines of ideal behavior that were drilled into your head. Change doesn’t happen overnight, as I stated earlier. The most important thing here is to permit yourself to express your emotions and stop being afraid of their manifestations.
Actually, your emotional energy is just waiting for a chance to exert itself. If you agree to welcome emotional manifestations, they will not be long in coming. What will come to the surface will be just the tip of the iceberg, as too much has been repressed over the years, but that’s another matter. Even so, this will provide you with material for observation and an opportunity to work on the repressed emotions that contaminate your psychological state constantly. Once you have seen your anger, you should initiate the process of letting it out using specialized techniques, and you may also want to investigate its cause, that is, the underlying desire. Fear can be observed by allowing its hidden source and veiled manifestations to step into the light of your consciousness.
Practicing observation diligently helps one learn to discern even the most subtle movements of any emotion. At the beginning, it is obviously easier to begin working on rough, apparently visible, emotional states. However, it is not uncommon for a person to fail to detect and remain blind to their predominant and frequently recurring emotion. One can feel nervous, yet fail to perceive one’s anxiety, or be scared and still unable to recognize one’s fear. When you take the first steps in practicing witnessing while in a mental state as described above, you see everything but the main problem. This is the hidden cunningness of self-identification at work: The more one identifies with something, the more difficult it is to see and become aware of the fact.
Under such circumstances, it helps to enlist an external witness’s assistance—one who will help the person identify his emotional issue. As they say, standers-by see more than gamesters. Having the Master as a witness is the best but, from my experience, few seekers can find one. Technically, anyone who practices awareness can serve as a mirror for a seeker, but to qualify, the person has to be good at being able to distinguish between the things that he really sees and his own mind’s projections. Thus, feedback from those who do not practice self-observation can be fallacious, as far too often, it speaks more about the projections of their minds than about the subject of observation.
An outside witness’s assistance can be highly valuable for a seeker. They help guide a seeker to what he should be directing his attention, and if the seeker has sufficient trust and perseverance, he begins to realize that the information that has been shared with him is real and he has simply been unable to see it all along. Then, the seeker’s opportunity to change his situation finally arrives.