Transcendence begins when you become less attached to your daily emotional dramas.
If you’re like most people, you tend to fall asleep in your life, and switch to autopilot. When this happens, you most likely tend to get either angry or sad, often without even noticing. It might not be constant, but it becomes a kind of habitual, low-level reaction to what is happening outside of yourself.
For instance, if you tend toward anger, you’ll find yourself getting irritated a lot, angry with whatever is in front of you. It’s like a dream, rolling from one interaction to the next. You end being critical and finding fault with whomever you’re interacting with.
Maybe you find yourself getting irritated with your partner, with her questions, with her manner of speaking, with anything! Then someone will call you, and you’ll find fault with them. You might be angry or just be very judgmental. Driving may become an adventure in aggression.
When you get this way, you can train yourself to wake up. You can teach yourself to turn your focus away from the outer dramas, to your insides. You start by consciously choosing the attitude of “Something is off track with how I’m engaging with my life. Let’s see what I can learn by looking inside.”
This is initially unpleasant and kind of bewildering. We’re habituated to go out, and our friends and family tend to support this. At first, it’s just no fun to look inward. Over time, you get used to it and see the value. You begin to realize your inner experience is where the action is if you really want to change. If you really want to relieve your suffering.
To go inside this way, you slow down and let yourself feel your anger within you, in your body, especially your torso. Give it space and let it be bigger. You honor, and actually sort of love it. Breathing slowly and consciously helps.
Many people think that ‘processing’ their anger means naming it and then moving on. Or they believe that expressing their irritation by sharing it with someone, or by screaming, will take care of it. This can provide a little relief, but will not lead to integration and progress over time.
As you sit with who you are, you may notice your mind and emotions creeping back to the outside, to the objects of your anger. Spinning scenarios and conversations of righteousness, of getting even. Assuring yourself that you are correct. You are simply trying to make sense of your world. None of this really brings you present. When you finally notice yourself doing this, 10 seconds, 10 minutes or hours later, gently bring yourself back to you. As you practice, these periods of unconsciousness will get shorter and shorter.
Regularly meditating on your breath goes hand in hand with this kind of emotional practice. In both cases, you are stepping up and out of the river of your life, to just experience what’s going on.
The more you do this inward work, the faster you can right your ship. You won’t sink in to the dramas as deeply or for as long any more. The anger eases more quickly, and you can often feel your sadness underneath it.
Anger and sadness seem to be linked. You can repeat the same process when you’re feeling sad, and usually you will end up touching your anger underneath.
As you progress, you’ll find yourself toggling back and forth between these two emotions, and the others, with less attachment to any of them. You’ll feel less trapped and more in flow. Your emotions will not disappear –It’s just that the hooks will become smaller. Your heart opens to life. It is transcendence.