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Fr Jim Cogley

Our hearts simply well up with toxins because we push away our painful feelings. Many of us have a lifetime behind us of doing our utmost to push them down. We won’t allow ourselves to stop. Our busy lives don’t seem to give us time to feel our feelings. When we turn toward our experience, we will often find feeling tones or sensations in the body. We turn away from the experience in the body with thoughts and thinking. We try to compartmentalize in our heads thinking we have everything sorted. If we have the courage to face the feeling tone, we will discover there is nothing there, no I or me, just a flow of sensations that may be painful, pleasurable, or neutral. We need to always give space to whatever emotion that is, and so to treat it as a friend rather than an enemy.

A useful image for how we might deal with intense emotions is to be found in the Book of Exodus where God appears to Moses in the form of a burning bush. Moses is told ‘to take off his shoes that he is standing on holy ground’. Then he notices that while the bush is burning it is not being consumed by the flames. This is a brilliant insight as to how we experience what we perceive to be the destructive power of our most intense emotions. We feel and we fear that we will be consumed, that we will be burned up and not survive. In fact they may be so ‘hot’ that we may be convinced that we could not possibly come through this experience unscathed. Yet by some miracle we do, and like Moses with a much clearer sense of our mission in life. In effect we become enlightened and have grown in awareness as a result of the experience.


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