In this article, John describes how he originated his system for releasing feelings, how the system works, and what benefits may be realized.
It’s 1988. For some reason, I’m at a point in my life of reassessment – of looking at where I am and wondering why I’m there. I’ve been earnestly “on the path” since the late sixties, so an important part of my self-evaluation concerns what we loosely call the “spiritual.” Have I really achieved anything in the way of growth? Am I succeeding in my efforts of self-realization? As I look honestly at myself, I see areas that call out in distress.
I see that I am often angry. I see that I experience much pain in my intimate relationships. I see that I am still isolated, lonely, and living in anxiety if not downright fear. All this even though I’m trying my best to keep up a dedicated meditation and yoga practice, trying to be conscious of the karma I am generating, trying to be a “loving and spiritual” person. One of the few consoling realizations is that I am certainly not alone. As I look at others, I see the same if not exaggerated condition.
What I see is that we are all in emotional turmoil. If we could resolve our feelings, we would be doing something very important. With regard to my personal path, I see that resolving feelings is primary. I was taught to aim for higher consciousness, to become a loving and blissful person, but I was never taught how to handle the negative feelings inside. I finally had to admit that there is work to do on the emotional level, and that my growth will be limited until I do it. From a more detached viewpoint, I now see how this so. The emotional planes come before the spiritual planes. In our journey of consciousness, we must clear the planes in ascending order: physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual. If we aim for the “spiritual” with no attention to feelings, we are bound to be unstable in our growth, and are likely to end up suppressing our feelings in the name of spirituality.
In our New Age and self-help literature, another important realization about feelings has been emerging strongly over the last six or eight years. More and more, we hear of the connection between suppressed feelings and chronic poor health. Healing professionals are venturing the idea that in order to resolve health issues, we must resolve the emotional issues behind them. The awareness is growing that the unreleased and trapped negative emotional energy keeps building inside and eventually manifests in the physical.
However, when I would read these statements in the past, I would always be confused and disappointed. It was now clear to me that working on the emotional level was something I had neglected and must do, but none of these spokespersons really had anything to offer in the way of actually how this might be accomplished, aside from a vague suggestion that feelings should be expressed. I felt that I was on my own. What did express mean? Should I be more emotional? Should I lash out, should I hurt people who hurt me, should I be always out front with everybody and discuss all my feelings, or should I just get into therapy? And if so, what kind of therapy? Many of these possible alternatives clashed with the spiritual principles that were now a part of my life.
Although emotional healing has always been an important part of Western psychological therapy, this did not seem like an answer for me. While I was sure that therapy could be helpful to people at certain times, my situation did not seem urgent enough to warrant a therapist – actually, I felt better than normal. Therapy was also expensive and could only be undertaken for limited periods. What I wanted was an approach that I could use all the time, on my own. It was also important for me to integrate my emotional work with my previous consciousness work and I could not see how to do this in therapy at this time. Seeing no clear direction, I decided that I was breaking new ground.
It’s still 1988. I’m searching. I come into contact with a teacher who seems to be presenting Eastern philosophy in a new way. I already know much about Eastern philosophy, so much that I hadn’t read any for years, but all of what I had read was the old school, if I may use that term. The old school never really recognized negative feelings – just be spiritual, it said. If you felt angry, be loving. In other words, suppress your anger. This new teacher had things to say that I had never heard. Maybe I was just never ready to hear before now, but the revolution was beginning within me.
I started having tremendous insights. I realized that a large part of how I saw the world and how I experienced my interactions with others was based on projection. In projection, I would think that someone or something else was responsible for my reaction to them. In other words, I believed that someone or something else was making me angry, lonely, afraid, hateful and so on. What I realized was that these feelings were actually coming from my suppressed emotional subconscious and just attaching to people and circumstances outside myself. Taking it a step further, I could see how I attracted difficult people and circumstances to myself that corresponded to the feelings. Why would I do this, I asked? The answer came that it was in order to bring up the suppressed feelings for clearing.
A large light went on. You mean I attract these difficult people and situations to myself in order to bring up those suppressed, negative feelings from my subconscious for clearing? Yes, the answer came. And if I don’t take advantage of this opportunity to clear the feelings, I might continue to attract this same type of person and circumstance to myself? Yes, the answer came. This is starting to sound something like karma. Yes, the answer came. I was stunned.
For the first time, I saw the connection between the karma of the East and the suppressed emotional subconscious of the West.
For the first time, I saw the complete implication and importance of taking responsibility for my emotional experience. And at the same time how I never took responsibility! How I would blame, blame, blame, and unconsciously blame more.
I saw that the first step to working on my emotional self was Awareness. This takes place on the intellectual level and consists of several parts:
1. Become aware of the feeling.
2. Understand that the feelings are coming from the suppressed, unconscious reservoir within.
3. Take responsibility for the feeling.
At this point, I saw my experience in a completely new way, but I still didn’t know how to go about handling feelings so they did not become suppressed, or how to release suppressed feelings as they came up for clearing. Gradually, the light grew brighter. I was taught and I saw that all we need to do is to experience our feelings fully as they occur in order to clear them. The opposite of suppression is not expression but experience of the feeling.
We think we are experiencing our feelings, but the problem is that we don’t allow full feeling to occur. If full feeling occurs, the feeling energy is exhausted, and no suppression takes place. It’s our inner resistance to the feeling that blocks it from coming fully into consciousness. We resist painful feelings instinctively, but we must learn that resistance is not always in our best interest. In fact, the resistance itself constitutes most of the pain associated with any distressful emotional event. If we can drop resistance, and open completely to the feeling, clearing occurs.
I saw that the next step would be Acceptance. Acceptance means opening to your feelings – dropping the inner resistance. Acceptance does not necessarily mean accepting negative people or circumstances, it refers primarily to your feelings, as they are. The resistance that blocks full feeling occurs on a mental level. It is necessary to look at all the ways that we resist our experience, and to make the appropriate changes, to whatever extent possible.
Resistance tends to take a certain behavioral form. For example, we can turn from the experience of feelings by immersing ourselves in activity. We can use food, drugs, sex, entertainment as diversions from feelings. As we act out feelings, i.e., as we are motivated by feelings into taking action to change circumstances in order to change the feeling, we essentially close down to the full experience of the feeling. More subtle forms of emotional avoidance are worrying, controlling, living in the past or future, living according to rigid concepts, judging self and others, even constantly seeking the answer or talking about the feelings. And, of course, last but most popular, relationship dependencies. All these are addictions; ways of unconsciously but deliberately avoiding the feelings.
The next step is to actually move into what I call Direct Experience of the feeling. Direct Experience occurs on a feeling level. We have softened our resistances and now can access feelings more deeply. As I explored exactly how to do this, it came most naturally to me to use meditation as a format for exploring and experiencing feelings. Indeed, at this point, I regard the spiritual tools of the East, such as meditation, breathwork, and bodywork to be essential in my approach to clearing feelings. When used with emotional clearing as an intent, these tools greatly aid in both bringing up suppressed feelings and in the eventual clearing.
In Direct Experience, you sit quietly. You can use any technique you may know to enter the stillness. You don’t even have to think of it as meditation if you happen to be allergic to that word – just think of it as sitting quietly, doing nothing. As you sit, feelings begin to emerge into your awareness. This is the releasing in progress. Any negative feeling can be appropriate for processing, such as anxiety, anger, sadness, rejection, heartbreak, humiliation, loneliness, hatred, inadequacy, being manipulated, used, or hurt, even depression, etc. If you sit and you can’t get the anger out of your mind from something that happened today, or even ten years ago, it means this feeling is coming up to be cleared. Allow the feeling to be, allow it to exist on its own. Try to see if it has a place it your body. Breathe into it. Just watch and experience the feeling. Look at the feeling from the perspective of the first two steps if you haven’t already: Take responsibly for the feeling – stop blaming; look within for the subtle inner resistance to the feeling that keeps the feeling blocked and drop the resistance. Allow the feeling to come forward fully. Keep working with the breath to further loosen the energy of the feeling. As you sit and open to and experience the feeling, it is clearing. Don’t be alarmed if the feeling becomes intense. Allow yourself to go through it. The session will naturally wind down and you will feel a “shift” – you will have released the feeling energy. It is likely you will have to repeat this at other times to completely release the suppressed feeling, and important life “clearing missions” may take years. But don’t be dismayed. It is enough to know and feel that you are moving in the right direction.
As I worked with truly experiencing my feelings instead of avoiding them as I previously had, I began to feel that I was starting to come alive. It became apparent that the blocking of the negative feelings from my unconscious resistance also blocked my positive experience and expression of life. I felt myself really growing. Moreover, certain of my difficult situations changed magically because I no longer needed to attract them. As I shared these insights with others, I was overjoyed to see them respond the same way. As I kept working, however, it seemed that one more step was needed. I call this last step Transformation, because it is a deliberate move to invoke the spiritual healing energies of the Higher Power. Using this power greatly aids in the clearing process.
I have found the best way to invoke the Higher Power in emotional processing is by awakening the Witness, which can be done very effectively at the start of a meditation by focusing for a few minutes on the Third Eye (on the forehead). Witnessing means breaking the inner identification with the feeling; owing the feeling, but seeing it in a detached manner. Witnessing is a passive, non-judging position, but also a definite shift of consciousness. Witnessing can be a powerful experience that awakens the spiritual energy in us, brings us into an alpha healing state, and allows processing of difficult feelings to proceed easily. The experience of the witness grows as one practices.
As we take any feeling through these four steps, Awareness, Acceptance, Direct Experience, and Transformation, we are taking the feeling to a place where clearing can occur. As I kept working with this approach on myself and with friends for a few years, I continued to see the effectiveness. I was encouraged to publish my findings in 1993 in a book called Emotional Clearing, which goes into much greater depth than I have been able to here. I have named the system itself Integrative Processing. At this point, readers from all over the world have written me and told me of the importance the book has had for them – many of them with breakthrough and turning-point stories. It’s always amazing to see not only how our emotional experience changes after we have released feelings, but also how things change in our experience of the world. We no longer attract people who abandon us; we no longer attract situations that compel us to fail because we no longer have the need to attract negativity to ourselves.
As you work on yourself, remember to be patient. Once you begin doing the work seriously and effectively, you start to clear the residue of centuries. For me, emotional clearing work has become central to my path. I now see that this work is most important to my personal evolution as well as that of the world, because we are all ultimately connected – as you heal yourself, you heal the world. Be well and be kind.
Authors Details: John Ruskan Web Site