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It's been a while, but I wanted to share this...

This summer, I've been doing a lot of reading, writing, and reflecting. I've been going through some major life changes - change which will continue to take a long time to emotionally metabolize. In the midst of this, my reading list has included Buber, Kierkegaard, and some classic Buddhist texts.

One concept that has helped me is from the writer Stephen Batchelor. It's the notion that, in cultivating compassion and kindness, an individual still feels the full range of other emotions - positive, negative, and ambiguous. As he puts it:
“A compassionate heart still feels anger, greed, jealousy, and other such emotions. But it accepts them for what they are with equanimity, and cultivates the strength of mind to let them arise and pass without identifying with or acting upon them.”
This is my - our - challenge. First, recognize the emotion that is happening, as close as possible to when it is occurring. Name it. Feel it fully. And then let it flow out, without acting on it. Without judging it.

For me, confusion is the emotion that is predominating my current mental state. But even so, I do not feel it all the time. If I feel confused, sad, or angry for a few minutes out of every hour, that might seem like a lot due to how the mechanism of reflection and memory works - solidifying negative, downplaying the positive. But in reality, these emotions may form only a small part of each day.

I will try to feel each emotion fully, and then let them flow out of me. Happiness is the same. It's impossible to hold onto it - as impossible as it is to hold onto anything else.
 

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