The five-day workshop,‘Refining emotions through Self Compassion’, organised by NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health with Dr. Subhashree, was an amazing workshop with Expressive Arts, where we were exposed to gentle meditations, where we silenced our minds and, with the warmth of our hands, with the gentleness of our fingers, we connected to our deepest emotions and feelings and then let our emotions flow down on paper. It was a wonderful experience and many of us felt different emotions like a feeling of joy, happiness, contentment, peace, overwhelmingness.
The main idea in doing these meditative practices and letting the emotions flow is to learn to be self-compassionate first, because only if we love ourselves unconditionally can we love another thus. The second important point is to be grounded at all times.
These processes help us to go back to silence, while being in action, so that when a crisis occurs, we can withstand the storm and are able to bypass it in a calm and composed way. Hence the topic, ‘Refining Emotions through Self Compassion’. These sessions were an arts- Based Exploration of the Treasure that lies within us.
The initial process is to try to be with Art. Art works as a dynamic way of meditation. Allowing it to flow on paper is a process of self-discovery. There are a lot of emotions hidden inside us, therefore it is essential to be anchored before we touch something like emotions because in cases of overwhelming, we can come back to the body and be in that psychic presence by invoking the gentleness on to the fingertips, the gentleness in being with oneself. This can help us stay in the calmness and then start looking at what comes from within us. There are only glimpses of stillness in the initial days of the sadhana. We need to wade through the path where a lot of things keep coming up like events of the day, events of the past and then slowly we need to settle into that silence. Art helps us to connect to the deepest of emotions, that is when we can see deeper things unfolding and the actual transformation happens.
A sense of security is essential to anchor ourselves before we begin to explore our emotions. To establish this, in the first three sessions, we mainly did meditative practices of being with the body, connect to oneself with the gentle touch of our fingers and the warmth of our hands. We were able to go to a much deeper level by invoking the gentleness on to our finger tips. This helped to bring our emotions to calmness and start looking at what came from within us.
Next, we slowly connected to the paper and the colours. Initially, the art was abstract, however, we experienced a very warm sensation in the heart, as if the heart is being full, very peaceful and calm. It was a lovely experience.
The second day was similar to day one, but we went a bit deeper. After silencing the mind and staying with your breath, and the warm hug meditation, we were asked to connect to the paper, and paint keeping the following questions in our heart:
1. Who am I?
2. What elements in nature or what qualities in nature calls you?
3. What natural element represents who you are? Who am I if I am a part of nature?
Holding onto the natural element we resonate with, we started writing about the qualities of it in the form on poems, songs, or just plain sentences. The natural element that came to me was a tree. So, the qualities I wrote were – I am a Tree and I am grounded, etc. We let ourselves flow without much thinking to write. When our sensations took over our body, we became a channel for the sensation to take the shape of an image. It is wonderful sadhana to bridge the outer life and the inner self. Expressive art is sadhana in itself, because we have to connect to a deeper space and be expressive. This feeling of warmth is very healing and helps us to let go of our emotions.
The practices of the third day were very similar to days one and two, but the only difference was, we practised very slow breathing. The beautiful element which came to us on day two, keeping that element in our heart, we made a blessing card for ourselves, by writing:
1. The innate Essences which may resonate, represent who we are The innate aspirations.
3 Blessing oneself very lovingly and with all the intentions that we had written on the blessing card. The experience I had while blessing oneself was a feeling of the heart being so full and was so much overjoyed that I felt as if all my aspirations have manifested.
These practices help in building that resilience. Keeping our emotions refined at the point of storm is very difficult. We need to build these resiliencies, so that,in that point of storm, when the essences are already filled, and we can easily ride over the difficulties. For this experience to deepen, we need to practise it in our daily lives, when we can sit in silence and allow the heart to take over. We start connecting a bridge between the inner silence and the outer action. It is a dynamic way of living, where, in silence andin action the mind is not taking over.
On day four, we started our journey in looking at our emotions and refining them.
We started the session by allowing oneself to rest completely and silencing our mind. We became aware of each incoming and outgoing breath and letting go off all the thoughts. Throughout the session, we constantly kept observing our breath, even with our eyes open.
We were asked to write on the last page of the blessing card this universal prayer. Like ‘’May I be happy, May I be peaceful, healthy, compassionate unconditional love.” by holding onto those intentions.We connected to the paper and started tracing our breath like a wave, the inspirations and expirations, as if the breath is moving on paper. If the breath was shallow, we drew shallow waves, and if it was deep, we drew deep waves.
The exhibition of Life
1. Connecting to the paper, we drew a big circle and tracing the breath as a circle, as a boundary as if only the breath exists, and nothing else. We were then asked to see the circle as the map of our life which is similar to an exhibition- which has many tents, similar to the different scenes of our life and which is never permanent, there is always an exit. We were asked to draw small tents on the circle which represents the different scenes of our life, like the mother’s womb, parents, siblings, etc. and label each tent. If our thoughts took over, we came back to the breath. We were constantly connecting with the breath throughout the session.
2. We then started visiting each of these tents and saw what was the most memorable experience in each of these tents. We experienced both the positives and the negatives in each of these tents. By doing this exercise, we can identify what has shaped our current emotions. The different emotions that we carry inside of us have stemmed from the different experiences we go through in these tents. Anchoring ourselves and by looking at the current, recent or past challenges with equanimity, will help a lot. It is important to keep a distance from the emotions, just see this as an exhibition of your life which is not permanent.
3. Adult personality reflecting on the current adult personality, we were asked to write about oneself. What do I think of myself and what others think of me?
It is very essential because emotions come with one’s own self and these emotions have to be addressed. As Mother says, ‘’you should be refined to make the journey much smoother.”
4. Blessing others:
By connecting to exhibition, and holding them in our consciousness we wrote a prayer. “May all on earth be happy, peace, healthy.”
Only after blessing, we should reflect. Only then we can stay anchored, else it will kindle up the lower emotions.
The Mother said, “To keep constantly a concentrated and in gathered attitude is more important than having fixed hours of meditation.”
Refining Emotions Firstly, we are not aware of our emotions, and secondly, we do not know how to address them or how to deal with these emotions – do we offer them, surrender them, purify them?
1. The first step is to have the courage to see what lies within us. To be conscious of all our actions. 2. Start visiting these tents, and start offering them. Otherwise, we address it at times only when the situation arises.
The Mother says that, “Even a mental offering is good enough.”
3. Regularly practising this blessing card and the gentle hug meditation, and coming to that space of warmth and then offering, it will bring in more love and abundance.
4.When some negativity pops up, we should stop that by concentrating on the breath and refer that back to the blessings, that helps to diffuse that emotion.
5.We can be gentle with ourselves and become more compassionate and grounded. And that will refine that emotion. This requires a lot of practice.
Day five began with Dr. Subhashree speaking about the various emotions that we have. She explained the different personal boundaries- porous, rigid and healthy boundary that are present in each individual. The personal boundaries can be looked at in different angles. They are
1. Emotional/mental boundary
2. Physical boundary
3. Financial boundary
4. Spiritual boundaries
5. Boundary in time
By knowing the boundary that we have, we should work on the negatives and work towards the healthy boundary. The boundary is not a mental idea. It arises out of ourselves A healthy boundary will emerge automatically when we practice throughout the day- the gentle hug meditation.
The Mother says, ” Anger is not useful. Guilt is not useful. These emotions will not help you in progressing.”
The relationship we have with a person triggers all the emotions.
The deeper meaning of emotion is that we are attached to the external world. It is like an alarm. The different negative emotions like Anger, Jealousy, fear, boredom, sadness have to be looked at and worked upon, otherwise they can cause a lot of harm to oneself and to our loved ones. Even a positive emotion like happiness has to be allowed to flow, or else they may get stuck in that a neutral indifferent zone.
Whenever an emotion comes, we should see where we are attached.
1. What exact attachment do I have with this person, am I identified with this body or
2. Are we attached with all the tents which are again only in the exhibition which we all going to exit.
How to deal with the emotion?
Dr. Subhashree, guided us through a wonderful process for dealing with our emotions.
1. By silencing ourselves and staying connected, we were asked to identify with our true self – the flame which we truly are and from that space trying to connect to the flame of that person or to the Divine.
2. Send them a lot of unconditional love and bless them with all the intentions.
3. Keep visualising the flame of love in their heart.
4. With lots of love, hug and bless them that they may be free.
5. Keep visualising that you are surrendering to the Divines feet. That will give a lot of relief. Grounding in that silence, grounding in that meditation is very healing.
If we see only the outer appearance as only a relationship, in times of storm, when we are angry, only the personality is seen. How we see us is how we see others; this is the most important take-away.
Many emotions have refined because of love. There is a lot of space that has come in the relationship and unconditional acceptance. One can practice it for oneself and then in times of crisis it will help a lot.
This meditation helps us to see the truth behind the mask of the emotion. When an emotion arises, we need to go beyond the emotion to see the truth and only that truth, will refine our emotions. Mentally staying in the boundary will not set a boundary, a healthy boundary is boundless, is unconditionally loving. Do this meditation for about 10-15 minutes every day.
Then even when there is a storm, we will still ground ourselves to be calm, will be able to connect to our inner flame, their inner flame, or by surrendering at the Divine’s feet, and talk from the beautiful silence, the truth. We need to invite the lower emotions and completely clear all that lower emotion, that is when peace fully settles in us.
1. All these emotions are manifestation of the Divine.
Mother has told, ‘’All of these forms arise from the formless Divine. Be fearless, just be with them.”
Even Krishna says, ‘’I am the snake, I am the charmer. “It is all the Divine play in different ways.
2.Don’t be scared of any emotion. Emotions help us grow. Sri Aurobindo says, ‘’Pain is the hammer that breaks all that is resisting in a man’s ego so that we may climb towards the Divine Sun.”
Practise daily the gentle hug meditation, blessing card and the flame of love meditation, which we did with ourselves and another human. By practising all these three every day, all emotions will get refined by the Divine’s love.
Reflect on the message of each emotion— why has it come and then practise the meditation accordingly.
“The five-day journey on Refining emotions through Self-Compassion was very informative and very helpful. The processes and the techniques helped us to a great extent, to connect to our deeper Self. It also helped us develop peace and calmness. “Only if we love ourselves can we love others”, was a very important take-away. The exhibition of Life, helped us in seeing where we are stuck in the emotional front and to work on our emotions. The guided processes were wonderful and I will definitely practise dedicatedly to attain that, Joy. The seeds have been sown, and we will definitely take it forward and reap its benefits. We sincerely thank you.”