Here is what I came up with:
December 31, 2011:
I have been contemplating this whole last year the apparent trichotomy of : 1) the emotional shifting that the teachings of Abraham - better known as The Law of Attraction - expound (avoiding the so-called “negative emotions” and cultivating “positive emotions”), 2) the equanimity of meditation practices and 3) the process work I have been involved with in men's groups that involves occasionally large amounts of very high intensity emotional releases – before anything new can be attempted.
One method involves staying as much as possible out of such emotions, and using an arsenal of methods to “change the vibration” internally to eschew them and feel better. The second just stays put "in the middle of the road" - and I feel better for it, and the third has one goes straight at it, and dive into an emotional catharsis to emerge clear on the other side – and I feel better here also.
Same endgame, quite radically different means sometimes.
This seemingly irreconcilable divergence was further compounded by my (not fully integrated yet...) years spent in a Fourth Way group, a spiritual tradition that also advocates the “non-expression of negative emotions”.
So it came down squarely on this – what is the difference between non-expression or changing vibration, and simply repressing, or, as we say, “stuffing” an emotion like this? Especially if it is obviously violent, damaging or unpleasant (as depression, rage, despair, hopelessness, to name but a few, have been for me).
And then it struck me that actually, the way I see it, to practice effectively what Abraham teach, a very high degree of emotional dexterity is required, as well as an unusually high level of discernment of one's own needs and how to deal with them as close to “in the moment” as possible.
Because at the root (as I espouse the NVC belief that emotions are signal for met/unmet needs), emotions are but signals, that allow me to course-correct, and they essentially mark when I am getting off track. Apart from the strong emotions arising in the moment (joy at some accomplishment, grief at a loss, anger at a boundary trespassed), most other emotions are “second hand”, i.e. I feel them not in relation the immediate experience that I am having in the moment, but rather at the story I am telling myself about it (often about similar experiences in the past). Therefore, this requires quite a level of awareness on my part to: 1) discern what the emotion is telling me in the moment and, deeper yet 2) what is true in the moment and what is based on a programmed reaction pattern I have based on previous experiences/wounds/fears.
So yes, if I were clean and healed, and the only negative emotions I have to deal with are those that arise in the moment, I can deal with them “the Abraham way”, in the moment, shifting my vibration.
However, as most emotions I am experiencing are built on some unresolved build-up, the vibrational shift is not quite as straightforward, and does not truly address the psychological scaffolding of beliefs that underlie my emotional reaction. And as long as that remains unaddressed, and is not disassembled (which often simply requires observing, examining, shedding light upon it), I will continue to cycle down into depression when certain situations happen (for example) - even if I become an expert vibrational shifter. Which is why so many are confused that the Law of Attraction is not working for them.
But then I run into another question – how to deal with these underlying beliefs/patterns/stories without getting stuck focusing on the obstacle instead of the desired outcome? (something Abraham specifically recommends, to basically look straight past the problem and feel/live/be in the place where the problem no longer exists, and by so doing dissolving the obstacle without having given it much attention at all)
The Buddhists have a different way of dealing with this: they refer to these conditionings (what amounts to our beliefs, patterns, habits, programmed reactions etc.) as “sankaras”, and it these that meditations techniques like insight meditation (Vipassana) are addressing, effectively unwiring them out of our neural circuitry. Albeit in a different manner than NLP and Gestalt do, as the one meditating does not necessarily know explicitly what beliefs are being altered in his brain as he progresses in his meditation, but simply experiences a much higher degree of internal resilience, peace, balance, equanimity, liberation, insight and creativity as a result. Not from focusing and eliminating the obstacles but from letting everything arise, and pass away, arise and pass away, and simply continuing to observe.
After trying to appease the goat, the cabbage and the wolf here, I am slowly arriving to the realization that this simply provides for me a broader toolkit to deal with different types and degrees of emotions I encounter, and that some are easier to be handled one way and some another way. That I may more quickly drop into meditation or the creation and implanting of a new belief if I first clean house. Catharsis is a powerful shortcut. And that in the moment, assuming I “keep my house clean” I can utilize Abraham's methods to shift away from the unavoidable “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that life brings along, as they will no longer trigger deep-seated patterns. And for the most part, I can rest in the equanimity of a meditative state, a tone of mindfulness and equanimity to meet life from a place of readiness, peace and ease.
Putting it this way, these modalities were no longer irreconcilable, though effectively switching between them may require more flexibility than most people are used to.
Which one is best to use?
The answer to this is very personal, and depends on your particular nature, situation and unique preferences. I have met people who swear by one or the other of these, and are quite successful with them - and others who can freely swing between them as the need arises, with equal success and dexterity (myself included). It all depends on your individual choices and intentions.
If you need help making sense of this - or how to actually use it to advance your work, let's talk!
Always in Service,