Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of: February 16, 2004

Exhaling the Negative

Destructive emotions drag us down into an unreal world, a world far removed from the possibility of spiritual work. To work with these emotional downdrafts requires presence and an appropriate attitude. First, we need to be aware of our inner state, to see these emotions as they begin, to see the initial whisperings in our mind/heart that kick off the process of a destructive emotion. If we try to cut them off, we end up adding a layer of self-recrimination and even self-loathing to the already problematic situation. So we accept that this is how we are in this moment. From that state of acceptance, out of respect and kindness for ourselves, out of our wish to end our personal cycles of succumbing to anger, fear, greed, and the rest, out of dedication to moving along the path of transformation toward our highest destiny, we decide to let go of the emotional trauma, be it large or small. We choose to sacrifice the deluded pleasure of being overcome, even briefly, by the destructive emotional attachment.

Yet it persists, or disappears temporarily only to catch us unawares later. And so we work with an ancient but simple technique: exhaling the negative. Instead of dwelling on and reacting to the cause of the emotion, we bring awareness to its physical manifestation, particularly to our chest, seeing the constriction, tightness, and holding. As we exhale normally, we relax our chest and imagine the emotion flowing out of us with our breath. Repeating this several times, we release ourselves from the danger of the gathering emotional storm. To the extent that we are ready and willing to let it go, exhaling the negative can cleanse us of the destructive emotion before it costs us too much precious time and energy.

For this week, examine your ability to see, let go of, and exhale the destructive emotions.



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