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-   -   The Emotional Edge (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1127)

River 11-03-2009 09:35 PM

The Emotional Edge
Some folks in these fora are experiencing intense emotional pain. Some others are experiencing higher levels of joy and bliss than they have ever felt before. This topic is meant to help us grow in our understanding of our emotional edge -- our upper limits for experiencing and dealing with joy and bliss as well as our lower limits of/for dealing with and experiencing emotional pain.

I'm influenced in my thinking about these matters by my reading in contemporary Buddhist psychology, and by my own meditation practice and life experience. My view is that it is best never to try to eliminate emotional pain, best not to try to make the pain go away without first opening to it and allowing ourselves to experience it and learn (or heal, or grow) from that allowing. Pain wants to teach us something. That's my view. But it is a vast subject, and I'm no expert. I'm a student of my own joys and pain -- and life experience.

It may help us in our understanding to examine what happens to pain when we wish--or act--to get rid of it prior to opening to it and allowing it.

One thing which often (usually, always?) happens when we open to and allow our emotional pain, rather than to avoid it, is that we begin to see that our awareness of the pain is not identical with the pain itself. Awareness can be soft, warm, tender, gentle ... even in the face of extreme emotional pain. It is possible, even, to discover the root of our joy even in the most extreme emotional pain expereinces.

Noticing these, the space and openness which is awarenes itself and the interconnectedness of pain and joy, helps us to realize that we can acknowledge our pain, and all it wants to convey to us, and to open into greater healing and emotional freedom.

It is often said that we make more space for joy in our lives when we also make allowances for pain -- when we can meet our own pain with our own tender, gentle, loving awareness.

River 11-03-2009 10:24 PM

I find that when I'm experiencing intense emotional pain, for whatever reasons, that it usually involves some other past hurt which is not yet fully "resolved" or healed. Another way of putting it may be that some part of my past experience is in need of acknowledgement and healing, loving, attention and intention.

If I'm at the edge of my capacity to deal with this pain, or over that edge, I find that my awareness of options and opportunity feels small and constricted. Intense emotional pain is constricting of awareness.

Because my awareness is constricted in these states--because I am in a fog at that moment--I think it's best not to react or act out of that constricted awareness. I need to take some time and just let myself feel and be with that pain until it softens, so i can choose my response from a wider view of the real situation -- so some "cooling off" (of anger, of fear, of panic...) makes sense. So there is need of containment, of creating some sort of container in which to work with the situation.

It always helps, I think, to remind myself that emotional pain is bodily pain. Where do I feel this in my body? When have I felt this way before? Will breathing help? Will stretching, running, sitting ... help to relax those taut muscles, this emotional contraction in the body?

Most of us have places where unresolved emotional contraction/pain are lodged in our bodies rather chronically. When things get really intense, we'll notice -- if we take time to look -- that those places feel terribly tight, unrelaxed, when we're in emotional pain.

It can help a lot to sit down comfortably and really focus our attention on those places in our body where we are feeling tight while in emotional pain -- and to breathe into these. Imagine that every pore of your body can breathe, and breathe right into the tight, contracted, painful place/s. One at a time. And ask, "What wants to be known, here?" "Listen" intently to the "voice" of that part of the body which feels the pain. Pain is always in the body. Feel into it, and breathe into it, and be ready to learn from the pain. Listen with then intention of relaxing and letting go of the pain -- and it will teach you how to both listen better and how to work with the e-motion. Emotion is "e" - "motion" ... energy in motion, in the body. It hurts most when the motion is constricted, not flowing well. Relaxation and breathing where the constriction occurs helps us grow in awareness of our unique, individual, human experiencing. It's like coming home to yourself.

The attempt to "make it go away" without first understanding it (the pain) is running away from yourself. But you may have noticed ... Wherever you go, there you are!

Come home to yourself today. Every day. Each moment.

Opening to pain may be an opening to joy and freedom.

River 11-03-2009 10:51 PM

One more thing, and then I'll shut up for a while.

In the modern Western world we tend to think that our brain-minds are really smart and that our bodies are just plain stupid. This is a load of horse sh*t. I have nothing against brains, minds, brain-minds..., but the body is much wiser than we imagine, most of us -- by far.

Paying regular, in-depth, serious attention to bodily experiences of every kind would do all of us a world of good. Doesn't matter much how, or what.... Feeling gravity in the body, feeling the sensations of breeze and wind, sunlight and shadow..., the sensation of movement, of stillness, of feeling and emotion, of hunger, of thirst, of joy, of peace.... Feeling and sensing is way too undervalued in the modern world. Bodies get too little care -- especially their experiencing.

Emotion is often understood as something we're thinking! Can you imagine?! Yes, of course, thinking relates intimately with emotion, but when do we take time to really listen to what our bodies want to tell us? Do we think they are stupid? Dumb?

Okay, your turn. Shutting up now.

rolypoly 11-03-2009 11:18 PM


Originally Posted by River (Post 11094)
Pain wants to teach us something.


Awareness can be soft, warm, tender, gentle ... even in the face of extreme emotional pain.

This is beautiful River. Thank you.


Where do I feel this in my body? When have I felt this way before? Will breathing help? Will stretching, running, sitting ... help to relax those taut muscles, this emotional contraction in the body?
One of the things I love most about my lover, 'D' is that she asks these types of questions. She's one of the most aware people I know. The question "Where do you feel it in your body" makes me think of her. ❤


Emotion is "e" - "motion" ... energy in motion, in the body.
Please forgive my drama, but thank you, thank you, thank you!! It's so nice to hear someone else expressing this!


Okay, your turn. Shutting up now.
Don't shut up. :)

But, ok, I'll take a turn. I'm someone who feels a lot. I don't think my family knew how to deal with me. They rolled their eyes, punished me, tried to talk more sense into me, etc. I think it's so fabulous that there's an avenue out there for really looking at emotions and giving them their space. Allowing them to be in the body and even welcoming/inviting them.


our upper limits for experiencing and dealing with joy and bliss as well as our lower limits of/for dealing with and experiencing emotional pain
I feel fear around both those limits, equally and for equal reasons. My mom used to say, "When she was good, she was really really good. But when she was bad, she was ugly". Well, yeah. I mean, look around us. The phenomenon of life is incredible! We live in this world that enters our consciousness through our senses. And even with our limited senses, the incredible beauty of what surrounds us deserves so much joy and gratitude!!

I don't want to sound airy faerie, but rainbows. Think about it. Light can meet rain and create an arc of every colour in the sky. Northern lights, the stars each and every night, (well, minus the clouds), the mathematical perfection of a spider web.... there is so much in this world.

I'm going way off on a tangent, but my whole point is, everything is so beautiful. Including emotions. Emotions have a huge part to play in how we perceive and how we manifest the world around us. They deserve our gentle, soft awareness.

Right now, I am feeling pain in my chest because my best friend just "broke up" with me. I am feeling electricity throughout my body because I know I'm going to see 'R' tomorrow. I'm feeling the same electricity because 'D' and her gf will be coming to hang out with me and 'R' - meeting for the first time. Lots going on...

I'm curious what others have to share... thanks for starting this thread River.


LovingRadiance 11-03-2009 11:50 PM


Originally Posted by River (Post 11094)
It may help us in our understanding to examine what happens to pain when we wish--or act--to get rid of it prior to opening to it and allowing it.

In my exprience-this results in the pain growing. I think that is a lot of what we see when people make ultimatums. There is a pain-generally caused by a fear (sometimes unidentified) and we make ultimatums to avoid the pain thus we allow our fear to believe in itself and strengthen it's resolve to make us miserable.
Then we have to make MORE ultimatums and each one tends to limit us and our relationships a little more. If we don't stop at some point we end up lonely and alone.

Where as when we face the pain and learn about the fear we can see it's weaknesses and falsehoods. Then we can minimize and decrease the fear until eventually it's so small it's easy for us to control.

Ceoli 11-04-2009 12:50 AM

I posted a bit about this in the Fireplace. I posted a passage from a book called "Fuck It- The Ultimate Spiritual Way" It's pretty close to how I see that pain/pleasure dichotomy- namely that there isn't really one. Here's what I quoted:

So, thus far; we have two paradigms, two ways of seeing life and our journey through it:
  1. to focus on the pleasure, and ignore the pain, at whatever cost
  2. to focus on the pain, and forget about all the pleasure.

There is, of course, another way. A way where we accept that life is just a dance between pleasure and pain. If you ignore pain, it doesn't go away. If you try to heal pain, there's still more there. Because pain is part of life.

Life is pain and pleasure in equal measure.

And a funny thing can happen. When you finally accept this, you can stop naming these things, too. When you give up your obsession with clinging to pleasure (paradigm 1), or chucking out the pain (paradigm 2), you can just live and experience. You can stop moving towards something and moving away from something else.

You can just be.

And recognize that life is just, well, life.

I will add that I've noticed that for myself, when I'm experiencing gut-wrenching pain in my life, it's pretty much because I'm hanging really tightly onto something I should just let go of. Sometimes I'm just hanging onto an idea of how things should be (or should have been). Other times I would hang onto the idea that the bad things that have happened to me in the past are now causing things for me in the present. I would go back and dissect my past, dissect my tragedies- and then I would prove their effect in my current life. All that would do is just feed the monster I was clinging so tightly to and just keep that pain going. It's a great relief and joy to let that shit go. It's one thing to work through and understand the causes of pain, but I find that ultimately regardless of cause, or past, or tragedy that forms our outlook...letting go and just allowing it to be what it is without judgement or offense is the most effective way to let that pain just flow through so that joy can flow through as well. It doesn't mean I don't cry or feel pain, it just means that pain no longer holds me prisoner.

redpepper 11-04-2009 03:21 PM

What a great idea for a thread River.

I am feeling neither great emotional pain or joy at the moment, I am in the place between where everything is tickidy boo and humming along nicely like being wrapped in a blanket watching tv (although I don't watch tv). Just the everyday stuff that is just living.

I love it!!! It has been a long time since I have felt just being, no shit to work out, no drama and no crazy ecstatic joy either...

ahhhhh.... life is good...
Carry on, I'm sure it won't last and something will come up for me to add eventually.

rolypoly 11-04-2009 06:28 PM

Getting rear ended doesn't qualify as drama? ;)

redpepper 11-04-2009 07:23 PM

Why yes it does. I meant in my poly life. As I've said before we only really know certain things about each others lives don't we. Good point though roly! :)

rolypoly 11-04-2009 07:26 PM


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