Feeling, sensations, and emotion are “portals” for spirituality. Through them we discover our deepest selves, our aspirations, our goals toward wholeness and connection. Sometimes our feelings are not pleasant; they can be challenging and disturbing. Even then, they are the means to a deeper self-understanding. Pain and turmoil can be the first step to healing and peace.
Our feelings may be wrapped around a huge image we have of God or of our higher power. Some of us recall being taught that God is a picky judge who is more inclined toward delivering harsh justice than soothing love. Our emotions can associate our image of God with people who have hurt, abused or bullied us, begging the question, “Where was God when I needed God?”
We can be just as inclined to feel that God is a toothless old man, full of benevolence, and just happy to be there for us. Or maybe your higher power is a series of electromagnetic impulses that originated in the “big bang” and created our ever-expanding cosmos. Despite having a solely “rational” explanation for the universe, it “feels right” as it filters from the mind to the heart.
In my case much of my emotion and feelings around my religion and faith had to do with a God who loved me but who expected me to be a “good little boy” all the time. I felt a need to please God in order to get attention and approval. I have since moved away from this sort of emotional attachment (mostly!). I now see God as a motivator for me to serve the world to make it a better place, to use my gifts for the integration of body, mind and spirit. I am more apt now to be struck with the wonder of God through the delicacy of our world of nature.
* What feelings instigate your turn toward the spiritual aspects of your life—toward nobility, love, unselfish concern, sacrifice, respect, or acceptance?
* What emotions give you the feeling that you are a part of something much bigger than yourself?
* How do awe, unity, joy, and consolation show themselves concretely for you and in you?
* Do these feelings help you deal with difficult situation such as loneliness, loss, death, grief, and disappointment?
We can find many things that are catalysts for positive spiritual emotion. I often use romantic Russian music, Italian opera, Renaissance architecture, and heroic actions by ordinary people to push my “awe” button and send me into a transcendent spiritual place. Also collected objects such as souvenirs from vacations, photos, and household items, as well as loving relationships also do it for me.
What can you use in this moment to bring you into that spiritual place in your heart? Have you developed more effective ways to get in touch with your higher power than when you were a child? How is your spirituality different today as a result?
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