Putting attention on your feelings gets you closer to the state of witnessing; you observe the pain without getting wrapped up in all the secondary blame, avoidance, and denial that usually follows.
In the act of witnessing, insight becomes possible. It takes detachment to bring understanding, and if you get caught up in your hurt, you won’t see the reason behind it. No one can hurt you today without triggering a hurt from your past. You have to see that in order to find yourself.
As you learn to say, “I feel hurt,” and really be with that feeling, more openness will develop. The emotions that frighten us are the complex ones, because they overwhelm the natural release mechanism. You cannot simply release guilt or depression. They are secondary formations that arose once you forgot how to release hurt.
The more hurt you honestly feel, the more comfortable you will be with pain, because the ability to release it will grow. As this happens, you will feel easier about all your other emotions. (To a blocked mind, feeling “positive” emotions such as love and trust is often just as difficult as feeling “negative” emotions such as hate and distrust. Both are blocked by old unresolved hurts.)
Feeling easy with your emotions means that you won’t get so entangled in other people’s. Instead of blaming the ones who hurt you, you will be able to forgive.
The lessons of this exercise are very profound, and it puts you back into the present, and present-moment awareness never ages. It is the same when you are 5 or 85. The discovery of freedom in the present opens the door for the permanent experience of timelessness, in which past, present, and future are revealed as illusions compared to the true reality, which is always here and now.
Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1998).