Everything you think and feel reflects who you are. If you think and feel from a superficial level of awareness, that is who you are. To dive deeper into yourself and, hopefully, to get to that place where you are love, compassion, trust, and truth, you have to follow the path of your present responses.
Someone who feels unloved can still find love in its purest form, but he will have to work through the layers of resistance that block the feeling of pure love. Your present emotions reflect the present state of your nervous system with all its past imprints. Whenever you have an experience, these imprints enter into your response, which means that most of your reactions are echoes from the past. You do not really live in the present.
However, at least you are reacting in the present, and that is where the search for your true self begins. Your emotions are the most present-centered thing you have. An emotion is a thought linked to a sensation. The thought is usually about the past or the future, but the sensation is in the present.
Your mind quickly links sensations with thoughts, but when we were infants, our first experiences and emotions were much closer to physical sensations. To feel an emotion fully and completely, to experience it and then release it, is to be in the present, the only moment that never ages.
Stripped to the basics, emotions arouse only two sensations – pain and pleasure. We all want to avoid pain and pursue pleasure; therefore, all the complicated emotional states we find ourselves in are the result of not being able to obey those basic drives.
There is no purpose in suffering except as a guide to your truth. In and of itself, pain has no worth except as a signal pull you out of pain. Coming to the moment by putting your attention on the pain allows you to release the pain as soon as it occurs. This release occurs naturally – it is what the body wants to do – and attention is the healing power that triggers it.
Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1998).