I know a lot more about emotional lack of clarity than emotional clarity. Like, four decades more experience in the lack dept. But what I’ve found is that emotional clarity comes when one respects one’s emotional intelligence, understands it is an imperative intelligence in the scheme of things, as important as what we think of as ‘brain power’ or thinking intelligence.
We live within many cultures (western, institutional/corporate, mainstream education) that don’t recognize this. It has even been said that feeling-life is the orphan of the self, treated less-than in relation to other aspects of oneself. So, those of us with that propensity, we experience shame through our continuums and feel the need to defend that perspective. Decade after decade , we feel less than those with other strengths. It’s not respected, or understood. It’s not a cognitive approach. Our schools don’t teach about emotional intelligence, our institutions and systems in the west have an alienation from this perspective. There is no validation, nor affirmation for emotional intelligence. We’re on our own.
So, what is this emotional intelligence? What is emotional clarity?
|photo credit: Roberto Nencini|
Because of the external influences I am indoctrinated to and live under, there is an education to turn away from and not acknowledge the workings of my feeling life. In doing this, I become estranged from the depth of me, the part of me that is soul connected. And also in doing this, I disrespect a core aspect of myself. The pain of that, the ache, drives me to know something else. When I begin to know this feeling in me, stop turning away, no matter how unpleasant or unattractive, I begin to glean what is.
Lao Tzu: Seeing what is small is called insight. Abiding in softness is called strength.
When I start to respect this core aspect in myself, I become more clear about the layers of feeling. My discernment grows, it matures. My appreciation for this subtly begins to spill over into the nature of other things. I begin to recognize the care (the feeling) around me. For example, I see the beauty of our food resources, the care and glory in this food made for our well being. It inspires respect and care in the way I work with the food and for whom I work for in preparing. It’s a circle; I care, they care, you care. Food has simple but definite vibration that my feeling life responds to. What is the quality? What is called for? How does it need to be met? What is being asked for? My thinking mind, my experience join in and have a place. I’ve been learning not to let that override the more subtle impressions, but to be a servant to what is.
This also occurs for me around small children and occasionally other people. If I’ve valued this emotional intelligence, I’ve become interested and gotten to know my fears, experienced the mired self in her various stews. I do this for my own benefit but mostly because I value relatedness. The intimate experience of knowing pain and pleasure in oneself helps me in relating to others. It opens my world, makes all my experiences more spacious.
A few years ago during a retreat, we participants spent a week learning a sacred dance. It was about 20 minutes long and was physically very demanding. There was a lot of standing from kneeling positions, rolling on the ground and standing from there. Up and down. A lot of sequences. I found myself migrating to the back of the class, because I couldn’t do it well and I suffered the embarrassment of this and shame. But I also noticed, though I was incapable of physically doing it, my spirit, my feeling was exactly in the right place in myself. I felt a right connection in myself during the movement of it. It dawned on me, isn’t it this that matters? So, my despair and self disappointment was replaced by, “my perfectionist self can’t, but I can as I can”. And I became able in this way (not the way I imagine I should be able). My spirit, my feeling for the movement rescued me from the impossibility that was my physical self.
During that week, I had the memory of being a child around the family dinner table, and the question being asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? As an adult, I remembered that the answer was: to be a nun. But during the sacred dance retreat week, I remembered the truth. I said as a six year old, I wanted to be holy and the adults at the table put it in my head that holy wasn’t an occupation, so I’d have to be a nun. I didn’t want to be a nun, I wanted to be holy; two different things. And then at 10 years old, I wanted to be a dancer, which is the same thing (to me) as being holy. That is the thing about emotional intelligence. It finds its way (from nun to dancer), it navigates for the rest of me if I listen, if I stay true to it and don’t betray it. Emotional clarity is not what I think of as clarity at all. It’s a state of listening and following even when it doesn’t make sense to most of me. It’s a willingness to not know or adhere to what is known or what is prescribed.
The methodical, linear-minded ordinary thinking is a different language entirely to feeling-mindedness. When ordinary feeling becomes mired, confused, bogged down in despair, shame, the other aspects of myself— the body, the mind can be allies. Initially the body’s inability in the sacred dance discounted the feeling capacity; it was caught up in its lack. The creative mind had the perception that it did and the feeling part was inspired to see what really mattered in the moment. But it took 3-4 days of acute ordinary suffering for this to happen, with the myriad of influences I was subjected to during that time. That’s a lot of coinciding energies.
It’s emotional clarity that appreciates the sublime silence experienced in a group sitting, the weighty quiet shared. It’s emotional clarity that is willing not to name or identify an experience or thing, but appreciates the experience of being there, with it, in it. Emotional clarity celebrates the opague, the intangible, the moment of inexplicable intuition, the mysterious. An understanding and clarity often unfolds after the event. For me, it is not often immediate.
If I don’t respect or acknowledge this aspect or capacity in myself, it won’t show itself. Emotional intelligence is necessarily veiled because of its tendency in the world, and in myself to be discounted and disrespected. If I begin to have an appreciation for it, it surfaces and is readily at my disposal.
|glad I'm not a nun! 😊|