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Note that each of these thoughts is a particular type of desolation (to use Saint Ignatius' term), because each one makes it more difficult to draw near to God or to cooperate with his grace. These thoughts make it harder to pursue meaningful, intimate, and virtuous responses to our problems and, instead, keep us locked in a place of powerlessness, isolation, self-pity, and/or self-indulgence. Think of these distortions as specific examples of the types of lies Satan whispers in our spiritual ear, attempting to persuade us to view things in a way that separates us from God's grace and our best selves. This is not to say that desolations/distortions are sinful. They are just there. We do not choose to have them or act in accordance with them. But we can think of them as temptations to make unhealthy, destructive, or even sinful choices that keep us trapped in anxious ways of thinking, living, and relating. The web is loosely knit so that if you suppress anger, you don't necessarily totally suppress passion, but tightly enough knit enough so that if you keep your anger in check, you can never completely discover your passion. The point of choice is: to feel or not to feel? All feelings are equally valid and necessary. Feelings provide indications of functionality or the lack thereof. Like the oil light, gas gauge, and other lights on the dashboard of a car tell you that something is happening inside the hood, your feelings let you know that something is happening in your interior. When you are running low on gas, a light goes on to indicate that you need to fill up. You could respond in several ways. You could be pleased that the light is working and that you will know about the problem ahead of time and take proper measures so that you aren't left stranded somewhere. You could be upset because you don't have time to get to a gas station or because your car uses up so much gas, or because you just got gas and whoever used your car last didn't refill it. Or you could be upset because the cost of gas these days gets you really upset. On the other hand, you could ignore the lights on your dashboard altogether and see what happens. Once you begin working with the three imperatives, you'll notice that one component will reinforce the others. For example, as you begin to practice breath-initiated movement, that work will help you with self-awareness.

One of the most radical discoveries you will have at some point is that much of your behavior is symptomatic. A symptom is an indication of something, which means that some of your choices and some of the ways that you react to others are not actually part of your personality as you have always presumed. For example, if you have suppressed a great deal of grief, it takes a lot of energy to keep your grief buried inside your body unexpressed. This will cause your system to be disharmonious, and that will cause you to behave in certain unsociable ways. But when you one day release your buried grief, purging the past so to speak, you may find that a certain behavior has disappeared because that behavior was only a symptom of your suppressed grief. You might also discover that once you release suppressed negative emotions, you will begin to feel happy. I believe it's healthy to eat three meals a day, though some people do well with more. With ADD, the meals are anchor points, time markers which help me know where I am in time, what's coming next, how much time I have left in the day. There is also a structure to the week. Mondays and Thursdays are days off, and on most of those days I either go fishing (weather permitting) or volunteer at the penitentiary. Sundays I go to church and take a nap in the afternoon. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday I see patients. That is structure, the general shape of my life, most of the time. Following this routine helps me stay organized and to function better. Feelings are generally ignored, discounted, invalidated, and/or repressed, except in theatre, therapy, or personal development. We are taught repeatedly that our feelings are not legitimate and should not be trusted. We have been led to believe that feelings should be denied and avoided, and that expressing them will only get us into trouble. We are indoctrinated to believe that feelings are wrong and disruptive, and this belief is reinforced through disapproval, avoidance, and punishment. From a very young age the learning process teaches us to disassociate or to disconnect from our innermost feelings, to avoid feeling and to intellectualize instead. Fritz Perls, existential thinker and founder of Gestalt psychotherapy, says that to develop tolerance, you need to use language that accepts your responsibility.

Avoid language that shirks your responsibility, and replace it with language that accepts it (Perls, 2013). So rather than saying, "You pissed me off," say, "I pissed myself off," because it is you who does the getting pissed off! Likewise, don't say "I can't." This can'tstipates you (keeps you from accepting responsibility). Instead, say, "I won't" or "I don't choose to..." The language you use is profoundly important for building tolerance for alternative perspectives, especially ones you may not like. When you peel away these linguistic layers of self-oppression, you can better see how your own freedom is consistent with permitting others the freedom to cultivate their own subjective points of view. As Perls so eloquently expresses, So, let's put this into practice using our simple example of Karen and Julia. In step four, Karen must ask herself, "Does telling myself that I am a pest who drives people away from me represent a consolation or a desolation? Does my self-talk and the particular memories being brought to mind lead me to make a meaningful, intimate, and virtuous response to the fact that Julia didn't respond to my text? Or does it cause me to feel powerless, isolated, self-pitying and self-indulgent?" It seems clear that Karen is experiencing a sense of powerlessness, isolation, self-pity, and self-indulgence in the face of this situation with Julia. In fact, the specific desolation Karen is experiencing is overgeneralization. She can be confident, then, that her anxiety is a desolation that she must work through in order to figure out how God wants her to respond to Julia and use this situation to heal Karen of her social anxiety. Some people are pleased to have an indicator to tell them what is going on and let them deal with it appropriately. Other people are annoyed by the very fact that they have feelings. They think of them as an unnecessary nuisance, a bad use of their time, and inconvenient as well. They may deem them inappropriate and irritating believing they would be better off without them. Still other people avoid and ignore their feelings until the organism comes to a complete shutdown. Much like a car running out of gas, the human organism will shut down, have a burnout, a nervous breakdown, or a heart attack when the red light indicators are consistently ignored. When feelings occasionally erupt at a movie, a sporting event, a marriage, or funeral, we feel momentarily out of control and immediately strive to regain control. We suppress the feelings that seem inappropriate to the specific environment. Suppressing feelings becomes such a conditioned response that after a short period of time suppression becomes automatic.

If you are disconnected from your feelings you have an opportunity. You are at a crossroads: You can continue to engage in the old behavior, or you can start feeling your emotions. You will not be instantly able to change negative behaviors and pursue healthier alternatives the moment your feelings are awakened. You have just become aware of your feelings, yet you do not yet possess the skills to implement the required changes. This stage is potentially the most disruptive because you have the awareness without the new behaviors. This gap between the old way and the new way creates guilt, remorse, and self-flagellation. Though this state is on the path to recovery, it can feel very distant. It is like hitting bottom before reconnecting with your essential self. One of the blocks to owning your feelings is embarrassment. For years I pursued spiritual knowledge through meditation and reading spiritual books. A lot of my questions were answered, and my mind was released from the confusion and conflict that I had about life. But in my day-to-day life my personal relationships were less than ideal, and I was still not happy, not really. When I discovered yoga, and in particular the breathing, the pain in my body was gradually removed, and with it went the pain from my past. When this happened, joy and contentment poured in. It seems that, for me, happiness came through the desire and discipline of letting go of my past and reconciling to it. The above statement could have been said by any one of thousands of people. I hear variations of this kind of epiphany every week as people share their insights from their yoga practice or special breathing sessions. Some jobs have structure; you mostly know what you're going to do and when you're going to do it. For most of us, a job where you set your own hours and schedule your own appointments, like a traveling representative for a company, for example, won't work out well. I learned in college that I could not study at home.

The new trend of working from home sounds almost impossible. There will be nothing but distractions all around. It would be hard for me to make a schedule and stick to it. So the point is to have structure, a more or less routine general shape to your days, and then have specific schedules within that as needed. Life will go better. For me, it was no different; once I was out of pain, I became, over time, more interested in helping others heal and transform, and this gave my daily life great meaning. But also I learned that to maintain happiness demands some degree of conscious work in keeping my heart open and not rearmoring myself. The eighteenth-century philosopher John Stuart Mill advises: Let others choose for themselves, since no one's perfect. Mill admonishes us not to interfere with others' life choices that do not concern us. Neither you nor anyone else has the whole truth and nothing but the truth. When you let others express their views too, even if some of these views turn out to be false, the whole truth has a better chance of eventually emerging than if you silence those views with which you disagree (Mill, 1859, ch. 3). Because Karen is in a state of desolation, she must now prayerfully reflect: "What is the consolation the Holy Spirit is whispering in my heart to counter the desolation I am in?" Another question she might ask is, "How could I view this situation in a way that would lead to a more meaningful, intimate, and virtuous response on my part?" Reflecting on these questions allows Karen to tune her spiritual and emotional antenna to more graceful frequency. The answers to these questions might not immediately alleviate the anxiety she feels in this moment, but as she makes healthier choices, she will experience less and less anxiety in future situations like this. Buddha tells us to have compassion for others instead of being self-absorbed. Buddhism teaches tolerance as an essential virtue, since it can express love and compassion for those who do not agree with you (Ratnaghosa, n.d.). We are all in the same boat, trying to make sense of reality! By changing your attitude from self-interest to one of compassion for others, you can let go of your demand that others agree with you. And by letting go, you can experience great relief and inner peace. To develop objectivity, says Francis Bacon, beware of the "idols of the mind" (false assumptions) to which human beings are prone.