Once you’ve shifted a feeling from its reactive state to its ideal state, what’s next? You might think the goal is to promote the ideal state, to seek to maintain that state at all times. This idea is based on outmoded concepts of how feeling works.
The ideal state you revealed through the Feelingwork mapping process is not some kind of optimal state for continued existence. It is an ideal. It establishes the origin point for this particular feeling path, the ideal end of the full continuum of feeling states possible on this path.
This feeling path has a job to do. Its job is to provide you with accurate, highly responsive feedback about your state of balance in the world. It needs to be fluid, ever changing according to what is real inside and around you. If it were stapled to the positive end of the spectrum, it would be just as dysfunctional in serving your life as when it was stuck in the reactive state.
Some people live their lives seeking to achieve and maintain certain positive states. I call them state chasers. This is not what you want. State chasing is not full-on, wide-open living. It is not sensitive. It resolves not to be vulnerable.
Real life involves threat, loss and the potential for threat and loss in every moment. Real life is tentative and constantly changing. Nothing is secure. Nothing is guaranteed. Trying to force yourself to live perpetually in a state of bliss is an all-out assault on the nature of life.
What you have done though, in shifting your reactive state to its ideal, is to open up the full spectrum. This feeling path is now free to respond in all its beautiful magnificence, all the way from wide-open bliss to intense pain, according to what is real and true for you in your life at this present moment.
This is amazing. This is glorious. To live with the full capacity to feel, right here, right now, is beyond bliss.
I remember when I first cleared the states which anchored my bipolar disorder. I was stunned by the richness of nuance and sensitivity I found myself feeling. Before that, I worshiped my highs. I lived to climb the pinnacles of inner sensation. Before my transformation, I would have declined any invitation to give those up.
But what I found was far more satisfying, far more fulfilling, far more soul-nourishing than anything I had previously experienced. Simply by walking down the street I could open myself to multitudes of various feeling states. Awe just by looking up at the sky. Shyness by noticing an attractive woman. Sadness seeing a panhandling drug addict. I was feeling it all. And not in these destructive waves which used to carry me high and leave me battered on the rocks. But in gentle surges, one after the other, several at a time.
I found myself thinking, so this is what “normal” people experience. I found myself grieving the fifteen years I had lost, where this fullness was pushed out by the falsely exaggerated highs and lows of my roller coaster ride. In my life with bipolar disorder, I lived within these grand symphonic moments: every instrument in the orchestra stuck in the same phrase, or even on the same note, for days at a time; then a dramatic crash into another phrase or note, again to be held for days as it pushed my nervous system to the limit and left me exhausted, depleted, empty. Now I saw the possibility for appreciating the little things, and I was grateful.
So this is what you get to have, doing this work. You get to become more fully alive. You might ask yourself, “Is this really what I want? Don’t I simply want to feel less pain and more joy?” From where you are now, it might seem that is the right way forward. But please trust me, as you do this work, as you open yourself to greater and greater sensitivity and responsiveness to the sheer grandeur of life, you will be grateful to be feeling more of both joy and pain. The pain you feel will be real, responsive to in-the-moment losses or threats or violations. You will feel it and you will respond to it, and the pain will have done its job and will subside. The pain you feel will do its job quickly, and you will no longer get stuck in suffering, disconnected from reality and perpetuating a reaction from the past. You will be grateful for your pain, your sadness, your fear, because you will recognize it for what it is: aliveness and truth, and the authentic engagement with the awesome mystery of being.
Alongside your pain you will also experience far greater joys. The moments of bliss you experience will break your heart open with their beauty. Any moment will have the potential of cracking open the doorway to eternity, and you will feel that potential within you at all times.
This is what it means to do this work. And for you to have this requires no more than to simply pay attention to your experience as you map and move first one state, then another, going ever deeper through the layers of separation from your birthright as a fully conscious, alive, beautiful being. You will awaken, simply by mapping and moving reactive states as they arise.
Nevertheless, most people feel more secure along the way if there is something they can do to reinforce their experiences. In coming posts I will offer a few suggestions for integrating the full spectrum of feeling into your life after moving one or more states.