Sadness is part of the innate experience of being human. Sadness is both a universal and a personal experience, we can all identify this feeling but of course we each experience it in our own nuanced ways. Something that is usually assumed is that sadness is an unwanted or bad emotion to feel, we can agree that it is usually unpleasant but it is also an emotion that can hold potent lessons and inspire growth. Within this article, we shall delve into just how the experience of sadness can inspire greater self-awareness and even awakening.
Why Sadness is Sometimes Associated with Awakening?
It has been observed that sadness or emotional suffering is often a catalyst or part of the journey of awakening and deeper self-awareness. Sadness can be the reason you are inspired to awaken or it can be part of the process of awakening; as seeing through conditioning, illusions and the ego can bring up feelings of sadness. This is part of the spiritual journey where emotions may need to be experienced, processed and alchemized in order to awaken.
Sadness & The Ego
Sadness is an emotion. It can be felt internally; it can also be expressed with words or actions (such as crying). These expression of sadness can help release this emotion but sadness is usually a recurring emotion. At some point you may become fed up with being sad, you will realize you are more than this emotion, that the sadness is an energy or vibration that you allow yourself to experience as a result of triggering thoughts. When you are unconsciously identified with your thoughts and emotions you in an unhealthy attachment with your ego. When you believe your ego to be your entire identity and truth then you will suffer through sadness. When you approach your ego with presence and see beyond the ego you will be able to deal with any emotions that you experience with consciousness. This embodied awareness is an essential element in your awakening. A great resource for learning more about the ego and emotions are the teachings of spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. The following quotes relate to our topic and Tolle’s views on sadness
“Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past and not enough presence.”
“Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not ‘yours,’ not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go. Nothing that comes and goes is you.”
Ways That Sadness Can Lead To Expanded Awareness and Awakening
In this section of the article we shall delve into a few more ways that sadness can lead to the expansion of awareness and awakening:
An Acceptance of Duality
Sadness allows us to experience an embodied understanding of the natural phenomena of contrast or duality as part of human existence. It may sound cliché but it is true that with experiencing the depths of darker emotions we have a greater capacity to experience, appreciate and enjoy lighter emotions. This concept of duality was deeply understood in the ancient spiritual teachings of Taoism which teaches us that accepting the yin yang balance of life will allow us to flow through life with greater ease, accepting of each present moment for what it holds. You can read more about Taoism in our article Taoism: How is this philosophy different to other teachings
Opening the Heart: Empathy & Compassion
Experiencing sadness can deepen our capacity to be more compassionate and empathetic. These traits foster a greater connection with all living creatures. When we experience emotional suffering even after becoming more conscious about sadness and its ego origins we will still be left with greater understanding. We will be able to react to another person that is experiencing sadness with more empathy and compassion and maybe even gently assist them to navigate their emotions in a way that increases their awareness. Compassion and empathy allow us to embody our connection and our understanding of oneness that is a key insight for awakening.
Initiating Shadow Work
Sadness can inspire us to practice shadow work. This is the practice of facing the deeper, unconscious and often darker hidden aspects of self. It involves excavating, bringing to light and accepting some of our internal patterning which manifests as suffering or sadness. Shadow work often entails embracing the shunned parts of ourselves; it also involves identifying unconscious parts of us that need healing. Engaging in shadow work will allow us to explore our sadness fully and get to fully know the workings of our human mind. This deep inner introspection ad acceptance will allow us a fuller awareness of ourselves as well as the inspiration and freedom - if we wish to- move beyond the personality and unconscious ego to explore higher perspectives and states of consciousness.
Self-care & Self-love
Sadness can be the inspiration to intentionally take better care of ourselves on all levels- emotional, mental, spiritual and physical. Within the experience of sadness as we learn to use it consciously we can learn to become kinder and gentler with ourselves, to be more present with our needs, to take time for deep healing and to eventually or ultimately rest in the awareness of the awakened perspective that we discover along our journey.
In conclusion, we will close with another quote by Eckhart Tolle: “Some people awaken spiritually without ever coming into contact with any meditation technique or any spiritual teaching. They may awaken simply because they can’t stand the suffering anymore.” It is so interesting to reconsider this emotion that we may have perceived as only negative, an emotion that we usually try to evade as actually having a rather valuable role in life. In our experience of sadness itself, in our efforts to evade it an even in our complete surrender to it we can be rewarded with inspiration, greater self-awareness and awakening. __Written by Music Of Wisdom team