By Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi and Ilia Shinko Perez, Roshi //
Many spiritual practitioners are confused about what to do when feelings and emotions arise during meditation. Some traditions teach to treat the emotions like thoughts and let them go, returning to the breath. In Zen Path of the Heart, feeling sensations and emotions are welcomed and seen as necessary aspects of progress in the path of awakening. The sensations of emotions, when present, become the focal point of the concentrated mind and are held with nonjudgmental awareness. This gentle and kind acceptance of our present state allows feelings to come, run their course, and dissolve and transform.
Allowing these emotional processes to unfold as they naturally need to heals the emotional wounds developed throughout one’s life, and thereby dissolving karmic habit patterns. Ongoing meditation develops the expansive container that can hold these emotional states without needing to eject into mental stories or repress the emotion through avoidance. The path to the recognition of our True Being must include everything: our feelings, our personality and our humanity.
Spiritual awakening and healing are inseparable when one meditates with the Heart. In the Zen Path of the Heart we connect with our Heart and bear witness to what it is to be our authentic selves in each moment.
“The practice of the Heart requires that we be aware of what happens inside our mind, body and heart, that we witness our feelings without adding stories or internal dialogues, without criticizing, without judging anything of what there is – simply that we feel the energy of our emotions and feelings in the body.” — The Great Heart Way, by Ilia Perez and Gerry Wick
About the Authors
Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi, PhD received transmission in the Zen tradition from Taizan Maezumi Roshi in 1990 and is president and co-spiritual leader of Great Mountain Zen Center, based in Berthoud, Colorado. He is author of The Book of Equanimity: Illuminating Classic Zen Koans, My American Zen Life, and co-author of The Great Heart Way.
Ilia Shinko Perez, Roshi, MA received transmission in the Zen tradition from Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi in 2000. She is the co-spiritual leader of the Great Mountain Zen Center and abbess of Maitreya Abbey in Berthoud, Colorado. Roshi Shinko is co-author of The Great Heart Way.
Featured image by Leslie Gossett