Question: Is there a special technique or method to help when we are overtaken by emotion?

Ram Dass: The question was, are there spiritual techniques when you are overcome by emotion?

Well, I’ll tell you, as your practice gets more and more powerful, what happens is you see the stuff as it starts before it gets so overloaded and so invested with adrenaline and all of that. You don’t let it get so intense. By the time it gets out of control and so immense, then you just wait. You wait. The best thing to do at that point is to sit quietly and to let it pass.

Now when an emotional upset starts, it may start out of a thought process, but then it starts to involve all of the body — the adrenaline and all kinds of chemical reactions. Then often, one of the ways out of it is to work with the body.  For example, running or movement. Taking a walk. Doing things which start to release the energy, the kind of chemical buildup. Because you get that kind of nervous energy when you are emotionally upset. Then there is meditation–quieting down and allowing yourself to see how lost you’ve gotten. I mean on the deeper devotional path, there is the offering of the emotion to God.  Saying, “Here, You take it.  I offer it to You.”  There is appreciating your humanity. “Yea, here I am. I’m human. I just lost it again.  Ah so!” There’s the Ah so — Right? “Okay. Once more. Boy, am I hung up.” These are all spiritual techniques. See, it’s the upleveling. It’s the ability to see it without denying it. Not saying, “I’m not really upset.” “I am upset. Far out. Here we are again.” It’s like talking with God and saying “Oh, look at how deliciously human I am.” Not to milk it.  Not to keep feeding it, but not to push it away. That’s the quickest way through. To acknowledge it, allow it, and then use body energy to keep working out the chemical stuff that’s built up and the tension in the body that’s been built up. And then get on with it and just keep letting go, letting go, letting go. Sometimes music does it. There are a lot of techniques that do it.

And then you see that it’s your expectations of your own mind that are creating your hell. “I expected you to be…” When you get frustrated because something isn’t the way you thought, examine your thinking, not just the thing that frustrates you.  And you will see that a lot of your suffering is created by your models about how the Universe ought to be. And your inability to allow it to be. If I meet somebody that is a liar and a cheat, they are like an elm tree. They are the essence of lying and cheating. If I have a model people shouldn’t lie and cheat, then I am immediately in opposition to that person. I don’t have to play games with them. I may say “In the future, you and I can’t play together because you are a liar and a cheat and I can’t play with you” but I at least appreciate and allow them their lyingness and cheatingness. That’s their problem, not mine. My problem was my expectations. If you have a model that everybody is good and then somebody isn’t, then you end up hating the world and being all upset about the world because it isn’t the way you expected it to be. It’s like you come here and it’s a beautiful day, so you expect the next day is going to be beautiful. Then it rains, and you are disappointed. Isn’t it funny that when it rains, you should be disappointed? To take nature and allow nature, when it’s in its natural state, to make you miserable. It says something about you.  It’s like decaying and dying. If you are upset about decaying and dying, you’ve got a problem. You really do.

-Ram Dass