The second part of any successful practice is learning how to conserve the energy we gain and allow it naturally to develop further.
By ‘remembering ourselves’ we naturally observe more clearly what is going on in our psychology from moment to moment. The first thing we observe is how much energy we spend on negative emotions — irritation, anxiety, fear, frustration, hurry, imagining how things can go wrong, guilt about past mistakes, self-pity and a thousand other quite useless feelings.
This endless waste of emotional energy goes on continually. We are like emotional shopaholics whose bank accounts are always overdrawn by continual impulse buying. Emotionally, we leak like sieves and hardly ever notice the fact.
Most of this emotional wastage is generated by redundant survival mechanisms. The body continues instinctively to react like the much more primitive animals from which we have evolved. Although nowadays most of our fears and anxieties are created by the mind and offer no physical threat, the body responds to them by providing enough energy to prepare for a mortal combat. For instance, when you want something very much, watch what happens in your body when you don’t get your own way.
By learning not to indulge in all this useless emotional and mental activity the energy can be saved and allowed to develop naturally into something infinitely more useful and enjoyable.
This is not repression. Repressing emotions is a waste of time and often just makes matters even worse. The point here is that we can choose not to express particular negative emotions for a very good reason — because we know we really want something else instead. In this way we don’t repress our emotions but begin to transform them.
When the emotions are freed from the continual distraction of instinctive demands it is found that ‘real’ emotion is always positive. Love, compassion, truthfulness, faith, awe, a deep happiness with no apparent cause, all these things become possible — and do not revert into their opposites when circumstances change.
Without this practice of developing our emotional discrimination any energy gained by stillness and attention simply cannot be retained and allowed to prosper.
These two practices of ‘attention in stillness’ and ’emotional discrimination’ are the foundation for discovering the true nature of ‘self-realization’. They are based on the clear understanding of where we are starting from, without self-deception or wishful thinking. Knowing where we are, we can now start off in the right direction.