Why do we have emotions in the first place? Many of us experience them as a disturbance, something out of our control. But they’re not simply a thorn in our side. They are natural energy responses to what we experience through our senses. They’re vital messages from our Soul, our higher self, to our personality or body.

Please note that many Western spiritual books use the terms Soul and Spirit as one and the same. However, in Taoism and some other esoteric writings, our Soul is the intermediary between our personality or body and our Spirit.

British spiritual teacher Ronald Beesley clarifies the distinction between Soul and Spirit. “The Spirit is of God [Tao]. Soul’s one objective is to raise our consciousness to the level of Spirit. Soul is the active part of our being. It seeks out our fears and our inhibitions and makes us confront them. It supports us in facing and cleansing ourselves of these weaknesses. Our Soul is a loving parent and wise teacher.”

All emotions are the raw materials of human life, and they function as the guidance system for our decisions and actions. They are the raw materials for music, painting, drawing, sculpture, theater, film, dance, poetry, and fiction. Our emotions are spiritual treasures.

What are the messages of the positive emotions? The softer, yin emotions of calmness, gentleness, appreciation, kindness, and tenderness tell us we’re in harmony with our higher selves, and so with Tao. The exciting, yang emotions of eagerness, enthusiasm, delight, happiness, ecstasy, and bliss tell us we’re moving forward splendidly, also in harmony with Tao.

Negative Emotions: Catalysts for Growth
So, why do we have negative, painful emotions instead of just positive, pleasurable ones? Physical pain is a distress signal that some part of our body needs help. So, too, emotional pain is a distress signal that some aspect of our life needs help. The word emotion comes from the Latin word emovere, meaning to move out, move away. Despair, worry, fury, jealousy, and terror are marvelous teachers, motivating us with their sting to move out, move away and into harmony, joy, and courage.

The tragedy of modern life is that so many of us don’t allow ourselves to feel the natural pain, and learn the lessons, of the turbulent emotions. We waste our precious time paralyzed by fear, denial, and repression. We self-medicate with food, alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs, electronic toys, entertainment, sex, overwork, and the media. Our bodies pay the price in discomfort, malfunction, and disease. Our minds pay the price in separation and alienation from our true selves. As Eckhart Tolle says: “Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain....You are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”

Reconnecting to Our True Feelings
If we are experiencing this alienation from our feelings, doing the Six Healing Sounds and Inner Smile from our new book Emotional Wisdom (New World Library, October 2009) daily will reconnect us to our internal organs; they, in turn, will restore our awareness of our true feelings. How long will this take? We can’t give you a time frame, because each person is unique. However, most people feel calmer and more relaxed the first time they do these practices. Some people don’t feel an obvious change for a few weeks or even a few months. But be assured, you will be changing your emotional and physical energy to a healthier state, even though the change may be subtle at first.

Facing, learning from, and transforming our negative feelings is an act of courage. It’s a conscious choice that takes patience, self-honesty, forgiveness, and determination. It requires a commitment of time — to untie those emotions that have bound us up. Ultimately, we will save time, by having greater happiness, greater health, and a longer life. This demanding process is the crucible that transmutes negative energies into happiness and harmony. Our suffering is no longer a tragedy. It becomes the fuel that molds us into better human beings. It’s a form of purification. And having endured and transcended emotional pain, we have more compassion for others who are still lost in turmoil.

Author's Bio: 

Mantak Chia’s Universal Healing Tao System is taught by more than 1,200 certified instructors spanning every continent. He teaches worldwide and lives in Thailand. Dena Saxer cowrote Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality with Chia. Visit Mantak Chia online at http://www.universalhealingtao.com and Dena Saxer at http://universaltaola.com.

Excerpted from the book Emotional Wisdom ?2009 by Mantak Chia & Dena Saxer. Printed with permission from New World Library.