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Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Karla McLaren: The Language of Emotions

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Creating a Conscious Life

This book is the result of my lifelong search for a deep and functional understanding of emotions. Its information and skill set comes not from any particular culture or teaching, but directly from the realm of the emotions themselves. Certainly, I’ve studied everything I could get my hands on, but I also did something unusual: instead of forcing my language upon the emotions, I listened closely to the emotions and engaged them in an empathic dialogue.

This form of dialogue is not difficult; it’s just unusual. Empathic skills allow us to see the world as alive with knowledge and meaning. They help us listen to the meaning underneath words, to understand living things and nature, and to connect emotively with the world around us. Listening to an instrumental piece of music and letting it tell you a story—that’s an empathic dialogue. We all know how to do it. I just do it with unusual things like the emotions themselves.

Dialoguing with emotions is not a process in which you name emotions as if they were street signs or manage them as if they were symptoms of disease. This dialogue allows you to dive into all of your emotions in order to understand them at their own deep and primal level; it helps you remove the perceived disability of having emotions while it allows you to see your emotions in new and meaningful ways. In short, if you can empathically communicate with your emotions as the specific and brilliant messengers they are, you’ll have all the energy and information you need to create a meaningful and conscious life.

Though we’ve all been trained to categorize and deny our emotions and ignore our empathy, they don’t ever go away; they’re always available to us. I’ve found that if we can just pay attention, each of us can access our own empathic skills and access the brilliant information inside each emotion.


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