“[Emotional awareness] is where the spiritual rubber meets the spiritual road,” says Zukav. “Emotional awareness tells you exactly when that traction is needed.” It will help you realize that you’re angry because you’re jealous, or because you’re judgmental, or because you’re upset. When you understand and unpack those emotions, you won’t feel so overwhelmed by them—it certainly worked for this spiritual teacher.
So how do you practice emotional awareness, you ask? The first step, according to Zukav, is to actually focus on physical sensations: “I’m talking about experiences that stab, burn, churn, sting, ache, throb,” he says. “The physical sensations that come with [fear] are as painful as accidentally hitting your thumb with a hammer when you’re aiming for the nail.” In other words: Heartache really does hurt, so reach for those physical sensations and determine what they’re trying to tell you.
“This is emotional literacy,” says Zukav. “When fear is present in you, not only are the physical sensations painful, but the thoughts are critical and judgmental of others or yourself.” Meaning, that fear and those physical sensations are linked; so when those painful feelings start to crop up, you can understand that some semblance of fear is activated inside your body—be it rage, vengefulness, righteousness, jealousy, inferiority, entitlement, etc. “You can recognize fear with every [consuming] thought you have,” says Zukav.
Once you have an understanding of those physical sensations and how they conjure up fear, you can use that same logic to reach for what feels good—the sensations that give you butterflies, that make you feel warm. “[When you feel] the kind of sensations you want more of, then you know that love is active in you,” says Zukav.