Perhaps the so-called negative isn’t bad at all. What if negative feelings had a role to play, as significant as the positive?
What if the so-called positive emotions were not only not against each other but were partners? An interesting idea and, if we were willing to embrace it, one that could dissolve a lot of internal conflict.
If we want to be sure of a sound night’s sleep, do we practise relaxing all day? No, we do exactly the opposite. Work the body and mind to the maximum, and we are ready to plummet into unconsciousness as soon as our head hits the pillow. As the song goes, ‘The only way to feel your joy/Is first to feel your sadness.’
One definition of the word negative is ‘lacking any positive qualities’; yet, at least until we’re transcended our minds, the negative has its role to play in life.
‘Everything in life is potentially transformative if we can find the key.’ 
When angels dance with devils
Imagine: you are lying on a carpet of autumn leaves, melting into the gossamer-fine silence that surrounds you. Suddenly a bird begins to pipe a song…and just as suddenly ceases. The texture of silence is that much richer because of the single thread of sound now woven through it.
‘If my devils are to leave me,
I am afraid my angels will take flight as well.’ 
The method that follows can give you a taste of the complementary flavours of what first appear to be opposing movements – in this instance, the incoming and the outgoing breaths. Allow yourself 10 minutes for each step.
The Breath Cycle
Step 1: With your eyes closed, without trying to alter it in any way, watch from inside your incoming breath as it enters your nostrils and moves through the air passage into your lungs. And watch as the breath moves out from your lungs, along the airways and out of your nostrils.
While watching the in-breath, be aware of taking in life; each inhalation is, in a way, a small rebirth. This is the ‘positive’ polarity: it is activity, and your masculine aspect. Just be aware of it without any judgement or internal commentary.
When your breath moves out, feel yourself releasing the life energy, and relaxing into a ‘mini-death’: this phase is the passive polarity; your feminine aspect.
By and by you might feel the interplay between these two phases and how one supports the other. You might begin to notice how harmoniously the inhalation and the exhalation work together, not fighting each other but complementaries. When you breathe in deeply, you can let go deeply. And when you let go with totality – your lungs completely emptied – you have a greater capacity to inhale totally.
Step 2: Now, shift your awareness from the in- and out-breath to the gap that appears at the end of each inhalation, before the exhalation starts, and again, at the end of each exhalation, before the inhalation starts.
This gap is neutral: neither active nor passive, neither male nor female, neither life nor death. Or, to put another way: The gap is the point where those two apparently opposing aspects merge in a space that transcends both.
Through this short meditation method you can have a first-hand experiential understanding of how apparent opposites – inhalation and exhalation, activity and passivity, life and death – are complementaries.
The next technique is based on the same understanding as the Breath Cycle, but reaches it from a quite different angle. The method is simply the remembrance of the message in the Sufi story that follows – to accept that all is part of a continual flow, and not to be lost in any of one’s passing thoughts and feelings.
This Too Will Pass
Many many years ago, the wanderings of a Sufi seer led him into the vast lands of a wealthy king. Hearing of the Sufi’s presence, the king invited him to his court. There, he asked the seer for an axiom, just a few words, a phrase, perhaps that would help him face any situation in which he might otherwise lose himself.
The mystic silently removed a small ring from one of his own slender hands, and gave it to the king. ‘Inside this ring lies what you are asking for,’ he told the king quietly. ‘But there is one condition: you must open it only when you really need to.’
Used to having his curiosity immediately sated, over the years that followed the king found it difficult not to take a peep. But he had promised the mystic that he wouldn’t and, for all his royal foibles, he was a man of his word.
Time passed, and the king had grown so accustomed to wearing the ring simply as an ornament that he forgot what lay inside it. He had also become complacent about the security of his kingdom and, one day, a marauding band of outlaws marched into the capital and seized power.
Along with his closest aides, the king fled, his black Arabian stallion swiftly bearing him away. By and by, with the enemy in hot pursuit, the king became separated from his men. Yet his valiant steed bore him on, across a river, up its embankments and through a deep forest. Finally it came to an abrupt halt, sweat streaming from its sides, at the edge of a precipice. Below lay jagged rocks and a wild sea.
His heart pounding, the king glanced back, for he could hear the shouts of his pursuers. This was surely the end; there was no possible escape. How inglorious to have to face his enemies or jump to his death! Then, from nowhere, he remembered: the ring! The ring! Surely if he were ever in need, now was the time. He prised the ring from his finger and, trembling, opened it, to read the words inscribed inside: ‘This too will pass.‘
That simple message penetrated his heart. The terror of his situation receded as he was reminded of this great truth – to live each moment, with neither fear nor favour, for no moment lasts forever.
Returning from his reverie, he realised that he could no longer hear the crazed stampede of approaching horses. His enemies must have taken another route. He was saved! The enemy vanquished, our hero was reunited with his army. His people wept for joy as they lined the streets of the town. The majestic blast of bugles was interspersed with the jubilant singing of maidens and the wild dancing of young men. As the king entered the city’s rose-garlanded gates, pride swelled his chest. Ah! The adulation of his people! What a victor’s welcome!
Just then he saw, dazzling before him as if written in diamonds, the words of the ring: ‘This too will pass.’ He closed his eyes for a moment, and nodded inwardly.
And so it was that the crowds now saw before them their monarch, a softer, humbler man. It were almost as if – as some of the more astute of them whispered later – he was illuminated from inside. As indeed he was.
This is the inner alchemy – a problem disappears if you accept it, and a problem grows more and more complex if you create any conflict with it.
Suffering is there. It is part of life and part of growth; nothing is bad in it. Suffering becomes evil only when it is simply destructive and not creative at all; suffering becomes bad only when you suffer and nothing is gained out of it. But I am telling you the divine can be gained through suffering; then it becomes creative.
Just to escape from one suffering you create another; then to escape from another, another. Accept the suffering and pass through it; don’t escape. This is a totally different dimension to work in. Suffering is there: encounter it, go through it. Fear will be there, accept it. Accept it. And whatsoever happens, allow it to happen and pass through it. Soon, suffering will be a learning; then it has become creative. 
Our Shadow Self
All our feelings – even ones such as worry, anger, and impotence – have their own reason for being. We may not like them – perhaps they go against our image of who we are – and we might not understand why they are pursuing us.
Yet just as Emerson observed that a weed is ‘a plant whose virtues have not been discovered,’ so, too, perhaps any of our least-loved moods might have a ‘virtue.’ There might be some significant information hidden within it. If we’re busy trying to sweep it under the mat, we’ll miss out on its message.
No matter how fast you run,
No matter how fast you run,
your shadow more than keeps up.
Sometimes it’s in front!
Only full, overhead sun
diminishes your shadow.
But that shadow has been serving you!
What hurts you, blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.
If we accept all our so-called negativities, our shadow aspects, won’t we make them stronger?
‘The biological “purpose” of the emotions is clear, and emotions are not a dispensable luxury…. Emotions are about the life of an organism, its body to be precise, and their role is to assist the organism in maintaining life.’ 
There’s nothing wrong with our feelings as such. We create problems when we identify with them, when we reject them and react blindly because of them. Rejected emotions do not go away. They hang around in the bodymind in the form of blocks and tension. Sometimes this tension becomes so much that we react to even minor triggers. They can set up a whole chain of events that we may regret bitterly later on.
1) Frances Wilks, as quoted in Emotions Revealed Paul Ekman ( St.Martin’s Griffin)
2) Rainer Maria Rilke
3) A Bird on the Wing Osho (Rebel Press)
4) The Big Red Book ‘Wetness and water’ Rumi (Harper Collins)
5) The Feeling of What Happens Professor Antonio Damasio