It is interesting to look at the roots of a tree. The roots are so strong and are so deep in the soil. On the surface, the tree looks beautiful and gives us shelter from heat in the environment. However, the most important part of the tree is the roots by which it is supported.
Our negative emotions run just as strong and deep as these roots. These emotions have become strong and deep rooted because we have given them the nutrients for their growth--we have watered them and provided fertile soil for them to take such deep roots.
In a 10 day course we train ourselves to observe sensations that come up on our body as we sit in meditation. Observing sensations objectively, not reacting to them with craving or aversion, we learn to loosen the strong habit patterns that have taken deep roots in our sub-conscious mind. We learn to stop clinging to them, we refuse to give them water and fertile soil to grow and eventually they die.
Observing my progress on this path, I have noticed that anger, hatred and ill-will have definitely reduced. However, sadness still remains. I guess those roots are very strong and deep as well. Generally, I am a very calm person and happy as well, but occasionally I have spells which seem to throw all my learning out of the window-I become acutely unhappy, miserable and depressed. These are rare episodes but quite intense when they happen and takes everyone by surprise and also raises questions on the practice which I have faithfully followed.
Introspecting one day, I realized that just as I have cut some deep roots of habit patterns, all haven't gone yet and need more time and practice to eliminate. It is a tough tree with deep roots and the cutting has just begun!
A friend asked me what do I do when I go through those spells of misery... The first thing I do is to observe myself--how miserable I am, how helpless I am and how over powered I am by the emotion I experience. I and the emotion have become one and the same person. It is no longer "I" who is experiencing the emotion----I am the emotion. When I start observing this, the emotion I experience loses its intensity. To feel the emotion and to make it last, I need to keep feeding it in a way that it will last. When I start observing what I am thinking, feeling and experiencing on my body, objectivity comes into my thinking and I dissociate "me" from the emotion experienced.
At other times, I begin to think as I observe-- is this the mind-set I want to bequeath to the next person who is going to inherit this mind?
This helps me snap out of the miserable state I am in.
The long and regular hours of meditation practice has helped me internalize its principles fairly well--I can now quickly get to experience my inner world whenever something happens in the external environment. This helps me to be in touch with the present moment and not get carried away by the emotion experienced.
But yet... Life is difficult...the first noble truth!