by Prema Sheerin, Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Fire, or heart, provides us the capacity to feel emotions. But we can find their natural cycles and fluidity confused or blocked by stuck ways of thinking. This is the third installment of a five-article series Prema Sheerin is writing on emotional wisdom. You'll find links to the other two installments of this series in the side bar when you follow the "Continue Reading" link below.
As the days shorten in the Northern Hemisphere, we move into the season known as Late Summer. This season is resonant with the earth element, as with the abundance, sweetness and nourishment of the harvest. The earth element also expresses as the emotion of Sympathy.
We have such a broad spectrum of associations with the emotion of “sympathy,” ranging from seeing it as a positive, virtuous impulse to looking askance at it as a form of condescending pity. So let’s start by clarifying what we mean by sympathy in the context of this series of articles on emotional wisdom.
As with Fear and Happiness, described in the first two articles in this series on emotional wisdom, Sympathy is one of five elemental emotions. These arise in response to life circumstances, move us to respond effectively and then dissipate as the situation changes. Sympathy is the elemental emotion that allows us to feel and appreciate the experience of another or of ourselves. It is especially relevant for challenging experiences and it gives rise to the impulse to reach out and offer support, comfort and understanding….