Suffering Is Optional: Meeting Emotions with an Awakened Heart

With Gail Brenner  •  Apr 28–May 12, 2018

A 3-part Webinar Series

Do you find yourself caught in the grip of emotions? Awakening to our true nature invites the untangling of long-held conditioned habits that make up the sense of the separate self. This includes our experience of emotions and the stories we tell ourselves about these emotions.

In this webinar, we will bring attention to this tender part of our experience. We’ll explore the nature of emotions and how they get conditioned, the fear of turning to our emotional experience and ways we resist, and offer practical tools for meeting emotions with openness, love, and understanding.

Each 90-minute session will include:

  • Guided meditation;
  • A discussion of the session’s topic;
  • Q & A with participants; and
  • A handout with practices, insights, and experiments to work with on your own in the week between sessions.

We’ll celebrate freedom from the personal identity and the ease that comes with deeply accepting what is.

Unexamined emotions leave us feeling separate and divided. Seen through the eyes of awakened awareness, emotions are a doorway into embodying our essential aliveness beyond time and space.

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Part 1: Emotions in the Body

Apr 29, 2018

We’ll begin by investigating exactly what an emotion is. If you label an experience as “sadness,” “fear,” or “anger,” if you’re experiencing emotional pain, what is actually happening in your mind and body? It helps to become an expert in how emotions appear in you. In this session:

  • You will take the courageous step of turning your attention toward your experience so you can get familiar with the direct experience of emotions;
  • We will explore how emotions are held in the body.
  • We will look into the biology of emotion so you know what’s happening in your brain, body, and nervous system when you feel an emotion; and
  • We will practice deep, conscious breathing as a way into your direct experience.

Duration: 1 hours, 30 minutes

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Part 2: How do you resist emotions? Let me count the ways.

May 6, 2018

As humans, we have come up with myriad ways to resist turning toward our feelings. This resistance is at the root of addictions, compulsive behaviors, and any uneasiness we experience. We’re afraid we’ll get lost in pain forever or fearful that we won’t be able to survive what we discover. In this session:

  • We’ll uncover the fears you have about directly experiencing emotions;
  • You’ll be invited to reflect within so you can clearly see how you avoid, ignore, or hide from your emotions;
  • You’ll come to understand how not moving in the face of emotion is an essential choice on the path of awakening; and
  • We’ll continue to explore emotions in the physical body as a way to move through resistance. The more we create the space to welcome physical sensations, the more the deep layers of emotion are invited to come to awareness for liberation.

You’ll be offered experiments and reflections to support you to welcome emotions out of the shadows of fear and unconsciousness and befriend them with infinite openheartedness.

Duration: 1 hours, 30 minutes

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Part 3: Untangling the story

May 13, 2018

The narrative you tell yourself in your mind about your feelings is a form of resistance that keeps you stuck. If you go to the core of any moment of psychological pain, you’ll find unexamined emotions. Together, we’ll honor stories from your past and other habitual thought patterns while looking into the nature of thoughts and thinking. In this session:

  • You’ll learn about the nature of thought. What is a thought? What keeps us stuck in our heads?
  • We’ll go over common repetitive thought patterns (judgments, comparisons, expectations, self-criticisms) so you can recognize them and explore to discover the underlying emotion; and
  • We will practice coming home to the openness that is already effortlessly at peace regardless of the emotions that are present.

Ultimately, you’ll be able to soften the attachment to the content of thoughts and meet emotions with the deepest acceptance. Then you’re open to realizing what is always true and present beyond all stories.

Duration: 1 hours, 30 minutes

Gail Brenner

Gail Brenner, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and author who joyfully helps people discover that suffering is optional—and a lover of truth with a fire that burns brightly. She blends her experience as a psychologist with the loving presence that invites people into harmony with all of life. She is gifted at meeting our humanness with nondual understanding in ways that are practical and loving. Gail has worked with clients and groups for over 20 years, bringing laser-like clarity to the confusion of common problems, such as reactive emotions, compulsive behaviors, feelings of inadequacy, and relationship struggles. She has special expertise working with older adults and their families bringing clear seeing and compassion to the transitions of aging, death, and dying. Gail was an assistant clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco where she trained physicians and maintained a clinical practice. She has published numerous professional articles on coping with stress and chronic medical illness. She is the author of the award-winning The End of Self-Help and Suffering Is Optional. For more, please visit