As an aspiring daily meditator, I’ve been instructed by many a spiritual sage to think of my emotions as clouds drifting across my internal landscape. The idea here is that clouds come and go, so clinging to any one cloud is an exercise in futility.
I like this metaphor. It overlaps quite nicely with the cloud-classification skills I learned in third grade and haven’t since put to use.
The more time I spend on the cushion, the more I realize that some of my emotions are cirrus clouds: feathery wisps of humor, annoyance, or connection that drift away as quickly as they came.
Others are cumulus clouds: hearty puffs of joy, nostalgia, or anger that make themselves known by casting shadows on the ground.
In my experience, only one emotion is a cumulonimbus cloud: an angry, heaping, blackened pile that trudges sluggishly across the sky. That emotion is shame.
Shame plants himself down in front of the sun with no intentions of leaving. He makes a god-awful racket with ceaseless thunderstorms and doesn’t move until he’s good and ready.
Recently, I found myself in the thick of a shame spiral.