What kind of wine would you like your vineyard to yield?

A vintner aims at a particular flavor. Conceived in January, this aim dictates the vintner’s March pruning and determines the precise time for harvest in September. It governs grape-pressing, fermenting, barreling, and bottling. Are the grapes too sweet? Are they sour, dry, or watery? Depending on the year’s conditions, harvest may be more or less suitable to the desired end-flavor, but the vintner must nevertheless bend their yield toward their aim, despite being at the obvious mercy of nature’s circumstances.

Our psychological landscape is also at the mercy of circumstance. A good night’s rest, a bad confrontation at work, a good word from a colleague, a bad traffic jam on the way home – these cloud or clear our inner landscapes unforeseeably. Like the vintner, we cannot control these circumstances, but we can bend them toward our aim.

During September, we observed the harvest of our emotions. We daily paced our vineyard, plucking a grape, pressing it between thumb and finger, examining its skin texture, body robustness, flesh flavor, sampling our yield to forecast the challenges of our winemaking. We worked with what we observed impartially, resisting the urge to change one emotion with another. Most members discovered a surprising fact: negativity was our basic crop. “We are too dull, not emotional enough,” said Peter Ouspensky. “This is why the emotional center must be free of negative emotions, because otherwise we use all its energy on them and can do nothing.”

Grape juice is a poor yield of a vineyard and negativity is a poor yield of an emotional center. But wine-grapes aren’t harvested for grape juice and neither should we settle for the yield negativity. If we work with an end flavor in mind, then a challenging harvest needn’t necessarily portend a bad bottle. In September, we examined that harvest. In October, let us consider what it might mean to refine it into a profound elixir. Which emotions would accelerate our work if we could experience them more frequently, more durably, and more deeply?

In other words, what kind of emotions would you like your emotional center to yield?