Everything you think and feel reflects who you are. If you think and feel from a superficial level of awareness, that is who you are. To dive deeper into yourself and, hopefully, to get to that place where you are love, compassion, trust, and truth, you have to follow the path of your present responses.
Someone who feels unloved can still find love in its purest form, but he will have to work through the layers of resistance that block the feeling of pure love. Your present emotions reflect the present state of your nervous system with all its past imprints.
Whenever you have an experience, these imprints enter into your response, which means that most of your reactions are echoes from the past. You do not really live in the present.
However, at least you are reacting in the present, and that is where the search for your true self begins. Your emotions are the most present-centered thing you have. An emotion is a thought linked to a sensation. The thought is usually about the past or the future, but the sensation is in the present.
Your mind quickly links sensations with thoughts, but when we were infants, our first experience and emotions were much closer to physical sensations. We had no inhibitions or second thoughts about crying when we were wet, cold, lonely, frightened, etc. Our minds didn´t know those powerful words bad and no. Bad teaches you that certain thoughts are shameful; no teaches you to resist your own impulses.
More complex words and interpretations came later. As adults, when we deny ourselves the immediate experience of an emotion, a screen of words is out up by the mind, and this throws us out of the present and into either the past or the future. To feel an emotion fully and completely, to experience it and then release it, is to be in the present, the only moment that never ages.
Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1998).