“Sometimes I feel like a big eardrum” – Liz
We resonate with things, all the time.
When a baby’s crying next door
When our boss gets angry at us
When a cat touches our nose with his
Daily experiences leave a trace in us, a persistent feeling, our hands keep shaking, we get restless, we start singing a song in our head, then a wave of bliss floods our nervous system.
We can’t control it, our brain is a forest that grows everywhere, it doesn’t need our counscious approval.
Because we’re humans, we label experiences, giving names to every emotion in an attempt to keep them caged and predicable but let’s face it, deep down, we know that feelings don’t care what they’re called. Deep down, we’re affraid they’ll rule our lives and take over at any time.
And they do: we get mad, we start crying, we have strange orgasms (some will be noticed and commented by the neighbor)… At any time our feelings can be too much to handle and push us over the edge.
If we lose our self-control we’ll be weak and exposed publicly, some ill-intended witnesses might find us ridiculous.
But it doesn’t freaking matter.
Instead of living in the constant paranoia of being attacked from the inside, the point of this article is to briefly expose a simple approach to live your feelings consciously and boldly.
Lower your guard
If you’re a westerner (or an asian for that matter), chances are you’ve been raised to believe that you need to control your feelings and be stronger than them. Are you at war against these inner enemies that threaten your mind?
Treating emotions as enemies is both childish and insane. Emotions don’t really exist, they only dictate our behavior if we don’t understand how they work. Emotions are a natural dimension of our mind, if you ever wish to be free from them, you’ll have to get more intimate and make peace first.
I used to resist that path of acceptance for years, I thought I had to fight my “inner enemies” but all my Buddhist teachers insisted that I had to acknowledge my own emotions as a first step to breaking free of their influence.
That includes admitting when I’m afraid, or when I’m jealous for instance (big deal if you’re a guy ;)
So long story short: since there’s no fight to win, lower your guard, emotions are not dangerous, let them in and they’ll behave.
How do you do that?
“Tuning into yourself”
Eeew! I wish these terms hadn’t already been copyrighted earlier but I can’t think of a better way to say it.
The whole process of tuning in has been very well described in Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of now”.
The trick is to learn to scan your consciousness and body in order to integrate what’s going on inside.
I guarantee that if you get intimate with our brain/body activity, something very empowering takes place, you discover that the emotions that you fear the most are not harmful. You gain so much more stability. Speaking of self-control, that’s probably as close as it gets to being in command.
The best known methods to start tuning in are relaxation, meditation and yoga.
I know, some say that drugs can help you raise inner awareness too. But the problem with drugs is the damage in the long haul: what’s the point of short term improvement if you screw up your life a few years down the road?
I’m not a drug hater, but I don’t recommend them for self-improvement.
On the opposite, daily meditation practice, your ability to understand your inner ecosystem will extend and even grow beyond meditation sessions. You’ll actually develop some sort of sixth sense that operates constantly and without effort.
Being consistent on that path will make you experience some form of naturally occurring ecstasy. Your brain will spontaneously convert uncomfortable feelings into raw bliss, sometimes. I know it sounds weird, but all those who’ve already meditated will tell you that’s true.
You should try to tune into your mind, really.
Yet, since meditation is not always easy, you’ll need to be determined, so here’s some advice to stay strong:
Summon the Courage
For the toughest feelings, there’s always a period of uneasiness before you decide to tune in.
For example, applying the power of now in a moment of panic is challenging, just like diving in a cold lake takes balls, who wants to fully experience a moment of anger when you can numb it on YouTube?
If you hesitate between the power of now and a brain sedative:
Keep in mind that the pain won’t last
Quickly after you dive in cold water, how does it feel? Great. The same goes with the worst feelings, you’ll be surprised how nice it is to meditate, get an intimate encounter with the crappiest emotions and end up riding them smoothly.
Remember that practicing awareness = getting strong
Meeting face to face with emotions is a bold thing to do (especially with nasty ones, like fear, anger and depression). Deciding to go down in the cage and conquer your fears is the ultimate challenge. You’ve decided to go that way. Give yourself a pat on the back for me.
Don’t fool yourself: emotions are there even if you don’t take action
You can still ignore feelings, but then they’ll control you. In fact, now that you’ve heard of mindfulness meditation, you have no real choice but applying it :)
Do it again
I forgot to mention: the awareness process is to be repeated every moment. If you want to benefit from the power of now then you’ll have to do it NOW. That means most of the time!
And yes, it’s like working out. If you quit exercising, you’ll lose your edge…
So in a nutshell: practice the “lower your guard”, “Tune in” everyday. Even if it’s only 5 minutes a day. This piece of advice is essential, I’ve heard every single meditation masters repeat it.
I guess they had a good reason.
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