Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sunday Serenity #392

This is not only relaxing and trance inducing, it feels like it's reorganizing my brain.

While listening to trance drums, something ineffable is happening to the emotional charge of my memories.  I'm able to experience the memory along with the emotion while not getting sucked in.  Owning it instead of being owned by it.

Also I'm switching back and forth between the sadness charged memories and the happiness charged ones at will so that the joyful memories of Merlin's life with us now carry equal weight with the grief of his loss--if not more.

This is remarkable as I've always experienced the 'negatively' charged emotions like sadness, anger, despair and fear as having more substance than the 'positively' charged ones like love, joy and peace.  My sense (belief?) while in the grip of the 'negative' emotions has been that they were the true reality while the 'positive' ones were illusions, flukes--something that was going to pop like a soap bubble at any second.

Thus just by being conscious of happiness or peace I'd automatically be probing for the feelings of anxiety and sadness, knowing they had to be nipping at my heels.  And while suffering through the anxiety, bitterness and despair, they'd feel endless and the chance of happiness or contentment returning felt random and unlikely.

Now I know, from my reading on the neurology of emotion, that both of those stances are illusions.  Whether the positive or negative emotions get the upperhand has to do with how you tended to focus on them when the neurological pathways were being laid down in infancy and toddlerhood and whether or not you learned how to manage those connections, with appropriate coping skills, as you got older.  If one was emphasized over the other there are more connections and cross connections for them and thus more triggers--memories, odors, sounds, touch sensations, thoughts--that just take you there instantly and seemingly against your will.

But that too is illusion.  This is essentially a habit (an autopilot algorithm of neurological, physiological, and behavioral activities) and habits can be changed.  Not easily but it is doable.

Thus, I had it right about the positive emotions being temporary.  But wrong to think them less real.  And I had it wrong about the negative emotions being unending.  Truth is all emotion is fickle and fleeting.  So the true stance to take with all of them is:

This too will pass.

But that doesn't mean we have to deny ourselves the enjoyment of the positive emotions when they are in the ascendancy.  In fact the enjoyment of them is a form of gratitude which is also a positively charged emotion.  By enjoying them we also focus on them which increases the neurological connections, making it easier for them to keep or retake the upperhand.  Reinforcement is aggregate.

We can also increase those connections by probing for the memories charged by them, choosing to look for things to appreciate, choosing to willingly give of your time, effort, talent or money for the good of another, choosing to focus on the love that exists in our relationships with family, friends, partners, self and Divinty,  choosing to look for the potential for good in even the moments, past and present, charged by the negative emotions, and seeking out experiences guaranteed to produce positively charged emotions.

Experiences like fellowship (aka hanging out) with friends and family, listening to uplifting music, watching funny videos or comedic or uplifting movies/TV, reading uplifting stories or spiritual writings, meditate, walk in nature, sports activities or creative activities you enjoy, give and receive hugs, hold a sleeping baby, play with a kitten or puppy...

Do not mistake the use of the words 'positive' and 'negative' for the emotion categories as synonyms for 'good' and 'evil'.  All emotions are neutral in that regard.  It isn't the emotion that has moral or ethical weight it is the behavior of the individual while under the influence of the emotion.

Nor should one think that by calling them 'negative' the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear should be eliminated, disallowed, repressed or otherwise denied.  These emotions, like physical pain, have a valuable role as signals that something needs focused attention and action right now.  Too often we focus on the emotion itself  and not on what triggered it or what needs to be done about it.

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