Leading swiftly on from Motivation, more correctly the practice of ‘Enthusiasm’ we get to its more attractive sister – Feeling, forms of feeling to be precise.
So, Big Question – do you have any idea what your feelings actually are…? Do you understand the most basic system that makes up ‘you’… your ‘state of mind’, what the Daoists call your Xin (heart/mind) – a dangerous little combination of BOTH your thoughts and feelings (yep they exist together) that rules your whole goddamn life? Well, to get ANYWHERE in spirituality you are going to need too, you need a basic understanding of ‘yourself’, cause sounds like you are just kinda winging at the mo…
Ok, the model for your state of mind is simple (at this stage), but grasping it is crucial to able to work ‘on yourself’. Important to note that this is a very complex topic I’m attempting to simplify so you can USE it. At this stage its simply not necessary to understand it fully, indeed that is a lifetimes study.
‘Mind State’ breaks down into 3 connected but distinctly separate layers, in order of depth, level of persistence from the bottom up we have:
- Your baseline ‘Mood’ – EGO state driven by the collected weight of your memories/experiences/habits/desires/pains,
- Your ‘Emotions’ – Spiritual State, driven by your reactions from your unconscious,
- Your ‘Sensations’ – Physical state, driven by your senses and your body.
Your Mood is very persistent, normally only varying with cycles of time and in response to conditions. These changes are predetermined, as they are stored up over the years and decades, they are based on memories of what has happened. Best analogy is to think of your Mood as an huge oil tanker, that is VERY slow to respond to its controls. Your overall mood state is largely invisible to you, as it’s your personal reality (your Mood literally ‘is’ you, your person…ality, get it..), so you consider it normal, much as its really not. Without dramatic intervention, without ‘shocking’ your mood state, it is impossible to change it quickly, and you must chip away at it, with the sharpest tools you can get to have any lasting impact, through the manipulation of other aspects of your mind state. These changes create new more powerful baseline memories which are over time adopted into your mood state. It is important not to fool yourself that you can already change your actual mood, through drama, stimulates, conflict et al, these only appear to work because these ‘cover it up’ with relatively powerful but very short term emotions and feelings. Lastly your mood is a creature of habit, and not only does the same things over and over, through your unconscious identification it actually CAUSES the same things to happen over again, whether YOU want it to or not.
Your emotions are much more visible to you, as your experience the ‘change’ of them over shorter time, and become aware of the good or bad nature of them, much as that is largely arbitrary – you decide what you like, don’t like and what ‘works’ for you, your emotions are agnostic in themselves, its actually your mood state (You) that is labeling them. Your emotions generally happen in response to something you perceive consciously, however in many people (spiritual types) emotions can occur totally unconsciously, which often leads to mistakenly linking them to to incorrect causes and conditions. Your emotions have a finite life cycle and don’t tend to persist very long at all (few mins to hours), unless you continually re-trigger them. Your emotions can effect both your Mood state and you feelings at the same time, but tend to work mostly on your mood state, setting a cycle or conditioned response, hence why many people unknowingly use strong emotion to ‘try’ and improve their mood, even becoming addicted to it. Lastly it important to note that your emotions vary dramatically in strength, and you are only really be aware of the stronger ones, particularity if you are a man or depending on how ’emotional’ you are as a woman. Remember there are many lesser emotions that you tend to gloss over and ignore through the day but they are still there, effecting your judgement, and you really should not do this, better to know they are there than not.
Your Sensations, the strongest and most affecting part of your mind state are driven by your body, and more correctly your biological responses – pain, hunger, thirst, but also include the animal aspect of sensory driven attraction or repulsion. Important to note at this stage that your sensations also include your instincts and intuition, the more supernatural but still very real senses that are often confused with emotions in sensitive people. Sensations generally trigger the associated emotions very quickly so it is easy to confuse them as one thing, however they are actually separate. Your sensations change almost instantaneously, and end as soon as the stimulus for them has gone, and are therefore easy to link to there direct causes. However they often trigger strong emotions which are more persistent, which leads to confusion between the 2. Sensations have an indirect effect on mood state, by them triggering your emotions first.
Note your are going to be using your sensations to change your mind state, so its important to start to separate your emotions and sensations out, play around with your physical feelings a little to underline this. Separate pain from anger, separate being uncomfortable from being bored, separate out attraction from desire, etc etc.
Now, remember this, its important, all these 3 exist together AT THE SAME TIME with the composite effect it has on you equaling the ‘way you feel’ right now, which usually tends to be the strongest element of these 3 at any given moment (if at all). Typically your ‘sensations’ over power your ’emotions’, and your ’emotions’ overpower your mood state. However because your mood state is the most persistent it controls you all the time, with the other 2 playing greater or lesser bit part roles over time. However these bit part roles eventually add into your mood state, and there where the magic happens. The ability of your sensations to overpower everything is crucial to this process. You should give particular focus to the sensation of physical ‘Tension’ and its ‘Release’, cause this is how we are going to do it.
Lastly remember your Mood state, your ego, however weak its manifestation is to you, is still the BOSS – your emotions and feelings are interpreted and acted on by your mood state, which causes the wide range of responses you typically have to the exact same emotions and feelings in different Moods states. A good mood state can deal with the mild annoyance that a bad mood state turns into an ‘end of the world’ drama.
To start this you need to assess and keep in mind how your are feeling, which is easier said than done for most normal people, however it is a simple skill to learn. The trick is to consciously do it in the 3rd person and emphasis the process of ‘finding out’, of ‘listening’ or ‘watching’ your self, to develop it as a habit – simply take a moment to be VERY still, and then mentally ask yourself ‘how is (your name) feeling’ and then do a ‘memory check’ of how you felt in last 10secs. When you start to get into it you will notice a distance, that may feel like a height above yourself, start to form between ‘you the observer’ and ‘you the person’ (the source of your mind state), that will make it much easier. It will be very part time at first but that’s fine, just check yourself causally through the day, and when you are conscious of strong emotions or mood states.
Ahh you say, but I don’t know how I feel at any given moment, even when I check, I need someone else to tell me, or think about it afterwards, ‘I’m sorry, I must of been so mad that I don’t know what came over me to say that…’, kinda thing. So I say… ‘are you fucking kidding me?’, but no, seriously I get through recent conversations there is a whole class of people who are so possessed by their Mood state and Emotions that they simply can not identify them at the time, though hopefully you are so not so dead inside that you still feel pain…
So the trick to it is this, 2 simple concepts to hold in mind
- remember what you just ‘did’ or ‘thought’ or ‘reacted to’, and then assess how you were feeling because of that action or thought, what were your most likely feelings on that basis, then…
- remember your Mind state is made up of 3 types of ‘feelings’, and the entry point to each one is different:
- Moods are most easily accessed via your habitual thought patterns, ie what story were you telling yourself at this moment, what were you thinking about, ie your thinking you won’t get something you want cause you are not good enough, lucky enough, clever enough in some way, etc.
- Emotions are most easily accessed via the tendency to effect your actions (that is what the word e-motion means), ie to start or stop you doing something, ie anger makes you want to shout, be aggressive etc.
- Sensations are a reaction and cause a visceral feeling, inside your body or on the surface of you skin, its a physical thing, ie attraction causes a physical sensation of arousal, blood flow, heightened intensity from hormone release etc.
In the short term just focus on the most powerful one of the 3, as it will be hard to do them all out of the box, much as they are all there, all the time. Just remember the trick above and over time it will help recognize and decide between a mood (thought pattern/no action or sensation), emotion (pushing you to do or not do something) or sensation (body is reacting to stimulus). Over time you will start to realize that any thought related feeling is a Mood, is your ego and NOT an emotion. And over time you should start to see that any physically driven feeling is sensation and NOT an emotion. Emotions are actually something else entirely, but that’s for another time.
Lastly before I finish this section its important to get one other aspect, indeed the aspect we are going to use, the concept, the root feeling of ‘TENSION’, in the forms of mental tension, emotional tension and physical tension. Tension is the enemy here, and its strength of that tension that brings your feelings to the surface of your mind, that prolongs them, that makes them noticeable. Tension, in a very real sense is the source of all of this, it is ‘before’ the manifestations of your moods, emotions, sensations, it is the source of them. In a short time you should even be able to more quickly identify this source when you start to look for them in yourself, as the tension will persist far longer than the manifestation, which will tend to quickly fade when you give your disinterested attention to it. Manifestations change, evolve, rotate around a point, but the tension will sit there until you do something about it..
If you can keep ‘it in mind’ then you should start to be able to realize that these states of mind are the source of all your thoughts, they are what Zen men call ‘before’ thought, and that’s when the fun truly begins, boys and girls. Most of all remember that your Mood state, that you can barely feel at the min, is DOMINANT, Emotions and sensations come and go many times throughout your average day, your baseline Mood does not, your mood persists in its OVERALL control of your mind state, BECAUSE YOU LET IT. Be clear, you let it control ‘you’, your life, as this composite experience of your mind state AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT, dominates what happens ‘to you’ in that moment, so being able to change it at WILL is REALLY useful, and not actually that difficult.
When you start to see these things as ‘colouring’ everything you see, think and do, then you will start to realize that these things are NOT you AT ALL, you will start to get some distance. You will start to understand that they are part of the complex vehicle you are riding on, the little ship you are sailing in, that you ‘should’ be the captain off. Right now however ‘its’ just drifting around, and you are doing little more than look out of the back window.
Ok, so depending on who you are and whats happened so far, you are going to identify more with one particular aspect of this ship that the others, with a particular lens you experience life through, but a bit further down the road here we need to get you to the point where you understand that YOU are just ‘consciousness’ itself, ‘you the observer’, just the window of your mind itself, everything you are conscious off, can identify as separate, is NOT you, is ‘other’ than you, then you can start to command yourself in the here and now. Buts that in the future, as you will need to expand your awareness, improve your focus and able to direct the contents of your mind state at will, as that is the ‘control panel’ for the rest of you.
The only other lesser aspect of this model you need to understand is the difference between the a: real, b: the imagined/fake, and the c: memory of ‘real’ mind states, as correct identification and naming of what these things are is key. But, again, for now just focus on not REPRESSING or FAKING ANY mind state, don’t try and ‘forget’ anger, don’t try and ‘imagine’ true love or compassion, keep it real people.
So what we are going to use is to ‘remember’ a better feeling and hence emotion, and use it to influence your current mind state, much as that does not really change it, just as long as you are NOT faking it. Memory, hopefully accurate memory, can be put to VERY good use. Just remember the use of memory is a sticking plaster, a temp change that you are enforcing, and at the beginning won’t ‘take’, as it quickly passes.
Ahhh… but these are just dead words, a snap shot, pale reflection of the rotating 3D truth on the 2D screen of you mind, and therefore useless. The ‘use’ of all of this is simple – without this mind state model its very easy to get really confused when assessing yourself, about what is going on, so try and get used to it early doors, try and start to assess yourself using these terms. Its really useful for the future too, as on one important level this is a form of spiritual communication, much as its all one way, until you become sensitive enough to recognize it.
Right, to get to the point – know that through using these two core concepts, Motivation = Enthusiasm, and Feeling = Mind State, you develop the focus and energy needed to release yourself from what you have become, your persistent egoistic mood state, and move on, by whatever means necessary. To transcend, to literally rise above your current self, your tedious little ego, is the overall mechanics you are looking for here. Right now, understand your Ego is always in a ‘Mood’, and that mood dominates your experience of life. Period.
So what you actually need is a method to use said process ALL the damn time, to modify and improve your mood state in time. And given you have no direct access to either your moods or emotions, that is not straightforward, however you DO have direct access to your feelings, and that is what you are going to use… In time you will be able to both recognize and fundamentally change you mood and emotions too, but for now its best just to teach yourself to just recognize and ignore them, (what Stoicism actually is). Lets stick to the baby steps, work with your sensations first – easiest cause you have direct access to them… through your body.
So I’m going to give you the exact sensation and how to use it, the actual motivation AND the method of practice itself, all rolled into one. The process here is best described as a domino effect that is first triggered by you and then runs by itself, leading to a temporary change in your mind state. This change ‘feels’ good, and the continual use of the method will start to ‘dye’ your mind state with a deep and deeper colour of feeling until it changes your mood permanently.
All of this based on one simple feeling which you may or may not be familiar with, and that is the feeling of ‘Power Over Yourself’, the best drug in the world. You may be more familiar with power over others, over animals, indeed you may use that to feel better, however this is subtly different and far, far better.
To finish for today, in the next post I’m going to pull all of this together, and explain the Ride, now that you know what these terms mean and the context I’m using them.
Today’s little quote, a taste of the great man himself, the insane German genius he was, and his core concept, in the best quote he ever wrote (and he wrote a lot)..
‘What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man.’ – Friedrich Nietzsche