How do you transform the relationship you have with your emotions? I recommend several different techniques and the rationale behind them. I will be succinct and straight forward in my recommendations, all of which fall into the category of “Mind Training” or “Lojong”. Mind training originates from the Eastern practices and wisdoms that are more than 2600 years-old, and which have been commercialized in Western psychology and coined Mindfulness.
First, stop labeling your emotions as negative or positive. They are neither good nor bad. They simply just are.
Second, become aware of your emotional reactions without identifying with them. Emotions do not define you. So, drop the “I am depressed” as this is false identification. Rather, “I feel temporarily depressed” or “I feel depressed at this moment”. * *The key is to be aware that emotions are impermanent. They do not last, unless you choose to identify with them. It is human to have emotions, so embrace them, but do not identify with them.
Third, notice how changeable and impermanent your moods and feelings are over a particular time frame. For example, in one moment you feel calm and relaxed, in the next you may feel agitated or angry.
Fourth, notice the energy stream of your mind changing from moment to moment. Watch how your thoughts move from the past to the future, from here to somewhere or nowhere at all, within a matter of moments, sometimes nanoseconds . Very rarely does your mind stay in the present moment, unless you have been practicing “mind training” to keep it present in the NOW.
Fifth, after you practice watching your mind, witnessing your thoughts; you begin to notice that most often your emotions arise as a reaction to certain thoughts. For example, thoughts about a situation, thoughts about a person, including thoughts about yourself. I will call that the “Talking Head” or the “Voice in the Head” of mind stream narratives.
Sixth, other times, emotions appear to rise for no apparent reason at all. For example, you might be sitting on a cushion in a quiet room, with no one around, and suddenly feel anxious or sad. One way we ordinarily react to this kind of emotional energy is to look for an external cause—for something, or someone to blame.
Seventh, break the habit of linking your emotions / feelings and your reactions to outside causes and take responsibility for own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and state of being. You are not a puppet. So, learn and practice to self-regulate.
Eighth, instead of looking for an external cause or someone to blame for how you feel, notice instead how programmed you have become to certain types of emotions and reactions. Notice also how deep your beliefs and emotional habits are engrained.
Ninth, As you begin to observe that you have certain dominant emotional and behavioral reactions and are prone to certain kinds of feelings, you begin to identify less with them.
How do you learn to identify less with them? Recognize the impermanence of all phenomena. Practice Mind Training or Mindfulness. The more you are consciously aware of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, then, you can relax more and find more equanimity and be more present in the moment.
All the masters of the Eastern traditions have shown us that equanimity or calm abiding derives from “mind training” or Lojong.
All of the scientific studies booming in the Western psychology and medicine demonstrate the benefits of mind training and have commercialized it as “mindfulness”. Check out some of my other blogs on the scientific findings: http://spacioustherapy.com/brain-changes-improves-mindfulness-interventions-meditation/ And http://spacioustherapy.com/your-monkey-mind-meditation-guidelines/
Further, when we are present with acceptance to ourselves, and people and circumstances around us. Then, we feel relaxed, centered, comfortable, and confident in ourselves. We no longer need to misinterpret unwanted circumstances as attacks on us.
We can simply observe the interplay of events, people, and circumstances around us and feel free to make the choices that suit us best. This is a step on the path to freedom. Freedom is embracing our emotions as impermanent and changing. Freedom is making choices to feel any emotion that you choose, think any thought you want. It just requires Mind training and mindfulness.
We suffer because we continually choose to identify with and focus on how we feel. But identifying with our emotions is like throwing fuel on a fire. For example, if we choose to identify with our anger, it will burn even hotter and take longer to die down. The same is true of other emotions, such as, anxiety, jealousy, or arrogance.
Please read my scholarly articles on Understanding Emotions. In this article, you will find in-depth understanding of emotions and more information on Mindfulness.