Our feelings, or emotions, distinct from body sensations, are an arbiter of our health. They are a guidance system that can help us find ease, effortlessness and aliveness in our lives in any moment. A guidance system? How so?
This is where I left off and where I begin in this 2nd segment of a 3-part series.
Our emotions are powerful tools that not all of us recognize as such, but more and more of us are discovering their power everyday. As I recognized in my last post, the leaders, philosophers, and facilitators of self-development today have already and are continuing to recognize that our greatest sense of the Flow of Life, our recognition of being in sync with the flow of all of life, our ability to simply be and let go of all else that gets in the way of that being… begins with our emotions.
We can use them as a guide to be true to all of who we are and in sync with who we are becoming as we grow and expand in our consciousness and in our lives.
We may rationalize with logic. We may deduce with reason. We may think and figure things out. We do all of this, and it is fine. This is how our brains have developed and evolved over time, as we desire to be more, and field more in our lives. And… our emotions are a solid foundation upon which we can always rely to be of use to us. We can use both. We don’t have to be limited to an “either/or” assessment of this phenomenal machine called a brain.
Take that back a step… Funny, huh? We rarely think of our emotions as “solid” or “dependable.”
We have a society that defines being emotional as “weak.” But wait… We also have a society and a world that defines being passionate as “strength.” So which do you take for truth? Both words, if you look them up in the dictionary, are defined using the word “emotion.” Yet, these two words and the valuations and meanings placed upon them far beyond their dictionary meanings are at opposing ends of the spectrum.
Well, I, for one, believe in taking the meaning that empowers you. After all, we added the meaning. It wasn’t there when we began as a species. And truth be it, there are, all over this world, conflicting definitions, conflicting ideas, conflicting opinions, ideals, values and, even, conflicting logics. That is what it is to be human. That is our human condition. The only thing that we can really do to bring us peace of mind is surrender to that this very human condition exists, and know that we are not the human condition. We are the human beings “being” in the human condition. The two are not synonymous.
Since we’re distinguishing between what things are and what things are not, let’s also be clear that…
Emotions are just emotions. Most of us call them “feelings.” (And the 70’s song begins to play…) And they are, for most of us, as they cause body sensations that either appeal to us or make us feel bad and want to resist. But to be crystal clear, emotions are not body sensations. They cause body sensations, and they are not body sensations. They are also not moods or attitudes. Those have to do with thoughts, logic and reasoning. Emotions are caused by thoughts, but they are not thoughts.
So here’s the skinny… Thoughts cause emotions. Emotions cause us to take action, even if the action is as small as winking our eye. Actions produce results in our visible world. And the cycle begins all over again.
This cycle is what we call human experience. We have a lot of ideas about what emotions constitute, or what they are constituted of, but I’m going to keep to broad strokes so we can see how all the pieces fit together. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest behind.
Emotions are both positive and negative, and herein lies the beginning of my description of our guidance system. As we begin here, let’s remember that positive and negative have equal standing in their value to the overall system, like in mathematics. In math, we need both positive and negative numbers equally. So while negative emotions are often unwelcomed and for the most part, in this world, avoided, they have equal standing in their value to us.
Okay, so now I’m just going to state what I mean by Emotional Guidance System, and then we’ll work back from there to see how it can work for you. Here it is…
Positive emotions let us know we are being true to who we are. Negative emotions let us know that there is a divide that’s been created through thought, and that we are no longer identifying as who we truly are. It’s kind of like “there’s been a breech in the system,” from some sci-fi movie, Star Trek comes to mind. And when there’s been a breech in the system, we begin to feel bad as way our spirit, mind and body have of telling us, “Come back. Come back to you.”
Now, let’s bring in a different focus so that maybe we can make some easy connections between the world the way we know it and what I just presented as your Emotional Guidance System.
Our brains are “outfitted” with a particular area called the Hypothalamus that plays the greatest role in homeostasis of our bodies. Homeostasis is the ability of an animal to regulate the internal environment of its body. Stay with me. I promise I’m going somewhere good. Your hypothalamus is responsible for such things as your sleep and wake cycles, your eating and drinking, and so on. Now, think about it. Homeostasis is a form of returning the body back to zero. Not “zero” as in nothing, but like where zero is on a scale of both positive and negative numbers – somewhere in the middle. You’re hungry, you eat. You’re tired, you sleep. You’ve slept enough, you wake. Homeostasis is a regulation of the body back to “normal,” so that your body can function properly. Don’t get enough rest, suffer in some way. Don’t get enough to eat, suffer in some way. Eat too much, suffer in some way. Homeostasis represents that middle ground where “all is well,” if you will.
What if there is a homeostasis for our being-ness? Our being-ness which is the essence of our existence as opposed to our physical body as described above. What if our middle setting, our “all is well” setting is joy?
What if our natural state is joy, and then everything we do is either to remain in sync with that, or get out of sync with it either purposefully or unintentionally?
I mean, think about it. We’re all seeking happiness constantly. We often seek it in numerous ways outside of ourselves, but the only place we can experience it is… Within. We experience happiness within us. Within our being-ness. And it produces body sensation of all kinds that could be called, good feelings.
In my perspective, our natural state is absolutely joy. We seek happiness, but it is already with us. It is as us. We often look to babies for empirical evidence of this, as it is most natural for babies to laugh, smile, coo or be loving – which we perceive as an expression of joy. If they are sad, or frustrated, or pained, or mad, it is never for long as they ultimately return again and again, without fail, to their natural state.
At some point, they do begin to learn to forgo their nature for other experiences, and as they do, they grow up and become us. We are those babies, and we have multitudes of human experiences to show us a vast variety of ways to be. But where did we begin? And what is still true, though we rationalize, deduce, and continue to decide to figure out that it may not be? May not be true, that is.
For a multitude of reasons, too great to name all of them here, we “stray” from our “all is well” setting of joy. However, there is never not a way to come back. Double negative get your attention. Ha! That’s right. I’ve got tricks.
There is always, always, always, always, always a way to come back to your innate health, to your innate joy, to your innate self that is who you truly are. Using your positive and negative emotions to register where you are and to find your way back. Is this productive? Absolutely it is. Is it easy for everyone? No, it is not. Can it be done? Always. Does it take practice? Like a mamma-jamma. (Pronounced maamma-jaamma.)
Practice is what makes this process of using our emotions as a guidance system a failsafe way of navigating our Joy… and our Depression. Look. Life gets real. We have a vast range of emotions. Some of us will use every last one of them before we’re done with this life, or at least, feel like we have. And some of us like to stay in a more moderate range, and keep to a minimum that’s comfortable. We’ve got choice in the matter, even when we feel like that’s a big fat lie. And one choice is not better, or worse. Just yours, mine, his, hers, and theirs. We can find our way to being in our joy. We can find our way to ease. It may take some effort. It may take a lot of effort. It may take reaching out for help that makes us feel embarrassed or humiliated. It may take… a mountain to be moved. And even in this journey, there is our emotional guidance system to tell us if we’re being true to what we’re really capable of, or… lapsing into error judgment of ourselves and what we’re really capable of.
Practice in utilizing our emotional guidance system brings a depth of understanding that a “once-over” can’t even tap. So begin to explore your emotions. Begin with a practice of simply noticing them, if you’re a beginner at emotions. Simply noticing and observing yourself will create an awareness of yourself as you’ve never experienced before. Even experts can begin with this simple practice – it constitutes a great deal of a master’s practice anyway.
As you observe how your emotions swell and ebb, you can begin to notice that they never last for long. Observation allows you to remain neutral. Remaining neutral allows your emotions to have their life, but not have you. Yes, emotions can seem like they run you, but they don’t really. You run them. (Beyoncé just sang to me, “Who runs the world?”) When your emotions seem to last forever, it is because you are in there suppressing, avoiding, ignoring, trying to get rid of, or just plain resisting them. We are the force that causes our feelings to seem like they live on for a lifetime. And sometimes, when we think they’re gone, we’re actually just numb to them. They’re still there, because we didn’t let them “run their course.”
So observing them allows you to begin to see that they will run a course and completely dissipate. Once you begin to see this, you can begin to evolve your practice and practice allowing your emotions to have their moment, and not you. This is a lifetime practice. Don’t think it’s a practice you’ll undertake like an online educational course and someday it’ll be done and you’ll graduate, or get a certificate. This is for life, baby.
And it’s well worth it. ‘Cause your joy and its sustenance are worth it all, baby.
You are worth it, and you are worth the conscious rewards you will reap as you begin to see the folly of our human condition, and begin to transcend the ardor of it.
You are worth it, and the wonder with which you will begin to see all of what we do when we think we are being run by emotions, because you will know that the emotion is not the one in charge.
You are worth it, as you begin to enjoy life at a depth that now astounds you.
All of this as you allow your emotions to be your guide. As you allow your heart to be your guide. As you allow your highest self to be your guide. As you allow your best self to continually unfold with effortlessness and ease. Wow! You are really cool. 😉
by Monique McIntyre, Guide. Facilitator. Public Speaker. (And blogger) @