There are various dimensions of self. In a simple explanation, we all think and feel in diverse yet similar ways — either going through extremes or in a more stable fashion.
Emotions are triggered by thoughts, and thoughts by emotions. When we feel we need to name those emotions in our minds, and hence language influences the course of thought and response towards the emotion in a short period of time. From this process, new patterns of being arise, creating what we call spiritual growth, personal development, self-actualization, self-realization and so forth.
In order to find authenticity of self, without the survival mechanisms of the ego in the way, a way of simply being, we need to stop looking for the singularity of emotion, and start noticing the spectrum in which emotions operate. Become their observer, and notice how humanity is tied together in such conditions of emotion, thought and response.
Homeostasis functions this way, creating interaction between the Self, the Other and the Environment. The true making of cultures, as explained by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio in his book “The Strange Order of Things”.
To be an observer of the spectrum of emotions, we borrow from meditation and mindfulness the pattern of being non-judgemental about what arises in the self, and the confluence of the survival mechanisms from the ego that move some deeply rooted behaviors. As an example, how to respond to anger? When someone is yelling, we either yell back or stand in silence, or fight, or go to another room, sometimes slamming the door behind us. These reactions are engrained in us as solutions to the simple problem of threat. Buddhist schools teach non-judgmental compassion facing another’s pain, and anger does come from pain, misunderstandings and confusion.
Accepting the spectrum of emotions, does not mean to stand idle when facing our own darkness and say “Oh, I am this way and I just have to accept myself”. Acceptance does not mean compliance. Acceptance means realizing what belongs where, for what reason, with what purpose, and questioning whether it needs changing or cultivating more of it. This is the path of least suffering, and like any path relating suffering, we often need to suffer a lot in order to understand it. The Buddhists call it Dukka.
Like any path, it confuses us, we can get a little lost, and we then seek guidance from mentors, gurus, articles, YouTube videos, mediums and astrologers, and so forth… When in fact the answer always lies in being the observant.
There is a little exercise I practice in meditation, where I send an imaginary turtle to find me the anwers of the questions that fill my mind when entering the meditative space inside. This turtle often comes back later with ideas, new thoughts, new dimensions of emotion. It’s an interesting exercise because it helps develop not only the imagination, as patience and being more observant.
It seems simple to speak of things in these terms, but it’s a practice that takes time, effort and, again, lots of patience for ourselves. Observing how we get angry with ourselves for being imperfect, how the hindrances we take on life as obstacles to face sometimes are just a way of our own selves to protect us from what can bring us instability.
If anyone has told you an awakening of sorts, often spoken about it being spiritual, is glitter and scented roses, they were lying. It’s a heartbreaking, sweat dwelling, teeth grinding, anxiety propulsor, solution-finding-obsession, path of life. But when the fruits of this labor start to bear, it’s impossible to go back to our previous way of reaction.
A pause to think and observe ourselves, often is the most rewarding experience someone can ever have.