Back in May, we discussed the idea of perception of emotions. How we have control over how we percive our emotions, situations, and circumstances. With just a simple change in thought direction, we can twist a seemingly bad scenario, into a positive one.
I came across this same idea recently while reading Going on Being, by Mark Epstein. Mark is a clinical psychiatrist, and a disciple of Buddhism. He has in many ways done what I have been doing - making connections between psychology and Eastern philosophy.
Mark was meditating on the idea of attachment. A Buddhist concept that I am still deeply digging into, to better understand. From what I have gathered so far - we all have attachments. Desires, things we cling on to. These may be money, success, praise. The Buddhist concept encourages to unattach from these attachments.
This doesn't mean getting rid of them. We can not eliminate thoughts. But rather become aware of them, so they no longer control our thoughts and actions.
"In our desire for freedom, we imagine that we have to eliminate unwanted aspects of ourselves."
"Change will happen naturally as we open to the truth. The more we bring our attachments into awareness, the freer we become, not because we eliminate the attachments, but because we learn to identify more with awareness than with desire."
This is a great concept. The idea that once aware of the impulses that control us, we do not eliminate them, but rather become aware of them, giving ourself a space that we didn't have before - a freedom. We are able to now awarely analyze and respond, rather than react.
This greatly relates to the idea we earlier discussed about our control over the perception of our emotions.
We often times search for a cause or someone to blame for our troubles, circumstances, or emotions. We look outwardly for answers. But this search for cause has to eventually come back to ourselves, because that is where the thought originated.
"Although traumatic and terrible things may have occurred, it is the individuals mind that perpetuates suffering, and that can be trained to change."
This is a hard concept to swallow, and one that I still struggle with. When you think about terrible things like rape, genocide, murder. How can we have control over those?
But the important idea there is perpetuate. To bring ourselves into a continuous loop of rumination over a thought or event. To go over and over the event and traum in our minds, building up the negative emotions beyond what they may have originally been.
If we continue to struggle again a feeling, or thought, we are still attached to it - just like being attached to money or success for our happiness. It is as if we are wrestling with the thought as a means to change or eliminate it.
"We can relieve unsatisfactoriness only by sharpening our focus and changing our perspective."
The only way to find relief from a emotion, traumatic event, or circumstance, it to commit to changing your thoughts that surround it. Break the cycle of perpetuation. And instead do not try to release the thought, emotion, or memory. But become aware of its existence, and choose to respond differently when it comes up.
Do not let ideas or emotions consume you. You can not eliminate their source. But you can choose how you respond and react to them moving forward.
"Insight meant discovering where I was attached and making it conscious, thereby giving me some meansure of choice in the matter."
Give yourself the choice, the control to change the perpetual tourture we inflict on ourselves through reliving events, and rebirthing emotions over and over again.
Heavy stuff today. But great concepts to think on. What are your thoughts?