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Become the Master of Your Moods

From: Jay
Sent on: Thursday, October 4, 2012 10:34 PM
Dear friends,
I just finished teaching 3 days in Wasilla. A local school teacher who came to the workshop invited me to talk to 4 of her classes. About 100 high school students attended and they had great questions. It is surreal to find myself in Wasilla talking about meditation to bunch of enthusiastic kids. Pictures are on Facebook.

Next, I'll be doing two workshops for residents at University of Alaska. The tour of the 'Last Frontier' ends on Sunday when I return to San Francisco.

Enjoy the reading!
J.

Being the Master of Your Moods

A prevailing mood is like a weather front. It can hit the lands of your consciousness in gentle waves or descend like a grey mist or arrive as full blown storm. These waves are made of emotion, sometimes one emotion, sometimes a mix of many.  Emotional turmoil is the price we pay today for our attachments yesterday. For example – if you lost someone or something important to you in the past, you would have created sadness.  You would then repeat your sadness every time you remembered your apparent loss.  Eventually you may become so familiar with your sadness that you become comfortable with being somewhat sad and sorrowful, perhaps even creating a subtle identity, “I am sad/sorrowful person”.  This pattern records itself in your subconscious, waiting for a trigger event to invite it back into your conscious awareness. Long after the memory of your loss has faded, this may become a ‘prevailing mood’ that moves through you and you don’t know why. 

This is why we often feel that we are at the mercy of our moods and it seems our emotions have become our masters. It’s only when we learn to become fully aware of our emotions, and consciously withdraw our energy from them, that we can restore our self-mastery i.e. the mastery of our feelings.

Here are some things you can do/practice to become the master of your state of consciousness…again:

1  Practice Meditation

The practice of meditation begins with the temporary withdrawal of your attention from the world around you.  Then the withdrawal or ‘detachment’ from the thoughts you are thinking and the emotion/s you are feeling.  Then simply ‘observing’ the emotion/s that you are feeling.  All emotion dies under observation.  If it doesn’t, it means you are still attached to the emotion and probably even identifying with the emotion and thereby giving it life, so the mood will prevail.

Ultimately the practice of meditation will help you to create a quiet, strong and stable mind.  It will gradually become easier to be in a state of stillness within your consciousness.  This then allows you to watch and see the precise source/cause/reason for the moods when they do arise. If you prefer not to be a regular meditator here are some other strategies to play with.

2  Disidentify with your feelings

Don't identify with the emotions that you are feeling. That means don't say to your self, "Here we go again, it’s my same old trip. I am a worrier, I am depressed, I am frustrated". No you're not. Say instead, "There is worry in here, or there is depression in here, but I am not the worry, I am not the depression". Any emotion that you feel simply comes to pass!  And like clouds move across the sky 'these too will pass'.  And they always do…eventually!

The more you engage the emotion, which also means the more you resist the emotion as a feeling that you do not want, the stronger it will become.

The more we identify with our emotional states the more we expect them to come.  We expect to feel them. And if you expect them, they will come. If you have experienced depression for some time it means you have made depression a deep habit. It’s usually the accumulation of many moments of sadness over time.  Perhaps you have been prescribed some form of temporary medication to kick start the chemicals in the brain.  This may alleviate the mood (for some it seems to strengthen it) but it won’t give you the power to change the thinking patterns that originally created and sustained the mood in the first place.  These thought patterns come from a deeper place within your consciousness.  Sometimes, if the habit of depression is deeply embedded, a balance of medication and meditation is more effective.  Once the meditation restores your ability to control both the quantity and quality of your thinking the medication can be lessened and gradually eliminated.

3  Face Your Emotions

Resist the temptation to consume something to alleviate the emotional discomfort. As a form of escape many people seek some sensual stimulation like music or movies, or certain ‘substances’, while others overwork in order to avoid the subtle discomfort of their self-created unpleasant moods. Or they become needy of others for the drugs of approval and reassurance. If there is already a close relationship with someone i.e. a history of subtle dependency, we might seek relief in that relationship perhaps without realising it is our relationship with that person that is triggering the emotional waves in the first place. The solution here is to face up to the emotions, fully acknowledge them, learn to recognize them, name them.

Gradually you will begin to see and know their cause and naturally learn to disempower them. This does however require some regular time in reflection and contemplation as you cultivate self awareness, which really means ‘emotion awareness’.  Unfortunately it seems most people won’t do this until the emotions become so intense, so powerful, they are forced to.  That’s why ‘too busy’, the mantra of our modern age, is more often code for, “I don’t really want to see and understand why I am feeling like this.  It may mean I will have admit something and change something”. 

4  Diminish Your Desires

Any dependency will show up in your desires.  Watch your desires.  Notice how you already have what you desire.  Where?  On the screen of your mind!  Notice that when your mental desire does not show up in physical reality that is when you ‘create’ a sense of loss.  Notice the sadness, however momentary, that you generate.  When you notice this pattern throughout your life you may begin to understand why there seems to be a prevailing sadness in the background of your every-day life, like a permanent mist across the mountains.  That is why, for some, the ‘moody blues’ seem to be there all the time.  There is only one solution.  Want not.  That in itself is not easy after a lifetime of learning and practicing  the opposite.  ‘Realising’ that you don’t actually need the object of your desire to be happy…helps!

5  Focus Your Energy

The ‘moody blues’ can also come because there is space for them to enter. It is highly likely we are inviting them by thinking too much, especially about the past. This is often a sign that we have too much time without any particular focus. This is the other side of the ‘too busy’ coin.  Don’t get busy but get focused on something with a ‘giving’ intention.  Focus time and energy in helping or serving others in some way, so there is less space for the negative thoughts to arise and trigger the moods.  But don’t use it as an escape.  Doing something worthwhile can easily shake you out of your mood. Create something beautiful for someone - however modest - a meal, a gift an evening gathering of friends.  But don’t want/expect anything in return.  As you focus your creative energy in this way your mood and any prevailing blues are more likely to atrophy and you will become more aware of exactly what you are feeling.  At some point you will reawaken the realisation that you can choose your feelings.  Careful not to go too far and be a ‘do-gooder’ as that is often just another way of avoiding or compensating for what is happening within our own consciousness.

6  End All Comparison

Another almost iron clad guaranteed way of creating sorrow for our self is when we compare our self with others.  In such moments we forget our uniqueness and create the habit of putting our self down.  This loss of self-esteem and self-worth is still a loss, it’s just a little more subtle.  And sadness always follows loss.  Then the temptation is to want to become like someone else, which is impossible, thereby generating the emotion of frustration.  So it’s probably a good idea to give up the gossip columns and the mags filled with the lives of others.  At least until you restore your own star to the firmament of your own consciousness! 

7  Forgive by Forgeting

Forget the past, it’s dead and gone.  And that includes yesterday.  If we wallow in the sentiment that accompanies nostalgia for good times past, we miss living joyfully today.  The past has no value once any lessons have been learned.  And if you take a moment to notice, you may see that the origins of all feelings of sorrow or hurt lie in the past.  Every time you remember them you simply hurt yourself again.  Forget and move on.  Practice this every day, many times a day if necessary.  As you learn to ‘let go’ and weaken the habit of energising memories of the past, any emotional turmoil will subside and allow you to live much more in the moment.   It’s where YOU always are anyway.  It’s just that we all seem to forget to ‘be’ where we always are!

Question:  What usually triggers the moody blues for you and why do you think that is?

Reflection:  Emotion is the price you pay today for your attachments yesterday – contemplate and see if you can see the connection between your attachments and your sadnesses

Action:  Give yourself at least 15 minutes of quiet and ‘reflective’ time every day during the next ten days, and give ‘practice’ time to just observing, watching, naming the emotions  that you feel

© Mike George 2010 

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