In this article, I’m going to share two powerful, little-known Eastern techniques to help you amplify emotional highs and keep warm when you’re feeling blue.
But first, a little history:
Conventional wisdom says that emotions fall into the categories anger, sadness, surprise, disgust, joy, and fear, but this is not the only way or even the best way to think about feelings.
Emotions do not arise in isolation and without context. We feel things in relation to other things. We feel pleasure in relation to a nice meal or great conversation. We feel sadness in relation to hearing sad news. We also feel things in relation to feelings.
Emotions self-perpetuate: when we feel great, we feel great that we feel great; when we feel sad, we feel sad that we feel sad.
In order to make sense of this emotional cobweb, 2,000 years ago an incomparably wise Indian man called Siddhartha Gautama — his friends called him Buddha — came up with two helpful ways to think about our relationship with feelings:
Touch a flame, and what follows is aversion. Unless you have a fondness for masochism — no judgment here — you will avoid the sensation of pain. But not just physical pain, egoic pain too. The Buddhist monk Geshe Tashi Tsering elaborates:
“Aversion refers to pushing away things that harm our sense of permanence…” [It is] an exaggeration of an object that arises from the fundamental ignorance of the way self and things exist. … Because the object harms the self’s notion of permanence, the mind exaggerates its negative qualities. … This mind of aversion can range from very gross to very subtle…