Welcome to Joy Lab!: Welcome to the Joy Lab podcast, where we help you uncover and foster your most joyful self. Your hosts, Dr. Henry Emmons and Dr. Aimee Prasek, bring you the ideal mix of soulful and scientifically sound tools to spark your joy, even when it feels dark. When you're ready to experiment with more joy, combine this podcast with the full Joy Lab program over at JoyLab.coach
aimee: Welcome to Joy Lab. So Aimee here. I am here to introduce this next lesson of our podcourse. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can head to the show notes, scroll down a bit, the podcourse page. You can find all the episodes for this entire podcourse series right there on that page.
So in this lesson, Henry's really diving into the trickiness of our minds. How convincing our thoughts can be. Henry will touch on this and then we'll transition us into emotions where we'll spend some time in the next several episodes. We'll also have some meditations available for you.
Same format that we've done in the last couple where there's a lesson and then the next episode will be a meditation. So, I'll pass it to Henry
Henry: I want to give you an example of how the mind, how tricky it is, and how the mind works to find what's wrong. This is a personal example. It's a little bit embarrassing, but I'm going to go with it anyway. So, some years ago, my family and I were living in a older house in Minneapolis and it was, uh, when we bought it, it was a beautiful home with really nice woodwork finish and kind of an older craftsman style home near the river. Really nice neighborhood.
Uh, and we'd been there for about five years and we had young children at the time. And I was practicing my meditation. I was actually sitting down in front of a window in April, as I recall, that's important because April is a month that I traditionally would have a hard time. My mood would drop in April for lots of reasons.
Seasonal is one of them. But I wasn't really aware of that. And I was doing my meditation and probably feeling a little distracted. So I opened my eyes and look out the window and about 15 feet from our house is the next house. Didn't have much space between them. And that house needed a good painting, paint job.
And then I started looking a little further and I could see all these power lines. And then a old building that was kind of run down and needed to be torn down. And, and I just kept seeing all of these things that were wrong in my mind. And I was so, uh, inspired by this, I got off my cushion, stopped my meditation, went to get my wife, and started pointing out to her all the things that were wrong with our neighborhood, our house, the, you know, the whole aspect of our lives. And this thought that started in just a moment's time grew so big and so powerful that by September, of that year, we had sold this house, had moved to another town, buying a house that ended up being much less, lesser house than the one we had sold.
And you can kind of see where this goes. Now I learned from that. I learned a lot from that. So it's not that the story has a bad ending. But it created a lot of unnecessary turmoil, unnecessary suffering. A lot of things that I could have avoided if I had been more aware of my own internal state and how the mind just starts searching for things that are wrong and then how we tend to go with them.
And what we're wanting to do is simply to develop the capacity to see ourselves as thinkers. To realize that much of what we are creating throughout the day that we believe to be true, is just something the mind is making up.
It is only a thought. It only has power over us if we give it that power. Most of the time we do so not intentionally, but just because we're unaware. We don't realize that we're thinking and that we are creating this experience with our own thoughts. So in this kind of practice, we're really trying to be able to realize that in a very real way, we are the creators of our own experience and our own emotional reactions to what happens.
We generate emotions just like we generate thoughts. For the most part, unconsciously, they just arise out of somewhere that I can't explain to you. And if, you don't attach to them, then they will just recede into somewhere that I can't explain to you. It's just the nature of the mind. It is constantly producing thoughts and producing emotions that mean little to nothing unless we give them meaning.
And very often we're doing that without meaning to and doing it in such a way that it it makes things harder for us. So we're going to spend some time really with the emotional side of this. Emotions are just another version of thoughts, in a sense. And we'll spend a little time talking about, in the next section, how you can work with those emotions, both what you consider to be positive ones and negative ones, in a way that can enrich your life and free you up from some of those unhelpful pathways that you might have created.
I want to give you an example of how much good it can do to have a complete experience of an emotion. You might remember the college student that I referred to in an earlier section who became just suddenly very depressed because her dorm mates went to dinner without her. And that created this cascade of thoughts and, and then a cascade of emotions.
So when she did come in to see me and when we realized that this is what triggered this, I suggested that she take a little time to really feel the emotions that she was feeling deeply. And what came out for her was that yes, this being rejected or feeling, feeling rejected by her friends was a big thing for her.
The really big thing in her mind was that her mother had been depressed for decades and then she wasn't doing well. She was not responding well to treatments. And this young woman was afraid that that was going to be her future. And it was this, this fear and really this sense of grief that her mother was not able to be there for her in the way that she would have liked. That's what really lay at the bottom of this. And so I suggested that she take some time to just to be with that. That thought and that feeling.
And so she did that and she followed my suggestions and she actually took about half hour or 45 minutes that she knew she was not going to be interrupted, she did a meditation much like the one that you can do that's offered here. And then I suggested she have a diary or journal that she could turn to to write if she felt inspired to do that. And so she did that. And she first sat with the emotion. Let it be there. Let it arise. And let it be strong. And then she took some time to write everything that she could think to say about that particular feeling.
And then she went back to the meditation for a bit. And I would encourage you to do that. If there's something that seems to have a really strong hold on you, an emotion that you just can't seem to let flow on through, if you want to keep working with it and keep allowing it to draw you deeper to the point that you can really completely experience it so that it can move on and move out from your life.
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