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 I'm Aimee here to introduce this next lesson of our pod So in this lesson, Henry is talking about normal everyday emotions.
This is such an essential understanding for us just to sort of understand our emotional landscape. And before I pass it to Henry for this lesson, you'll hear a note about a meditation for you that will come in the next episode. And it's another of those essential practices, I think, of just tapping into, in that meditation, how we can best care for ourselves and having that awareness.
If you're in the resilient community, you'll already find that meditation for you in your workshops area. So join us there if you haven't already. So here's Henry.
Henry: In this section, I want to address the topic of emotion, but I'm really focusing on just normal, everyday emotions. As you know, there are some emotions that we consider to be good, and we generally want more of them. And then there are other emotions we tend to view as bad or unpleasant, and we generally want less of them. I'm going to invite you, as we think about emotions, to embrace all of them.
The ones you like and the ones you don't like. Because in a very real sense, I think that emotions are the body's way of giving us important information. That it is directing us. And we can allow ourselves to be directed. That there are some things that we like and that we're drawn to, because it makes us feel a certain way, and there are other things that we sense are harmful or perhaps need to be addressed in some way. That there's something that isn't quite right and the emotion could draw our attention to that which needs to be seen and addressed if we allowed it to. So the emotions as I'm talking about it now are not just random events.
They're very much tied with thought and with the mind. I think it's just a, maybe a different form of how thought gets manifest or experienced where it's in the body in a very, very physical way. And remember right now I'm talking about kind of those normal emotions that every human being has. I'm not talking right now in this section about the really, really severe experience of depression or anxiety or something like that.
We're going to talk in the next section about what I call emotional storms, which is going to get a little closer to that. But for now, we're focusing on how can we learn, from a mindful approach to emotion, how to experience and deal with them more effectively so that they have less of a negative influence on us.
Remember the two arrows, the second arrow story, how we can do more harm to ourselves by the way we react to something? In this case, we're trying to learn not to react so much to emotion. to negative emotion. So I want to read a poem for you. This is a poem by Rumi that perhaps some of you have heard before.
It's called The Guest House, and I think this is a poem about emotion.
" This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival, a joy, a depression, a meanness. Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably.
They may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Rumi says it more beautifully than I, I can, uh, talking about how these emotions are sent from, as a guide from beyond if we allow them to be.
Now, notice that in the poem, Rumi is saying, invite them all, even the things that really we don't like, like shame or malice or meanness or, you know, or grief, things that just need to have their time in the sun, so to speak. They need to be experienced, and we need to do that through this capacity to observe and be aware of and give our attention where we want it to be.
Now, I want to talk about a very tricky aspect of the mind that most of us simply are not aware of, but it's happening behind the scenes and it's doing a lot of harm if we're not aware of it and don't do something to address it. And that is this, when you feel badly, when you have an emotion that makes you feel bad in some way, the mind automatically kicks into gear and starts looking for a reason. It's just out there scanning the environment, both outside and inside, trying to find an explanation for why I feel so badly. And I can guarantee you, it will always find it. It will always find it. The mind is, in this aspect of mind, is meant to protect us, to scan for danger, to look for something that's wrong so that we're able to keep ourselves safe.
There is a way in which the mind is biased toward the negative. It's meant to see what's wrong, but when we let that happen and just the mind runs rampant in this way, then you're going to find every little thing that's wrong with you or wrong with your life and it's going to get exaggerated.
There's a term called self derision or self aversion, which is a kind of a complex way of saying that, for many of us, especially people who have a tendency toward depression, when the mind goes looking for what's wrong, it finds it inside. It finds that there's, there's a flaw. And of course there are flaws.
We're human. We all have those flaws. It's when they get magnified and we repeat them in our minds over and over again that it really begins to be self aversion. Where, you know, a person no longer likes themselves. No longer feels worthwhile or valuable. That is a really strong predictor of depression that just keeps coming back again.
And I really want to emphasize this, that if you can learn to just kind of soften this message that your mind is giving to you. If you can learn to see that In fact, this is just being made up. It's, it's a misinterpretation of what's going on, so that you can free yourself from this and you can start feeling more accepting or better about yourself.
This will be a turning point. This is absolutely a turning point from depression to having a life of joy and having depression be something that can literally be in the rear view mirror. So we want to really learn to identify what's happening. To see it happening at, you know, at a ground level so that we can free ourselves up from this.
So emotion is giving us information, it's perhaps helping to give us some guidance. And then another aspect of it that I think is really important is that we are trying to capitalize on this concept that's really important in the Buddhist literature and that is called impermanence.
Impermanence means that nothing stays the same. Everything changes. Even if you're in a state of depression that you think has always been there and is always going to be there, I can guarantee you that it changes because everything does.
As Rilke put it, "no feeling is final." No feeling is final because everything is changing.
So what we're going to try to do in, when we do the meditation, I'll guide you through this, but what we're attempting to do with this kind of practice is to learn to have a complete experience of an emotion. I believe like the poem suggests that what these visitors are looking for is our attention. And I believe if we give them our attention and we do it fully enough, then they've done their job and they can move on. And we can learn to let them go. A really good example of this I think is grief. Every single human being experiences grief. And some of us and some cultures are much better at dealing with it than others. I think that those who do best with grief are those who really give it their full attention.
Sometimes hard to do, but giving it sufficient time, knowing it keeps coming around for a while and needing a little bit more attention again and again, but it does eventually recede. It does change, especially if it's given the attention that it needs.
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