Every day we encounter a wide range of emotions that trap us and cause us problems. however, we can transform them and make them a source of growth and wisdom if we know how to understand them.
From Contemplative Psychotherapy, we approach the emotional world using resources validated by introspection and observation of the mind. Currently, these resources are corroborated by Western science through the study of the brain during the practice of meditation.
Two principles of emotional health
Buddhist psychology provides us with two interesting factors to consider in our therapeutic practice, because learn to manage and free oneself from disturbing emotions or kleshas: letting go of attachment to oneself and knowing that emotions are empty in their essence.
Let go of clinging to yourself
The Sanskrit word klesha, defines the emotions that generate restlessness, discomfort or disturbance. They cause us to have a mental state that causes us to adopt behaviors that can harm others or ourselves.
These emotions are rooted in the idea of a fixed or solid self which cannot change and which perceives itself as if it is separate from others. “I get angry because you make me angry …”.
however, the reality is that the idea of the self is a conceptual thing. What does it mean? Our life is made up of a sequence of moments of consciousness that we accumulate in our mental continuum and create our experience. If we analyze this in depth, who is our ego? The one from a year ago, two, ten …? My self as a child, adolescent, adult …? We cannot find a fixed self.
If our emotions are changing, our thoughts are flowing, and our sensations are constantly arising and fading, it means that all the processes that manifest in us are impermanent. Therefore, I cannot keep anyone static.
This gives us a great opportunity for change: we can transform whatever pops into our mind if we don’t associate it with the idea of a fixed, unchanging self. Letting go of this misconception of a strong self leads us to release the emotions that trap us over and over again. If there’s no me clinging to them emotions will manifest and dissolve on their own without causing a sequence of actions chained to others and causing suffering.
Emotions are empty in their essence
Emotions are an energy that arises, usually caused by a thought and associated with a physical sensation.
This energy develops, takes a course and then disappears naturally. It is a manifestation of our spirit, it flows from it and it dissolves. If we have an emotion and hang on to it, feeding it with thoughts of the past or encouraging future projections, the emotion can solidify or intensify. If we look deeply at their root, we will find that they are in fact not substantial. Where are? They’re in our mind, but they’re not our mind. Because if they were our mind, they would be something fixed and unchanging, and it doesn’t work that way.
They are empty in essence because they were formed by a series of causes and conditions which favored them and when these causes and conditions disappear, the emotion naturally dissolves. They do not exist independently.
In order for anger or pride to arise, something has to happen that has caused that emotion in us. And also in each of us different manifestations of emotions appear and are caused by different causes. Which brings us to the conclusion that in themselves, they have no entity, but depend on concrete situations and experiences. This vision also gives us another great opportunity to learn how to manage them.
How can we transform our emotions?
By not being something rigid or solid, we can dissolve them and transform emotions. Like the alchemists who turn lead into gold. Disturbing emotions give us the opportunity to transform them into great qualities.
Let’s see what other aspects we need to take into account to transform them.
1. Pay attention
This is the first step: to have an attitude of introspection and observation to promote self-knowledge. If we are not aware of what is causing us a disturbing emotion or if we do not even recognize it, we will hardly be able to transform it..
It is important to maintain an honest and courageous attitude to unmask the emotions that appear in our mind. Many times we refuse them or hide them. Sometimes because we are not even aware and sometimes because we are ashamed to know that we feel jealous or jealous. The reality is that we all have seeds of disturbing emotions in our minds (pride, jealousy, anger, ignorance, greed, inclination …). Some manifest more easily and others are hidden until it is time to manifest..
Being consciously aware and observing yourself is very important if you want to free yourself from and transform your consequences.
2. The unidentified witness
It is important to pay full attention to an unidentified observer.
What does mean? We know that as human beings we can be aware of ourselves and that the mind has the quality of observing itself. This ability helps us to be able to observe our mental processes and emotions from a new perspective: Why do they occur, what were the causes and conditions that caused the emotion, how they affect us, how they manifest in our behavior, what are their consequences and how we can transform them.
If through mindfulness and mindfulness or meditation we become aware of how emotions arise in our mind, without identifying with them, we will see more and more clearly that emotions are not our. mind.
We will observe a consciousness in which the experience of emotions is manifested. By dissolving the ego, we will realize that they have no power over us. This process can also be followed in a therapeutic process if the professional knows this spiritual path of personal development.
Training for unidentified testimony in a resource that will help us create a space of awareness in our experience. We deidentify ourselves in such a way that we do not feel trapped by emotion. We observe it, experience it and let it go.
Just as we have explored the quality of emptiness of emotions, we need to be aware of their impermanence. Emotions arise and fade in the mind, but are not part of the inherent nature of the mind.. They are transient.
This quality is extremely important because it gives us the freedom to know that they don’t want to stay with us. We don’t need to keep them. Plus, we have the ability to decide what to do with them, solidify them or let them go.
We all feel angry at some point, but it’s up to us to decide if we return the anger and fall victim to their plans by throwing it at someone; or we express it without harming anything or anyone and letting it go. If we carefully observe the insubstantiality of an emotion and its transience, we will have taken an important step in managing it without causing harm..
4. Causes and conditions
We have named that emotions come from causes and conditions and I will go into them in more detail. For example, for anger to arise, they have to go through a situation that causes that emotion in us. This already shows us that people do not cause emotions, but rather situations that are generated between people. And these situations depend a lot on everyone.
A glance on one can be threatening and another indifferent. It depends on what we are projecting on it. There are situations that we naturally accept at one time of the day and at another that produces reactivity or discomfort. What does it mean? It depends on us how we deal with emotions.
Just as the causes and conditions are created for the kleshas to emerge, we can promote causes and conditions to foster positive emotions neutralize disruptors or promote them in our environment and our mind.
One of the important antidotes we can mobilize is to create positive habits. If we promote our qualities and put them at the service of our kleshas, we will create new positive trends which will know how to balance the disturbing trends.
As we unmask the emotions that create discomfort and generate antidotes to counter it, they will gradually lose intensity and frequency and gradually disappear.
This is why it is very important to train in mindfulness, To realize it and remedy it immediately, avoiding getting carried away by the uncontrolled consequences of conflicting emotions.
It is curious how many times the antidote is found in the same poison. It occurs in vaccines or other everyday items (soap is made with oil …). The same thing happens on the spiritual path. From suffering comes wisdom.
If a person tears us away, we can make them our master of patience and seize the opportunity to cultivate this quality. Any situation that creates discomfort can lead to a great opportunity for growth if we know how to use the right antidote.
For example, pride can train us to be more righteous and humble, anger can connect us with love and compassion, envy with the joy of the good of others …
It is appropriate for everyone to discover by being honest and courageous which are these emotions which most often destabilize them. Observe them, analyze them and find their own antidotes to gradually transform them into qualities and wisdom.
The emotions that trap us are a source of growth and wisdom if we know how to transform and manage them. for that we must commit to maintaining a full and conscious attention to how they manifest themselves and the consequences they have on us and on others.
Knowing its nature and letting go of our attachment to an idea of self, we can move forward on our path of self-realization.