If you look deep into your emotions, you’ll see they are made of nothing
very time you meet someone new, there’s an opportunity to learn something. I particularly like to notice how we react differently to different people. We talk to people we know and people we don’t, and in every person there is a thinking mind and a story line behind their eyes. Sometimes we become aware other people are tripping with a story line but others times we think as the story line being the actual reality. Everyone is a factory of thoughts whether you want it or not – that is the mind’s job after all.
Its refreshing to know that these stories are just thinking and therefore highly volatile and changeable. We get involved with our emotions and other people’s emotions. We make determinations weather we like a certain person or we don’t. We are like mirrors of each other and at the same time we think we are the only ones thinking the things we often think. Every thing appears to be so real but isn’t.
The reality is that nothing is in a fixed position. None of the emotions and perceptions we have of each other are permanent or have any ultimate validity. They might be real emotions but don’t posses a absolute truthfulness. They are only momentary and circumstantial states of mind, and like the wind they blow in every direction – constantly.
However our habitual pattern is to look at them as if they are rigid, stationary and unchanging. This is our natural tendency and unless we can look at them differently, they produce the script for what we call reality. Just by thinking that these emotions are not solid is enough to initiate a process of change – when things begin to get a little more spacious and change is possible.
The mind can change like magic. I don’t know exactly how to achieve that but I’ve seen it happen with me and with others. If we could change our mind we could eliminate so much unnecessary suffering. We are prone to mind changes all the time weather we want it or not, but they are usually random. People we ounce perceived being boring become interesting and people we were in love with might no longer be our friends tomorrow – everything falls apart and new things come to replace older ones. We are in a ocean of change and there is little we can do about it. The only thing preventing our mind to be more open is our determination to keep everything the same. Its interesting when we see the mind adapting and changing events rather then seeing suffering caused by our mind fixation.
I remember an interesting event long time ago in my mental health clinical rotation. This was an acute care high security mental health facility in the South Bay. I met this severely schizophrenic patient I will never forget. This guy was one the scariest individuals I’ve ever came across. He looked possessed by scary demons, just like Théoden, one of the kings in Lord of the Rings movies. I was seating at the nursing station looking at some charts and he would come close to me and just stare. Then he would slowly put his face close to mine. His hair looked like a wild knotted web and his skin had a strange whitish color and texture that made you want to look the other way. His eyes had the most intense blue with the strangest evil stare I will never forget. He confronted my eyes with a stare so intense it felt like a sharp dagger going through my face. As he opened his mouth you could see his missing teeth in all its glory. Than he delivered his ghostly and bizarre message from hell – “I’m going to tie you with wire then I’ll douse you with gasoline and set you on fire and watch you burn”
Every time he started an angry rant it was time for the nurses to intervene. They simply called the mental health aid who knew how to reset Jack. The aid came near him and said “Jack, think of something else, think of something else” Jack then stared at the nothing for moment and quickly changed his horrific mood to one that was almost child like and peaceful. He sat at the edge of the table and immediately became mellow and approachable. I saw the aid performing this trick several times all the way to the end of the shift. I took a chance and tried to redirect Jack like the aid but could not make anything happen at all so I realized the aid had a special gift.
I asked him – “how do you do this”? He said he didn’t know and though he simply listened to him. The aid didn’t know but he possessed a special talent, the same talent some people have with horses. They are able to make horses do things without forcing or imposing anything, they call and the horse comes. To them the horses are tame and obedient. When other people try the same thing they are not successful. Force will not accomplish anything with horses. Our minds are like horses in that they are able to change and lose their rigidity by simply being exposed to this subtle gentle re directing talent. I don’t know what this talent is but I know it exist. Some people have an innate talent but I believe everyone is able to do that if we just become present.
What’s so interesting about Jack’s emotions is that they are just like everybody else’s emotions. Like Jack everyone’s negative emotions can also be blown away and dissipated like a cloud of smoke. The reason we have such hard time controlling our emotions is that other people think they are true and we think they are true. Perhaps because we know the schizophrenic patient emotions are not to be taken seriously, we are able to easily re-direct him because we don’t believe they are real.
I think we are not that far from the mentally ill sometimes. We get carried away and blown away by angry moments. Schizophrenic patients are not aliens from outer space they are just people like us with a severe disease process that affects their minds in strange ways.
So I think that if we treat everyone like they are delusional when they are having a bout of anger we might be able to re-direct their mind and dissipate their anger. I think the trick is on how much we believe these emotions are true or not. I think that there is a little bit of crazy in all of us. So it’s not a bad idea to think we are insane when we are being crazy. Jack was a teacher to me.
Image credit: Orin Zebest