I’ve always been a very emotional person by nature. Not the extrovert emotion of those who take life as a stage, but emotion and feeling have been the bedrock of my life, and what I identify with most readily. I have no regrets about that, it has been an asset in terms of an inner navigation system, one that I couldn’t override without suffering for it eventually, but it has also been a liability at times.
I also love the logic and order of scientific thinking, first principles onwards, but science was something I loved as a child, so it was actually far from unemotional for me. I very much liked Gurdjieff’s dictum that to make knowledge your own you had to approach it intellectually, emotionally and instinctively all at once. Part of the reason I read relatively slowly is because I don’t want to only make an intellectual relationship with a subject. Once I’ve made a relationship with a subject then it is in a sense part of me, and then the alchemy begins, slowly in its own time, beyond immediate conscious attention.
I have found though that it is a necessity to not identify with emotional states in a fixed fashion, because there problems can lie. I would also agree with Gurdjieff again, that negative emotional states are amongst our most key and pressing problems.
My tendency is to identify with emotional states, to take them as being compellingly myself, or a compelling part of myself, often backed up by physiological reactions to things such as stress. When that is really not working it can get to be a closed loop of painful emotion, negative mental structures and physiological stress response driving each other and drawing out what ought to just be transient into a negative confession of selfhood. It gets to inaccurately define me and the world. I’ve been at that place too many times in my life, even if emotion takes me much better places too.
I have a different take on emotion now. It’s still important and a great potential asset to happy living and functioning. It is still my de facto guidance system; blocked or shocked feelings do not enable intuition, whereas calm, positive feeling (not just emoting) is the ground of intuition, and intuition is tremendously important.
Now I view emotion as like a landscape, with areas that are conducive to different things, and areas that are essentially toxic. Whereas at one time I would have found myself in an area of emotion and felt helpless to move due to identification and physiological response (and so just had to “wait it out” and make the best of it), now I realize that it is not me, and I can walk away to a better place. This isn’t cutting out on feeling, it’s choosing the quality of feeling I want to reside with. This not only makes intuition more feasible, but gives intention free space. Reaching this kind of space has been one of the benefits of visualizing levels of experience in alternative ways.
So where I can, I now say this: build your house of peace on the emotional land you choose, follow intuition and free your intention.
This is what works for the kind of magic I participate in.
Life is not all easy, and sometimes we need to visit difficult terrain to release its power over us, and to heal. But that’s a work to do, not a ditch to fall into. So even if you need to do that work, you don’t need to live there. You can start living freer and happier right now.