The other day while just sitting around in my living room, I had this sudden awareness of my newly developed capacity to feel subtler emotions – instead of just high and low notes, there was a spectrum of emotions there were barely discernible in the middle.
I guess if I think about it, emotions are somewhat only noticeable when they are at the extremes. Many people probably go about their daily routines without noticing their emotions. Then again, there is a difference between being conditioned to ignore our emotions versus truly operating from a healthy neutral zone.
I had a profound realisation that the intense emotions I almost always had were preventing me from truly living. They were all I felt – it is like only being able to taste extremely salty or sweet foods, missing out on the finer subtler, more dimensional notes. One can go through an entire life believing food was either tasteless or heavily flavoured, without ever knowing what natural flavours taste like.
Intense emotions are like a perpetually loud ringing noise that follows me wherever I go. It is a constant distraction, distracting me from noticing the present because my emotions were so overwhelming and they would trigger unpleasant memories and those memories would trigger more intense emotions, forming a very unhealthy feedback loop. Interestingly the latest medical research is proving that psychedelics may play a role in breaking those loops. The theory is that they force a reorganisation of the brain. Unfortunately these treatments would probably not be available in where I live at least for the considerable future, but one can break neurological loops with something like meditation, except it would probably take a lot of effort, discipline and time.
I believe the point is to learn to see and experience life and the world in new dimensions that would break us out of old patterned thinking. Old pattern thinking is not just mere thoughts, they are engrained deeply in us precisely because that’s how our brains work – designed to conserve energy by storing what we learn so well that it becomes an automatic response. Our brains are not moral agents, so it cannot differentiate learning useful things like cycling or playing an instrument versus replaying a traumatic memory over and over again.
Travel was one way that would consistently break me out of my old patterns, such as visiting San Francisco for the first time radically altered my mind. The other important factors were books and relationships, including the one with my self.
I still experience being profoundly affected by my emotions. I could experience a day when I felt everything was complete, and the next day I would question the point of my life. But if I could run a sentiment analysis on both my public and private journal entries, I will wager that my sentiments are trending more neutral as time goes by. I would take neutral and middle over highs and lows.
It is just that it is so freeing to notice some silence when one is so used to a chronic, loud, ringing noise.
on the journey and outcomes of freeing ourselves