Hey, y’all!  (cough, cough, sputter, sneeze)

It’s gotten really dusty in here again (just like my house…).  I realize the last time I posted was back in October… 

Once again I sit here in front of my screen thinking a million thoughts, and yet nothing very inspiring.  (giggle)

(pause as I ponder)

Okay, I’ve got it.  On my blog I just sort of write about whatever I’m thinking about.  And, right now, what I’m enjoying is listening to Emotional Awareness by the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman. I borrowed the book on CD from the library and it’s wonderful.  I adore the Dalai Lama.  He’s truly my role model for behavior. 

You know those little WWJD bracelets that used to be all the rage (maybe they still are, I don’t know)?  You know, the ones that mean “What Would Jesus Do?”  You know, encouraging you to do your best in any given situation?  Obviously, I love Jesus (does that sound weird?).  His model of love and forgiveness is my underlying philosophy, especially being a novice student of A Course In Miracle.  I am training my mind to automatically look for forgiveness in every situation, and I’m getting pretty good at it. 

But, the Dalai Lama is my go-to mentor for what to say and do in a tricky situation.  For example, sometimes I get really annoyed by people and I want to say something snarky or defensive.  But then I wonder what the Dalai Lama would say to that person.  I think What Would the Dalai Lama Do?  And, I imagine he’d smile and pause, look within himself to see if whatever off-the-wall craziness they’re saying may have a speck of truth and helpfulness to him, and then he’d say something gracious and gentle.  Ah… I just love that about him.  I really try to do that.

So, this book is looking at emotions from a Western scientific view as compared with the Tibetan Buddhist view.  And it’s fascinating.  It is discussing many topics related to emotions and then how meditation can help improve our relationship with our emotions. 

Great stuff!

A lot of it is very applicable to my yin yoga practice.  One idea that comes through the book is that we benefit from slowing down the time between feeling an emotion and acting on it.  Moving from a place of reaction to one of response.  We bring a consciousness to our emotions and then give ourselves time to make a choice, instead of a knee-jerk reaction.  In the end, this saves us from some suffering.  It’s wisdom.

On the other hand, the scientific side, Mr. Ekman discusses how our ancestors lived longer by having quick reaction times to some emotions, especially fear.  One example was seeing a coiled-up hose and thinking it’s a coiled-up snake.  If we mistake the hose for a snake, we stay safe by taking action and moving away from it.  However, if we mistake a snake for a hose, we could end up getting bit and maybe dying.  So, that’s good for our survival. 

However, if we over-condition ourselves toward an attitude of fear — where we assume that life is full of danger and that we may die at every turn — we miss out on a chance to truly live.  Survive, sure.  Live, maybe not.

So, we want to find a middle place, where we can use our emotions to help guide us, but not be so controlled by our negative emotions that we live less richly.  By slowing down a little, and allowing the fear to get our attention just enough to assess the risk, but then moving into choice, we gain more control in our lives and we may enjoy it more.  Not feeling so fearful, but feeling confident and capable.

It’s evolution, actually.  Moving away from merely surviving — toward thriving.

Meditation is very good — very helpful for this — the Dalai Lama explains why in the book.  But, we can feel it (even if we can’t fully explain it) when we quiet the body and the mind, paying close attention to our breath, our walking, our eating, our talking, our touching.  We expand our conscious experience in simple ways first and then we apply that expansion to other areas.

Awareness of our emotions is really helpful.  So is awareness of physical sensations while doing yoga (or whatever physical activity you enjoy).  Making eye contact is good.  A long hug is good.  Playing with children and animals is good. Savoring a meal or a warm drink is good.

Go do some good stuff today — and really experience it!  Really feel it and feel fully alive! 

Blessings today!