Emotional mind and rational mind
Science has known for some time that the emotions are brewing often beyond the control of the conscious mind, in the area of the brain called the amygdala, a kind of independent “emotional brain”.
There was an emotional brain before a rational one. – David Goleman, Emotional Intelligence pg. 16
It is then possible that, given a situation, or a choice we have to do, happen that our rational brain does not like the election of the emotional brain; Who will follow? who are we? From the moment that someone observes two “tips” or different impulses, emotional and rational, and must decide who to let go, the logical answer seems to be: we are not any of them, nor the rational mind and the emotional. Instead, we are “someone” who is carried away by them. In our present state of evolution as a human species, not yet have a clear understanding of who we are beyond the mind, so sometimes we identify with the emotional decisions, sometimes rational; how are you two do not always coincide, often behave and feel like “divided”.
And who is that somebody beyond the mind?
“… He manifests itself as a parallel stream of consciousness, which looms above or beside what is happening rather than being immersed and lost in it –.. David Goleman, Emotional Intelligence pg 47
According to Goleman, we are (or can be) independent from what happens in our environment and in our mind consciousness. This distance gives us a new identity, we no longer feel “divided” between emotional identity and rational. A surprising statement, but not new, very old indeed; It had already been enunciated thousands years ago in various spiritual traditions. For example, if Buddha were among us, could have told Goleman: “I told you so” (though probably would not).
Who we think we are?
“A king heard the sound of a lute and was delighted for him, so he ordered them to bring that sound. The servants brought him the lute, not the sound, and had to explain to the king that the sound has no independent existence, but is created by the separate ropes, box and arch elements acting simultaneously. Just as the king can not find the sound of the lute, we can not find our self. “– Buddha, Samyutta Nikaya
Usually we get confused with our personality, which is created dynamically, moment by moment, by the simultaneous action of the body, perceptions, emotional reactions, rational thoughts based on the memory of past experiences, and giving unity to all this racket, the awareness. As the lute, personality does not exist independently of its factors.
“We must be able to let things appear in the psyche. For us, this is an art which most people do not know anything. We usually interfering, helping, correcting or denying, without letting the psychic process is developed in peace“. – Carl Jung, The Secret of the Golden Flower, 1962, pg. 93
It seems that Jung speaks of a mind that does not interfere or react with the contents of consciousness, an idea that reminds us to the modern definition of Mindfulness: when we simply observe, without interfere, a deeply therapeutic result occurs, a relaxation in the experience of the moment present, and cease trying to control everything. We realize that if we stop fighting for control, the world does not fall apart, we accept the conditions of life, and found a new source of satisfaction.
Using awareness that does not interfere, do not destroy our ego, rather learn to “see through it” because we do not take it so seriously, we get a “self-liberation”. Meditation allows us free attention, makes us able to reject or at least weaken all the compulsive, automatic, reactions to stimuli, that if we get carried away by them, could harming others and / or ourselves.
“The meditative traditions continue where psychoanalysis ends … we cut the roots of the reaction … That eliminates much suffering. Then you become master of your own mind and experience.” – Daniel Brown, MindScience: An East West Dialogue, Boston, Wisdom Publications, 1991, pg. 101.
The importance of identifying emotions when they occur
Of course, one thing is detachedly observe our mind while meditating in a place specially chosen for this, with nothing and no one to disturb us, surrounded by peace, and quite another to observe without interfering what happens when we are in action and things do not go as we had planned. For example, one of the most powerful emotions is anger; comes to us as a reaction to something we do not like, it may be an injustice, someone inappropriately treat us according to our view, or just something that happens and hurts us. It is dangerous because it captures us a lot of energy, which aims to fight, fight, destroy what has disturbed us. In addition,
“Anger and fear are the two emotions that impulse demand a more urgent response. Given these two emotions there is an eagerness to act.” – Rafael Bisquerra, The Universe of Emotions, pg. 79
This impatience to act can lead to perform harmful actions; even if we have spent years meditating, the big amount of energy captured by the emotion and the speed with which it acts can take the control. How to achieve being a master in regulating such emotion? Every time that happens to us once last episode, we must review the events, and realize retrospectively that have been dominated by anger. Over time, our appreciation of this emotion improve until there will come a day when we are so fast that we do not catch by surprise, recognize it when it comes in; then we will be able to get carried away by it, if we deem appropriate, or pass up, in other words, we are free to act as best we may seem, we will not be conditioned.
Keep in mind that there is often anger episodes of low intensity, which can easily be overlooked. Do you feel tense? angry? ?impatient? peevish? I feeling disaffection? All these states can be related to the more or less disguised anger. It is important to be aware of any negative emotional state, learning to recognize and label: “I recognize that I am impatient … my mind is impatient … my current mental state is impatient …”.
Making brief moments of mindfulness during the day
Another possibility to train attention for the action is to brief regular breaks from what we are doing and in that brief moment, may be only a few seconds to give full attention, can be our body, our emotions at that moment or thoughts. There are even various mobile apps that can help us; for example, there is a free app reminding us to stop a few seconds, and it does so with the beautiful sound of a Tibetan bowl: Mindfulness Bell.