Author Topic: Understanding emotions beyond concepts  (Read 3481 times)

GooperMC

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Not sure
Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« on: April 24, 2015, 08:41:15 PM »
Recently during meditation I realized that I have no bodily understanding of many of my emotions.  For example, at some point during almost every meditation session I experience eagerness for the session to be done.  When the eagerness comes I can track it and feel it dissipate but if you asked me to describe what it felt like I have no answer.  Its like trying to describe the color yellow.  I understand what it is at the conceptual level but have no understanding of what it does to my body or mind, all I can do is name it.

Is this another thing that will come with time?  Are there tips or techniques that can help me with this?  I'm asking because my therapist believes that improving my relationship with my body will help speed up my recovery.

Thanks in advance for the responses!

Dharmic Tui

  • Member
  • Something
    • Some Theravada, some secular
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2015, 08:55:13 PM »
If you can identify the sensation of eagerness then that would be a bodily understanding in my view. And you're also able to label it, meaning you can distinguish that from a different emotion.

So I'm unclear what you're wanting to achieve - a detailed analysis of these emotions? The problem with words is they're really limited particularly when it comes to defining experience. As you've said, its difficult to explain "yellow", what words do though is label something so people can come to a shared understanding.

I wouldn't get so caught up in throwing too many words at your experiences beyond being aware of them or simply labelling them.

Goofaholix

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Theravada / Insight Meditation
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2015, 04:52:52 AM »
You can sit there and understand "I'm happy", "I'm sad", or I'm restless" but that's just the concept.  When you find yourself aware of such an emotion on the conceptual level don't stop there, it should be a signal that there is something worth investigating.

Look at the body what physical sensations are there that are contributing to this emotion? look at the mind what mental activity is contributing to this emotion?

An emotion is not one solid thing but a combination of mental and physical characteristics in a state of change.

Alex

  • Member
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2015, 12:25:27 PM »
When the eagerness comes I can track it and feel it dissipate

What exactly is it then that you’re tracking or that you feel dissipating?

bomega

  • Member
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2015, 01:25:19 AM »
Recently during meditation I realized that I have no bodily understanding of many of my emotions.  For example, at some point during almost every meditation session I experience eagerness for the session to be done.  When the eagerness comes I can track it and feel it dissipate but if you asked me to describe what it felt like I have no answer.  Its like trying to describe the color yellow.  I understand what it is at the conceptual level but have no understanding of what it does to my body or mind, all I can do is name it.

Is this another thing that will come with time?  Are there tips or techniques that can help me with this?  I'm asking because my therapist believes that improving my relationship with my body will help speed up my recovery.

Thanks in advance for the responses!
Did you ask your therapist for tips on how to improve your relationship to your body? My first thought is that he/she didn't mean for you to try to analyze/categorize/circumscribe the signals your body gives, but rather to listen to, accept and and connect with your body and the signals it gives you. The bodily understanding of your emotions comes from feeling the feelings and emotions your body.

In addition, that eagerness for the meditation to be over may be coming from your ego mind, which would rather be running the show than having you turn inward looking for stillness (and not your body.)

Quardamon

  • Member
    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2015, 07:22:42 PM »
I'm asking because my therapist believes that improving my relationship with my body will help speed up my recovery.
So you are asking something about the contact with your therapist. ;)

Are there tips or techniques that can help me with this? 
I suppose so. I will explain, but first I mention something else.
In the Satipatthana Sutra, the Buddha tells that you give attention to four things:
the attention being with the body;
the attention being with feelings (and thoughts);
the attention being with the mind;
the attention being with mental formations.
So that supports your finding that one can have emotions and no bodily understanding of them.

Still, emotions, bodily sensations and mental attitude are intertwined. So, talking about techniques, here is an exercise:
Sit easily and calm.
Choose an emotion that is simple and easy to handle.
Call upon the emotion, call it to the fore.
See what this does to your body awareness.
Then, let the emotion subside.
Again, sit easily and calm.

You may find, that also your breathing changed when you made the emotion stronger, and that it changed back when you made the emotion weaker.

    . . .    at some point during almost every meditation session I experience eagerness for the session to be done.  When the eagerness comes I can track it and feel it dissipate    . . .   
In fact, from the point of view of meditation, I would be satisfied with that. You train and strengthen an awareness that can see this eagerness come and go.

I hope that this helps.

GooperMC

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Not sure
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2015, 08:04:25 PM »
Thanks for the replies everyone!

Quote
Look at the body what physical sensations are there that are contributing to this emotion? look at the mind what mental activity is contributing to this emotion?

An emotion is not one solid thing but a combination of mental and physical characteristics in a state of change.
This is exactly what I am having problems with.  When I notice the emotion I search my body but don't find anything.  I then search my mind but don't notice anything beyond the concept.

Quote
What exactly is it then that you’re tracking or that you feel dissipating?
The desire to finished.  I can tell you that at one moment I am feeling this desire and some moment beyond that I am not.  However, I don't have an understanding of what is happen beyond a binary I am feeling it or not.

Quote
My first thought is that he/she didn't mean for you to try to analyze/categorize/circumscribe the signals your body gives, but rather to listen to, accept and and connect with your body and the signals it gives you. The bodily understanding of your emotions comes from feeling the feelings and emotions your body.
This probably shows my newness but I guess I don't understand the difference.  Would it be possible for you to say more?

Quote
till, emotions, bodily sensations and mental attitude are intertwined. So, talking about techniques, here is an exercise:
Sit easily and calm.
Choose an emotion that is simple and easy to handle.
Call upon the emotion, call it to the fore.
See what this does to your body awareness.
Then, let the emotion subside.
Again, sit easily and calm.
I'll try that the next time I sit.  Thanks!

Middleway

  • Staff
  • Just be a witness.
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2015, 02:45:56 AM »
Thanks for the replies everyone!

Quote
Look at the body what physical sensations are there that are contributing to this emotion? look at the mind what mental activity is contributing to this emotion?

An emotion is not one solid thing but a combination of mental and physical characteristics in a state of change.
This is exactly what I am having problems with.  When I notice the emotion I search my body but don't find anything.  I then search my mind but don't notice anything beyond the concept.

You will not find anything beyond a concept. Take your shirt for example. It is real, you can touch it, and wear it. Now what is a shirt? Is it fibers put together in a  certain way which we call shirt? Is it cotton made into fibers? Is it plant? Is it soil, nutrients,water, and sun? You can go on and on without identifying what exactly is a shirt. Your feelings are as real as your shirt. Don't label them. Observe them, stay with them, watch them arise and disappear.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Alex

  • Member
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 10:16:49 AM »
What exactly is it then that you’re tracking or that you feel dissipating?

The desire to finished.  I can tell you that at one moment I am feeling this desire and some moment beyond that I am not.  However, I don't have an understanding of what is happen beyond a binary I am feeling it or not.

So, when you bring awareness to your experience of restlessness, you notice that your awareness/understanding is somewhat monolithic. There is a sense of ‘what’ is there (restlessness), but there is no detail of bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts etc. that are part of this experience of restlessness.

So…

That is your experience…

And that’s just fine, right?  ;)

Body scans (or other guided meditations) from MBSR-programs might be supportive. They are not something to 'do' instrumentally in order to 'improve' your body awareness or 'speed up' your recovery, but just like your meditation sessions, they are invitations to relax and open up to your present moment experience. These guided exercises are especially helpful for people who 'forget' to relax and allow for their experience to simply be their experience.

bomega

  • Member
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2015, 12:36:20 AM »
Quote
My first thought is that he/she didn't mean for you to try to analyze/categorize/circumscribe the signals your body gives, but rather to listen to, accept and and connect with your body and the signals it gives you. The bodily understanding of your emotions comes from feeling the feelings and emotions your body.
This probably shows my newness but I guess I don't understand the difference.  Would it be possible for you to say more?
Hey GooperMC, I could, but I think its better to reiterate my original recommendation to ask your therapist what he/she actually meant, and ask for guidance around it. I'm assuming you have a good relationship with your therapist? If so, you should be able to ask them for clarification about their own recommendations, and they might also be able to work with you in a session to troubleshoot some of your difficulty in understanding. You are lucky to have a therapist to work with...so use that resource to your full advantage.

GooperMC

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Not sure
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2015, 12:45:41 AM »
Thanks for the responses everyone.  You all have given me a lot to think about.

Cheers.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2015, 12:59:35 AM »
Hi Gooper,

Try not to think too much - it can hurt your head. Being mindful of the sensations in the body created by breathing will bring body and mind into harmony most quickly.

Also Tai Chi may be a very useful adjunct to the other things you are doing for your recovery.

Kindly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

GooperMC

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Not sure
Re: Understanding emotions beyond concepts
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 06:36:40 PM »
Thanks Matthew.  Not thinking too much is good advice and something that I struggle with.  I'll also look into Tai Chi.

Cheers.

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
11 Replies
5161 Views
Last post January 18, 2013, 11:15:27 PM
by Mindfullness
12 Replies
3210 Views
Last post January 21, 2012, 01:58:47 PM
by Alexanderjohn
1 Replies
1616 Views
Last post October 20, 2012, 05:40:57 AM
by Falkov
8 Replies
2508 Views
Last post March 11, 2013, 04:33:14 AM
by chintan
0 Replies
1942 Views
Last post July 21, 2014, 01:03:21 AM
by yossarian
4 Replies
1661 Views
Last post October 10, 2014, 08:23:01 AM
by Goofaholix
4 Replies
131 Views
Last post June 27, 2020, 11:28:27 AM
by stillpointdancer