Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwing Out The Emotional Barometer

36"x36"  Mixed media " Across The See"
It's always interesting to me what comes up on my radar for examination.  Last week after a couple of social interactions I became aware of the subtle (or not so subtle) measuring that was going on inside me.  What was this strange barometer thing constantly scanning the internal air pressure?  This interaction left me feeling good, that one made me feel slightly unsettled. And then I could see how these feelings lingered and flavoured the the day.  At the end of the week I could see how truly unpleasant all this unconscious measuring really was, how the sheer movement of the scales made me feel a bit internally seasick.

Rather than just being with whatever was I was using my experience in the world to determine something, using my emotional life as some sort of guiding compass. This underground current that I suspect stirs in all of us wants to weigh and measure and tot up a score.  How am I doing?  We may only notice the measuring by the feeling it leaves.  It goes on at Olympic speed, mostly under the radar.
24"x24" mixed media "Travel Plans"
If I don't notice the process, then I use the feelings generated to navigate my world by.  Hmmm, seems a pretty shaky basis to steer the old ship by.  At a deeper level if I want to simplify it, I want life to make me feel good.  I believe somehow that my internal state is determined by the outer world  and what goes on there. I keep track of how that's all going with my barometer.  Sheesh, I'm tired just thinking about the craziness of my internal life! But weighing and measuring tools in the slippery hands of the ego are never a good thing.  Given the Western mind's relationship with itself and the nature of scales I am never going to come out pounds ahead.  And to digress, is this crazy world a good place to get our sanity from?

 In his book "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream And Sleep" Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche tells us that these emotional reactions I'm thinking about arise from "karmic traces". He says, "All moods, thoughts, emotions, mental images, perceptions, instinctive reactions are governed by the workings of karma" (karma simply meaning for every action there is a reaction).  Act with anger once, the seeds of karma for future anger are sown.  And ditto for everything else.

His explanation offers me information on where these "emotional" responses of mine come from, feelings that feel so puzzling sometimes. Their arising is based in past action and contains no conscious intention for how I might want to live my current or future life.  In a way, if I don't consider this I am held hostage by my past (both from this life and past ones, if you care to see it that way).

So as the week wound down I realized that it was unlikely that I could cart this barometer off to a thrift store and get rid of it.  But what I could do was see it for what it was, a very unreliable measuring tool that I could simply see and choose not to use as a barometer. Maybe it's more like a laugh meter or an alarm button or a kitchen timer reminding me to wake up?  How about you?  What's in your internal measuring chest?

28 comments:

  1. I love your work and your thoughts on applying buddhism in daily life and art. I am dropping by often.
    Ken
    www.kensmithart.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Adaptive functioning. That is how I seem to journey through the days. My focus is on the ways in which I adapt to what is happening around me. That focus, at times, becomes quite blurred and I make choices that allow me to fall into a chasm of negative thought and not-so-pleasant emotions. In that case, an alarm goes off......usually 20 minutes too late. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. The ego never stops does it :-), well, unless we stop it for a few seconds here and there, best to never take it too seriously...That is how I cope. Love the paintings, xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  4. surely it's a timer ding dinging, telling me to wake up...

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ken, I can see the connection, contemplative photography, lovely. It's all about that awareness.

    Sharon: It is all a moving game isn't it. Someone wrote a post about a golf course where the monkeys relocate the balls and talked about "playing the ball where the monkey drops it". Ha, ha, yes the alarm often goes off 20 minutes or so later.

    Annie: The ego never has to worry about being under-employed, does it? Best to just watch the show.

    lynne: You knew that. I should have asked first! Waking up is always refreshing, well maybe I'm a little bleary eyed sometimes :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another post with alot of food for thought! I do run on a emotional barometer either in high or low gear. I've become friends with it and have acknowledged that much of my art is influenced by this barometer and that is where I deal with it! That second piece is fabulous! Xo

    ReplyDelete
  7. Both of these are beauties and in remarkably different ways! Love the line in this last piece!
    Oh yes, the barometer! I feel I have made a small peace with this and yet there are flare ups and off the meter swings with alarming bells and runaway heart beats! Its taken me a lifetime to rein in and calm the emotional heart with some clear kind words ... self talk is key for me and if that fails, I have a few vices err treats to make it all better!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jeane, always hoping the food for thought doesn't give you indigestion :) I bet you are basking in the same fabulous weather we are here and loving it. Thanks for the kind words.

    Thanks, MaryAnne. It's interesting to hear all the ways people deal with the "barometer". Ah, yes wise words, and then the "apply a soothing amount of chocolate option! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Carole, I know exactly what you mean by the "seasick feeling" the internal barometer can cause. My art (the practice and process) usually helps me remain on an even keel, along with long meditative walks. but it seems that just when I think I have it under control, it's back to controlling me again. Can't we just get rid of this stupid ego thing? Guess that what Buddhism's supposed to be for... learning to steer yourself back onto the path...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Also wanted to say that I'm in love with the blue color and lines on your second painting... or should I not say that? :) hehe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I second the vote, let's get rid of this crazy ego thing! I'm workin on it! Thanks for the kind words, Sharmon.

      Delete
  11. I guess this is the challenge of Zen thinking... staying in the moment... and not letting ego or outside influences interfere too much... a life time of challenge for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  12. For sure, it is a life's work, one I totally love.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have asked students to use their experiences and emotions in their work. Not to let 'life' numb them - which it seems to do - as we attempt to survive as humans. So I question whether to toss the emotional barometer, or to know when to not react to its messages. It is only a tool.

    As an artist, I want to keep my perceptions rasped raw so I can feel deeply, even when the feelings are not beautiful or can be reacted to poorly. If I am to be a translator of feelings into something visual, then I have to let it all in. This belief system third eye, that watches me traverse life, I have to trust to alert me when I stray into using emotions poorly.

    Ken
    www.kensmithart.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wise words! I agree we need to feel our feelings, for sure, even when they are uncomfortable. It can be a tricky business. The teachings I like most are to feel those feelings in the body and let them self liberate. Perhaps what I am really talking about this sense of of measuring things on some emotional scale of this makes me feel good, that feels bad and then dragging around these feelings and letting them run us (ie wanting to escape certain feelings and avoid potentially helpful or fruitful situations because they rouse discomfort).

    Yes good art comes from feeling deeply, even difficult feelings. Agreed. In fact if I think about it, song and story often deal with the difficult

    Thanks for bringing this to the conversation. I think perhaps a few others were hinting at this and I missed it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I find it difficult to put the practice into my daily life. There seem to be contradictions and ambiguities, and things the Buddha did not comment on. Maybe situations unique to our culture or time.

    Thank you for being one who initiates these conversations.

    ken

    ReplyDelete
  17. I found it impossible to put the practices into my daily life until I had a teacher (Zen monk) who was willing to walk me through my disasters and look at the navigation process, someone who was willing to be honest and kind. It is still difficult, and goodness knows I get it wrong as much as I get it right (or maybe be more :)) But it is so worthwhile. It is a sanity builder and giver of reason. But you are so right, tons of ambiguities and seeming contradictions and as you say, how do we bring these ancient teachings into the modern world.

    I love these conversations and so appreciate those who choose to participate!

    ReplyDelete
  18. A teacher would be a real benefit, to clarify. I read this post again for the fifth or sixth time. I see you are saying it is about the measuring of emotions, hierarchily judged, and then letting that measurement infect daily life. It is so difficult to not let those things dwell on oneself, for days after. Tainting everything.

    I think artists have an especially hard time due to living much of their time in solitude and perusing the interior, while doing their work. It is the only way, but things can percolate confusedly and cause trouble. We love that space, but sometimes there is not enough distraction by the outside world to give balance. It is part of the hazards of the work, but hopefully worth it in the long run. It is a risky but therapeutic path.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yes, this is it and "tainting" is the perfect word. It's kind of like an emotional score card that I'm talking about, with the ego always looking for "how am I doing?" And it's always a no win situation with the ego.

    I think a good teacher is helpful because often we're so mired in the middle of it. Once we learn the skills of clear seeing, there's a lot we can do on our own I think.

    So true that we have time to notice so much because of the solitary nature of the work. The trick is to use this "awareness" to make us more sane, kinder, more compassionate, instead of crazier! This is the work and as you point out, it can be a healing one. Yes, not always easy, but worth it for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am laughing. I wanted to edit my earlier statement, to say that instead of balance, usually the outside world is where the emotional corruption came from in the first place! So I expect my preference is to know what emotional situa will cause me problems, and to avoid those. That could be a kind of attachment, but it is one way to sidestep craziness. Temporarily :).

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your comment reminds me of the story of the monk who spent 20 years in a cave and then when he came out and someone bumped into him on the street he went off on them. It's true the world is where we meet our challenges. A teacher I like talks about our "famous person", the one who drives us crazy. That's the place we learn so much about ourselves and where our current work lies. And yes sometimes we need a rest from the craziness. It's kind of a dance isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love your art. About emotions....I find that your conditions, emotional state very much depends on the chemicals, their level...so, I think to watch this one - important; another thing - the balance in all your bodies- cultivation of positive thoughts in any situation...hard one, but must be trained for well-being...about karma - I'd think instead more about the chakras vortexes, to make them balanced and aligned~ karma in translation - action, so acting from understanding what you need will help in this direction too. ~ Glad I found your site. ~ Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  23. hello humbird! thanks for your kind words. yes, there are so many factors, aren't there? More and more I see the wisdom of the body and the unseen, nonlogical factors as keys to so many things.

    ReplyDelete
  24. for best Online Jobs without any rejection, no time limit required, no investment requires, just spend few minutes and earn upto $35 daily
    www.adsclickearning.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. for best Online Jobs without any rejection, no time limit required, no investment requires, just spend few minutes and earn upto $35 daily
    www.adsclickearning.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Find best business in the world where you can invest only $5 and get profit upto 7% daily for 60 Days, most popular website in ranking, Join now
    www.hotprofitonline.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Find best business in the world where you can invest only $10 and get 3000% Profit, most popular website in ranking, Join now
    www.investorganization.com

    ReplyDelete