‘Dark’ and ‘Light’ make Whole.Posted: October 31, 2013
Hi again 🙂
I’ll have a new post up tomorrow. Just wanted to share this first. It’s an article titled ‘How To Turn Negative Emotions Into Your Greatest Advantage.’ I”m introspective this evening.
Recently I’ve been thinking about how to transmute “dark moods” and negative emotions through mindfulness practice (being both an occasional bearer of bad moods, and a practitioner of mindfulness).
You no doubt have, as have I, met wonderful people who seem to be natural masters of what is known as “positive thinking” or optimism – people who have a natural lightness to them, a natural disposition of light-heartedness.
Whether through genetic inheritance or early socialisation (or both) they have the inner foundation that gives them the ability to glide through life with perfect enthusiasm, most of the time.
It took me a long time to compassionately accept that my own “energy” levels, in contrast, tend to be rather “bipolar” – in that I tend to naturally fluctuate between very, very light-hearted, optimistic moods, and very intense moods, that cause me to seek solitude to find peace.
More than the average person does. And those intense moods are… powerful, to say the least. With every year that passes, thankfully, this “fluctuation” becomes less pronounced. I’m getting closer to equilibrium. Exercise and mindfulness help tremendously in regulating/boosting my energy levels.
And, having practiced mindfulness for a while now, I am pretty good at taking a breath and shifting into an “observer” mode in the middle of an intense mood or situation – as if looking at myself from above. In this space, one can actually observe ones own thoughts and feelings in an objective, non-judgmental way.
Being able to observe, without judgment, means that, in that moment, one has actually detached oneself from the problematic thoughts and feelings. For an over-thinker/over-feeler like me, this is freedom. It is not a headspace of giddy joy, nor darkness or despair. It is a point of sweet BALANCE, and acceptance.
Becoming the Overseer is thus one of the big boons of mindfulness and meditation practice: being able to detach from thoughts and feelings and just see oneself, others, and life, as it is. With universal compassion and graceful acceptance.
But it was this part of mindfulness that took me a while to really “get” – as I unfortunately listened to advice early on from self-styled “positive thinkers” that: a) any negative emotion was bad and needed to be suppressed; and b) I just needed to act happy in order to train myself to be happy.
Happiness is not my goal. But point b) kind of works for me. I believe practicing gratitude and being consciously (and genuinely) thankful for things in ones life is essential to well being – I have found this to be the case in my circumstances. Practiced over time, it is as if you train your brain to seek the “positive” things in life.
Point a), however, has been ineffective, and harmful, when I have tried to practice it. The article linked above points to why that might be. It should not be a cause of shame to feel negative emotions – such emotions are part of being human. Sometimes, they are understandable reactions to events and circumstances in our lives.
Nothing to be ashamed of. Not a sign of weakness, or moral failure. But a natural part of being alive. So, mindfulness – as it relates to dealing with negativity – is not about being a ray of sunshine 24/7, and it certainly doesn’t involve pretending, or suppression.
Rather, it is about the WAY we respond to – and transmute – “negative” emotions, and the powerful energy behind them.
The article linked above has some interesting suggestions on how to do that, looking at SIX NEGATIVE EMOTIONS: Anger, Adversity (not an emotion, of course, but something that produces disturbing emotions), Shame, Pessimism, Envy, and Loss.
Successfully transmuting these emotions into positive actions and fuel for “enlightened” growth can come after mindfully accepting, observing, then working through, those difficult emotions.
Anger, Adversity and Loss are the emotions that have been prominent in my life, as well as Scepticism (a position often interpreted as Pessimism). Sadness (not on the list) is an inherited trait for me, but one that gives the gift of genuine understanding, and compassion.
Personally, I see the beauty – and even necessity – of all these “dark” emotions, when approached mindfully and harnessed positively. And I believe in continuing to learn ways to process and transmute, rather than suppress, the ones I experience, into “light”.
How about you? What’s your “darkness”?