Like a hurricane spinning or a pendulum swinging side to side with unstoppable momentum, the frenetic energy of a reactionary life will relentlessly tug at your psyche — that is, until you learn to ease into stillness in the storm.
A reactionary life means a life of objective reaction to its own unfolding. As we’ve previously discussed, the mind wants to focus; it wants to move; it wants to chew. But most of all, it wants to create, and most minds are (falsely) trained to believe that the best creations can only arise from the fire of discontent and the intense resolve to strive for improvement. This premise, of course, is a fallacy.
Identifying a problem is a normal aspect of life, but the speed at which the solution comes thereafter depends entirely upon on the type of focus the mind chooses. Most minds choose to focus objectively: they critically assess the situation, feel badly about it, then frustrated by it, then fearful it will never resolve itself, then distraught, and so on. Some days are better than others, but their mood swing like the pendulum, all the while more problems than solutions present themselves.
You can achieve stillness in the storm
The optimal solution is a life of joyful focus in which solutions quickly and satisfyingly follow problems. But you aren’t ready to live a life without your negative emotions; not yet, at least. So for now, aim for stillness in the storm: a calm mind which can see the problem without assigning any sort of negative emotion to it.
Only from the stillness can a new momentum of direction begin to accelerate. That positive momentum, my friends, is why we all came into these bodies. For the joy of it!
This phenomenon of emotional momentum explains why the spiritual journey towards pure, positive energy occasionally feels like a dam bursting at its seams.
Changing the course of a lifetime of water flow takes both practice and patience. As you grow in understanding of yourself and your mind’s ability to focus, you will learn to naturally slow the water through stillness of mind. But early on, it will still burst through the dam.
It is completely normal to feel on top of the world one day, and completely lost and hopeless the next, as if you are starting from scratch. It isn’t easy to give up your old beliefs and emotional addictions, so never get down on yourself; remember, you are training a river to flow like you would train a muscle to strengthen. Once the water knows which way you intend for it to consciously flow, it will develop a momentum all its own — just as it learned during your adolescent proclivity toward negativity. Get it flowing in the right direction as a matter of principle, and soon, you’re moving mountains effortlessly.
How to best handle the intense return of negative emotion while trying to shift into stillness
The best way to handle strong bouts of negative emotion is to reframe the situation more generally. Try viewing the overwhelming negative energy washing over you as a free dose of adrenaline from nature. Use the anxious energy as fuel. Go clean your house or run a few miles. Do something, talk to someone, do anything; just don’t curl up and feel battered by the pendulum swinging.
Orthopedic surgeons say that a properly repaired and rehabbed injury actually grows stronger than even nature made it. Isn’t this amazing, and so perfectly appropriate for our spiritual practice? To get stronger you must first break a bit. So relish in your moment to strengthen yourself. Let the pendulum swing, and then allow it to come to a peaceful halt.
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