The Process of Emotion

 

As I have mentioned several times throughout the past few chapters, it becomes important to think of emotions in several different ways: firstly as individual emotions, such as happiness, amusement, anger, fear and so on; secondly as a single tapestry, simply a boiling pot of nameless sensations that occasionally bubble to the surface; and thirdly in terms of the manner in which we consider each individual emotion as a process, one which we have to be continuously aware of in order to put our emotional methodology to use. The third is that upon which this particular section is going to focus – I wish to expand a little more upon the nature of the process I have but outlined thus far.

The basic idea is that each emotional state, regardless of what it is, can be separated up into three separate stages, all of which happen fast enough so as to almost be a single entity, but in fact can be distinguished from one-another (academically and literally) through the application of Mindfulness. Firstly, we have the emotional sensation, followed by the production of energy, with the expression of that emotion coming last. When considered in a separate light, what we have is the following:

Emotional Sensation > Psychosomatic Energy > Emotional Expression

The energy, I ought to note, is psychosomatic in nature because it is generated by psychological forces, but has direct physical effect. For example, the sensation of fear generates energy which, physiologically, results in the release of Adrenaline and various other hormones into the bloodstream – thus, a physical reaction to a psychological stimulus. However, the energy generated there is not completely used for the internal reactions, but leaves more than sufficient for an external reaction (the emotional expression) to be brought into effect.

If you need an example of this, think about the last time you were angry. Did that not make you feel incredibly energised? Or how about a state of extreme excitement? There are plenty of times when emotion produces a significant excess of physical energy that you can then put to use in creating an outward expression of that emotional state. But I’m getting ahead of myself there.

Firstly, I want to take a look at the individual aspects of the process, simply so that you can see what I mean by each term, so that you might be able to consider your own emotions in a similar context and determine if that is particularly helpful to you.

Emotional Sensation

This is probably the one that is hardest to purely define, in the academic sense. This is literally the pure feeling of an emotion – the internal psychological emotion that is isolated and unique to the individual. It can be sensed by others, if they have a sufficiently well-tuned sense of empathy, but most people read body language as opposed to the emotions themselves, so a Jedi Realist maintaining good self-control of their outward expressions can often keep their emotions purely within, lacking any external indicators.

Now, it is important to be aware that nobody has issues with the emotional sensations, as far as our methodology is concerned. In fact, I would emphasize that the sensation is a good thing, most natural and appropriate to the human condition – to prevent yourself experiencing those is, frankly, an affront to the sanctity of life. One should embrace experiences willingly, and those provoked internally are no exception to that particular rule. You should never suppress an emotional sensation – you can control the provocation of it, if you must, but even then, only if you really have to.

It does, under those circumstances, help to think of emotional sensations as purely distinct from the outward expressions we often associate with emotions as a whole. This is for two reasons. Firstly, because emotional sensations have no intrinsic position on the moral spectrum – the damage they can cause tends to result from their expression, or in how you allow them to affect your psyche. It is appropriate to allow yourself to feel anger as much as to feel happiness, or compassion. The difference comes from whether you allow yourself to maintain those emotional states, and how you express them, should you choose to do so.

That observed, as a practitioner continues their progress with the emotional methodology, inevitably you may find that certain emotions are far less easy to provoke than they might have been before – often enough, the ‘negative’ emotions are among those most affected by this development. That, too, is only natural to the path we have chosen, so don’t feel too concerned over this. Indeed, such a thing is an expected development, one that usually signals a good level of progress in obtaining the mindset determined by the methodology.

Please remember, though, that emotional sensation must be distinguished from the way in which an emotion is expressed, as well as from the far too simple notions of singular good or evil, for such sensations have a very natural purpose, in evolutionary terms. Anger, for example, might be designed to empower an individual when faced with particular adversity. Sadness, to prevent one persevering under circumstances under which it would be impossible to prevail. Happiness, to reinforce one’s motivation towards performing a certain act – to gain satisfaction from doing something means that one is more likely to repeat that action under similar circumstances in the future. And so on. Each emotion possesses such an intrinsic value, and thus must be appreciated for that. The more complex moral implications of each stem not from the sensation, but from the expression, or in some cases, from whether or not that emotion is sustained by the conscious choice of the individual.

Emotional Energy

This is a more existentialist exercise, in honesty. When thinking of energy being generated, perhaps it would be better to think of it as being existing energy channelled, in the manner of a reserve being summoned in order to allow for a greater effort to be exerted. Regardless, you should come to the understanding that the emotional sensation oftentimes creates a psychosomatic reaction by pushing energy towards a particular function, one which will reinforce the evolutionary intent of that emotion.

If you’d like an example, anger can be used to prepare you for adversity you may face, and the energy generated or summoned, if you will, can be channelled automatically towards the production of adrenaline, to the increase of one’s heart rate, and so on. When sad, oftentimes you also begin to feel drowsy and less physically active than you may have done prior to that, though Psychology often maintains that this an evolutionally redundant function, being often observed as a method of ensuring complete capitulation under circumstances of competition, thus to prevent harm to the loser.

Whatever the case, the effects are relatively obvious and easy enough to both measure and observe. For those with sufficient self-control, the reflexive psychosomatic reaction to a particular emotional state can be used by a practitioner to create a particular physical state, while not incurring any of the potential negative side-effects of the emotion itself. For example, if you feel yourself becoming drowsy, you can force yourself to be angry, in order to initiate the production of internal stimulants. And when angry, or in need of relaxation, it becomes possible to provoke sadness or another of the more physically-debilitating emotions, in order to provoke relaxants being produced. Those are really more extreme cases, but I think you get the idea.

I mention emotional energy because it has side-effects that extend far beyond the purely reflexive physical consequences. Yes, certainly, we can observe and measure the physical changes that occur in the presence of particular emotions, but many of them often also provoke energy that can be directed to a conscious use. Some people, when angry or frustrated, often feel a burst of inner energy that they can then put to use – oftentimes why people will go running or engage in other physical activities when in such a state, in order to burn off that excess energy.

For the purposes of Jedi Realism, though, you have to be aware of the potential issues of allowing such energy to be generated – it has to go somewhere. This is one of the primary reasons that certain emotional states tend to have very physically-oriented outward expressions. And as you can imagine, that can oftentimes be inconvenient when it would be appropriate to have all that energy to hand. For example, if you are meditating and then feel a particular way that causes a lot of excess physical energy to be generated, it would be very difficult indeed to maintain your meditation (though we sometimes use that as an exercise to see if you can under such trying circumstances!).

As a result of this, part of our training for the mindset of the Emotional Methodology naturally includes techniques for dealing with this energy – either stopping it prior to generation, or learning to allow it to bleed off in an appropriate manner, rather than chaining it to directly physical expressions. As you might imagine, this is especially useful for calming a person down when they are in a state of heightened emotional intensity, removing the impetus that oftentimes encourages people to remain in such a state (sustaining that emotion over a longer period than is either necessary or dictated by the initial provocation). After all, the physical side-effects of emotional energy can often be quite intoxicating.

Emotional Expression

Now we come to the crux of the process, as far as Jedi Realism is concerned. Emotional Sensation is perfectly good and appropriate – natural, no less. The energy produced becomes problematic, but that can be dealt with, given a little training. The expression, however, that outward manner in which we communicate those emotions to others – these can be something of a problem. Not all the time, of course, since you do have to express emotions sometime, unless you want people to think of you as an emotionless automaton. Not everyone is sensitive enough empathically to pick up emotion independent of the way it is expressed. And such things are vital components of human interaction.

Of course, in order to be effective as a Jedi Realist, there are several components with regards to one’s emotional expression that needs to be taken into account. The first is simply in the nature of that response. Often enough, this can be quite reflexive, acted upon almost unthinkingly, dependent on the emotion. Crying, for example, is one of those reflexive expressions that are more often than not as psychosomatic in nature as an internal increase in adrenaline levels. The more ingrained expressions take a greater deal of time and control to restrain, as you might imagine.

Thus, the first aspect of controlling one’s outward emotional expressions (as is appropriate, when you consider the possible consequences of some of the more dramatic reactions, such as laughing during a time when solemnity is appropriate, or lashing out at someone in anger) comes literally in understanding what emotions provoke which particular reactions. This naturally varies from person to person – some people, when provoked, will shrug it off without a second thought, while others will over-react quite easily. Thus, we teach students to adopt Mindfulness, so that they can focus their thoughts on the moment, alongside Detachment, which will teach them to look at their own emotions in a semi-objective mode of observation.

The understanding of one’s own stimuli-response mechanisms is absolutely vital in this regard – learn what stimuli provokes which response, so if you achieve nothing else, you will be aware of the circumstances under which a particular emotional response can be coaxed from you. If you can do that, we can then move onto the next step, which is determining whether or not such a response is appropriate.

More advanced practitioners do this automatically, since the technique is embedded well within their psyche through prolonged use – they can witness particular stimuli provoking a specific emotional response, and will know intuitively which outward expressions this might initiate. That is the key to controlling them, because it is essentially progressive thinking, because they will know what will happen before it actually does, since they can observe all the precursors which lead up to that. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually rather simple.

Anyway, once a person knows how they will react, they can then work towards conditioning their response to become something other than that which they would otherwise have used, had they not been aware of the stimuli-response mechanism. Hence, if you know that you become angry (sensation) when someone shouts at you (stimuli), thus resulting in you shouting back (expression), on future occasions when you observe someone shouting at you, you can then consciously determine how you might respond, thus changing the outcome. With repetition, this becomes an operant-conditioned response, thus overriding that outward expression that existed originally.

Alternatively, we take this a step further, using emotional serenity to control not the outward expression, but rather the provocation of the original emotional sensation, using the same kind of repetitive operant conditioning, but instead of changing the way we react to it in the outward sense, we alter the feeling provoked by it. Generally, we utilise calming techniques, or simply bolster our internal emotional environment to prepare it for the stimuli, adopting a particular state of mind that would be a more appropriate response to that which would otherwise provoke the one we wish to change.

Again, I can’t stress enough that this is entirely a matter of choice – you don’t have to control any emotional expression if you don’t wish to. Our methodology simply requires that you learn how. After that, you can determine to use it as you choose, though most of us tend to use it to control inappropriate emotional expressions (lashing out in anger, for example), since such things compromise both our ethical tendencies and our objectivity – hasty actions provoked by compulsive emotional responses inevitably prevent us from taking a moment to consider the various factors within a situation, and invariably mean that the outcome we get isn’t the ideal one we prefer – and certainly one that has a greater chance of having negative consequences, both for ourselves and for others. But you get the idea.