A Contemplation on Death and Emotions
Developmentally speaking, contemplation of our mortality usually begins around middle age. The realization of the reality of life and death brings up feelings of grief which can masquerade as fear and anger. All are normal developmental markers of entering this more conscious awareness of our limited timelines here on Earth.
Our pre-disposition is to fight and hang on to ideas that if we could control this thing called life, we could control the outcome. We cannot do this feat. No one escapes, yet we all do. It’s a paradox.
When we can begin to disidentify with the physical body, either through meditation or kundalini awakening, we can be the witness to our own immortal soul, our Being. This part of us is eternal and lives on energetically in other realms of light not visible to human sight, but is all there, nevertheless. Ironically, one does not have to believe this for it to be true.
There are many reasons for suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts, just as many reasons as there are people on the planet. They all come down to the fear of the unknown and a desire to control this unknown, eliminate the question mark, if you will.
We rationalize our existence based on what our society and media tell us. We measure our failures against other people’s successes and in doing so we lose hope of ever measuring up. We are not broken; however, our measuring sticks are.
As far as we know, humans are the only sentient beings that compare ourselves to each other. This is the mark of evolution. Evolution has given us this ability to learn through comparison and is probably the main reason why we are still here.
After we have rationalized our existence and minimized our importance and value through comparison, we become lost in the dark desperation of separateness. This feeling of separateness can be healed through self-examination of our emotional self, our emotional body. Let me take a moment to review what might not be apparent to you.
We are not our thoughts or our feelings. Our identities are a collection of the ideas we have about ourselves. Ideas are not fact, they are assumptions. Thoughts are random unless one sets and intention or a focus for them. Daydreaming is unstructured, unintentional thinking, which can be healthy but can also turn into negative forecasting and worry. But again, daydreaming is not what we are, it’s a behavior, it’s something we do. All thinking is behavior, a product of our imagination and all feeling is behavior of our sensing self.
Taking a quote from a favorite 12-step group, “you must act your way into new thinking”. By understanding that we have the power to change our thinking, our emotions and new ideas about ourselves we can begin to see that change is possible, powerful and achievable for even the most hopeless of us.
Let me walk through this idea with you. Let’s take for example, a couple of the “worst” human emotions, fear and shame. I am not fear or shame, I am A Being, experiencing the emotion of fear and shame. In order for me to feel them, I have to have had some prior experience feeling them. My brain tells me these are familiar, and the synapses fire and I get triggered and become upset because I don’t like how these feelings feel in my body. They make me feel uncomfortable, want to hide or run away. So, I’m actually in a response to the emotion and not “feeling” the emotion itself. Fear and shame are just labels, meaningless without someone’s history to make them meaningful. The “feeling part” is the muscle memory of what that has been linked to this trigger in my past. And, since our pasts are all individually created and mapped by our individual brain processes, no one can actually experience them identically. No one. We do, however, experience what is call a collective consciousness in which we all silently agree to what and how these emotions “feel”. This is how we can help each other, comfort each other, and empathize with each other.
Everyone talks about feeling our feelings these days, but does anyone ever explain what that means or how to do it? Let me talk about my process that I walk through with my clients. After learning some basic emotion definitions, I begin to ask what that feeling feels like in your body, where do you feel it, is it hot, does it have a color, taste or smell. What is your immediate reaction when you feel that emotion? At this point we can pause and contemplate the answer to these questions. If the person is unable to safely process the emotion at that moment, we can stop and do a calming and re-centering exercise, modulating the breath and relaxing the body. In a calm state we can go back to the feeling and begin to be curious about it. What did that feel like? Do you remember the first time you felt that, or when did you feel that emotion the most? What was going on in your life? My experience has showed repeatedly that feeling memories that fire together wire together. So, it’s not just the immediate situation you are feeling, it’s maybe all of the previous times you felt it manifesting in your body again.
When we can change our relationships with our emotions, our feelings, we can begin to bring intention to our thoughts and change our behavior around these feelings, so they are not so reactionary but intentional and instructional. I believe that understanding how your brain works is the most useful since we are all wired and conditioned differently. What is triggering for one person, will not necessarily trigger another and we cannot go around dodging landmines that the other people have buried in their own minds. We cannot even know our own triggers until someone steps on them. We simply cannot possibly know.
This brings us back to the topic at hand. How do we reconcile our mortality in the light of knowing that we are headed down this road called life at full speed right into a brick wall we know is coming but know not when? How can we “feel our feelings” when we don’t know how long it will take and if we can survive them?
We can change our attitudes about the experiences we’re having. We can share our thoughts and feelings with others and feel compassion and loving empathy knowing that we are all going to leave our Earthly bodies someday. We can have some fun; we can go broke and then make it all back again. We can laugh at ourselves, and we can cry too. We can use our voices for good and that is the ultimate act of service. Sharing our personal experiences can benefit others, it is a good and noble purpose. We can extend grace and mercy to ourselves and others. There isn’t any need to compare or judge, although us humans tend to do that a lot. Our voice can be our greatest strength when we use it for good. When we propagate fear, we all suffer.
*If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide please reach out via text or phone to national 988. In most places, someone local will be on the other end and can help you.
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