Wandering upon the Affective Terrain
Understanding Emotions as Information
Pema Chodron's What to Do When the Going Gets Rough has had a great deal of influence in my daily life. It appears to me that in meeting the difficulties of life we are faced with several levels of experience. In order to process this stuff we harvest from our waking lives, we need more than just the mind, and Chodron has given me novel tools to do just this.
I'm fascinated by the way Bhuddist thought aligns with my chosen philosophy of life and spirit, but the most intriguing aspect for me is the praxis of Bhuddism. While much spiritual information can seem unmoored from and hovering over the material life, Bhuddism has a wealth of accumulated practices, strategies, techniques, and attitudes that seem to be able to ground the subtle and intangible in the daily go-round. Chodron's article was the first that really woke me up to how much help there is available when we seem to be floating in mid-air.
The great lesson I feel I'm now learning is that of appreciating emotion. I've often approached it in the past in much the same way an objectivist might: that our emotions are reflections of the quality of our thinking. According to this attitude, a difficult emotion is a sign of some problem to be addressed, and the purpose of addressing it is to attain forward progress by overcoming or purging it. It is no exaggeration to describe my former regard for emotions as one regards noise in the signal.