Overcoming Instinct

Overcoming Instinct...

The natural instinct is to move away from threat and discomfort. To withdraw from pain and displeasure.

But this is not what we do in Tai Chi. In Tai Chi we step in closer. We relax. We move in - not away. That way we can better gain control of a potentially dangerous situation.

It goes against instinct. We have to train ourselves to do this. To go against instinct...

After enough practice and training though - it becomes second nature. With enough practice we instinctively step into trouble. Instincts can be changed. We can learn to act consciously instead of instinctively.

It is similar to learning how to juggle with clubs. There is a nervous system reflex-reaction to move away when an object comes flying at your face. The reflex is to pull back and protect your eyes. But you cannot juggle successfully that way.

You have to stand your ground, control your throws, train yourself not to flinch.

This same thing can happen with our uncomfortable emotions... The instinct is to deny them and move away, suppress them and ignore them. But this does not help us master our emotions. This actually makes us victims of our negative emotional states.

This instinct to withdraw and deny emotions does not allow us the opportunity to learn how to control them.

Suppression is not the same as controlling.

Suppression arises from feeling endangered and threatened... The instinct to move away. But who is it who feels threatened by emotions? Ego.

The Ego can be trained to accept a tough day. Not move away or avoid. Not drink or drug. But feel it and move through.

Emotions will flow if we do not tamper with them. It is the nature of emotion to flow. Interfering with this flow creates too much discomfort. It is not worth it in the long run. Suppression causes us to hold emotions in the subconscious. Where they boil...

Try this... The next time you feel "bad" - look at a clock or your watch and - note the time. Then... Feel bad!

See how long the bad feeling lasts when you do not try to suppress it or avoid it... Don't engage with the backstory. Don't throw fuel on the fire. Just observe the feeling.

Where do you feel it in the body? What are the feeling tones or qualities? Describe and note these aspects of the feeling but do not Identify yourself by your feelings.

They are just feelings... They come and go. Feelings are NOT who you are.

Even Meditating can be an act of avoidance. Trying to pacify emotions... Tranquilize emotions... Avoid emotions... Avoid the Truth...

When you feel bad, feel bad. When you feel good, feel good. Don't cling exclusively to either feeling state and try to the exclude the other...

Mastery of emotions is possible but it requires balance and poise..

Buddha said: "Stay in the Middle - neither for or against." And that is why Buddhism is called "The Middle Way..."

Observe without judging.

Listen and gain the intelligence and wisdom of your emotions. Then you can step in and take advantage of a threatening or dangerous situation; instead of flinching, moving away and being victimized by your own energy... You can do it. It just takes pracice.

Hao la!

--Pahka Dave