inthegarden beyondthecave

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What are effective ways of gaining control over one's emotions and desires so that one can channel them toward more productive activities.

I would like to draw on all of your experience and knowledge in this area.

Whatever you happen to believe are life's most important purposes, gaining more control over emotion and desire is likely to make as more efficient at pursuing that purpose.

As I have indicated elsewhere, I think the good life entails living benevolently. Emotion and desire seem to be two factors that either move us away from more beneificial action, or move us toward more beneficial action. Accordingly, it would seem to me that gaining greater control over these factors is essential for making us more capable of living benevolently.

I once had a boring job carrying things from one place to another in noisy factory. I kept up my spirits up by singing "Whistle while you work".

A book I am reading, Motzart and the Fighter Pilot (Richard Restak, MD) It suggests that there are four states: calm energy, calm tired, tense energy, and tense tired. The tense tired state is the one in which we tend to behave the worst. He suggests a nap in that case. In contrast, he suggests a walk in the calm tired state.

Last year I read a book "Awakening the Global Mind" by My former professor, Ashok Gangadean, who uses the phrase mental "technologies" which was for me a new way of conceiving philosophy. This started me to think more about philosophy as pursuing a wisdom that embraces not just the intellectual, but also the emotional realm, in their unity with each other.

I am now pursuing the notion that there is a deep connection between empathy and wisdom, but I am wondering how else we migth gain beneficial contol over ourselves.

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    Jun 29 2011: "Detached attachment".

    When you let go of your personal investment in your work, but do it only for the greater welfare it is contributing to, then you will see that your work will be the best quality, and your emotions do not overwhelm your purposes.

    Do not think I'm earning for myself, but think I'm earning only for my family.
    Do not think I will get a big raise after I complete this project, but think I will be improving something else by completing this process.

    Maybe not very profound, but it helps me.
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    Jul 3 2011: If it is not related to mental illness or extreme emotional circumstances,. I don't think anyone needs to embark on meditaion or take anger mangement courses or spend years and years with a shrink to nail this. I think it can be done with a practice of intention and with determination.

    .step 1: realize that it's impossible to speak persuasively or credibly from anger, judgment,resentmnet bitterness, ego or defensiveness...with anyone..ever. Ok to be angry, ok to feel any of those things..but never speak or act from them..recognize them even..own them.but.don't act from there. Self monitor to ntice what kinds of events are welling up these emotional esponses.

    Step 2: train yourself (your inner obersver to notice that you are angry, jealous, judgmental, whatever)..allow some silence..some distance from it..if unable to speak or act from another place..more silence.

    .Step 3:let the stromg reaction in its own time in its own way trace itself to the root..just sort of hold it remember what you can about the detal s of the trigger..but don't push it ..don't intentionally try to analyse..but don't forget it either..sooner or later..most likely sooner the root will be revealed..and it will just go away all of it..the root and the recent event that caused therecation and all future possibilities of tripping again on that same root

    .Sep3 alt: if you can't get control through mindful practice within two or three weeks then anger management programs may help. I know of a least one case where through anger mangement intervention a person completely chnaged from anger driven and ranting to calm centered and consistent in a matter of months.
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        Jul 5 2011: It's an overly abridged version of a a really excellent set of Rudolph Steiner practices. A small group of us in my contemplative community engaged the practice over a span of a few months and met regularly to compare notes. Managing and noticing "trgger" responses was one of the more advanced practuces that drew on prcatices of discipline in will, mind, and heart. It was a practiceof alignment of these other inner faculties the goal being to recah a constant state of equanimity so thatthese strong emotional responses never have a chance to cloud and distort. I'll try to find the cite and bring it here.A very wise chinese psychiatrist I knew many mnay years ago used to always say "feeling follows thought" otherwrds through the discipline of mind and will we can chnage how we feel about events and others.

        (This responded to a comment by innthegarden which was deleted left this as further ino on the practice)
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          Jul 6 2011: I do not know what happened. I did not delete the comment and I do not think it was objectionable. (I hope not). I am having some trouble. One comment I prepared below would not stick. I was told to sign in when I was already signed in. This keeps happening and I do not understand what I am doing wrong.
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    Jun 30 2011: Hello Indigo..great discussion especially for here at TED where we are still in the process of community building so that we can get to the place where we can have truly global conversations

    .I think one of our big problems here at TED is that our "Dawkins Doers"( and I mean nothing perjorative in this term but I do mean to refer collectively to the many bright young folk here who are Dawkins fans) don't understand that effective advocacy, effective change agency, requires

    :(1) being "for" something rather than "against what is"..always speaking "for" what you are trying to achieve in a way that engages and attracts the widest possible audience to your cause

    (2) speaking with perfect clarity, simplicity and eloquence, from a place of calm and equanimity about what you are for or to the harm caused by "your adversary"

    (3) lots of good leg work to really have abroad command of facts, reliable sources, good documentation.

    (4) it is never persuasive or effective to advance a cause or winn support and respect for your cause to mock or characterize your adversary, to ridicule their premise, to block or obfuscate their discussions with diversions and off topic comments. Speaking from a place of judgment and mockery only discerdit you. You only have to do it once or twice in nay community of intelligent people to be permamnetly discredited..permamently branded as a whacko

    ..(5) if your goal and purpose is very very clear you will most often automatically say and do the most effective thing to advance your cause

    Indigo, .I wanted to start there rather than leap right into how one can learn to never speak or act from a place of anger, jealousy, fear, resentment, judgment, bitterness, anxiety.I wanted to start with the "why " of that

    . How much more empowered and empowering we can be when we can speak clearly and calmly and eqloquently from the ground of our being.
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      Jul 2 2011: This is very helpful advice. I will keep it in mind and return to it in the future.

      About number one and its application to young people: I think of Hegel and the "dialectic".

      Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

      I remember being in the world with a thesis that did not work for me, so I had to be an antithesis. There was nothing else I could be. But at the same time, I was a yearning for a synthesis. When I discovered Philosophy in College, I hung on for dear life. At that point in my life, the philosopher that made most sense to me was Neitzche, and I think I was not alone since you would always see people carrying around and reading their Neitzche. I think a lot of the postmodern type philosophers and folks like Dennett, Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens really resonate with many people because that is where they are in their life. They were born into a thesis which they witness explosively tearing itself apart in their minds and they live this tearing apart of the explosive reality they were given. They are holding on to the peices of it that make the most sense, either denouncing the urge to synthesis because they judge that urge as the foundation of the false thesis they are overcoming, or yearning for a new synthesis that is better constructed so that life can be set on a less self destructive path.

      So I would say that the "Dawkin's Doers" are probably at that stage in the dialectic. It is a vitally important stage. Antithesis is an essential moment in the movement toward intellegence. When one is in the moment of antithesis, there is no synthesis, and hence, nothing substantial to be "for". They are clearing enough room in their mind for the new mansion they might yet build. You see it with Sam Harris, moving from his critique of the christianity he found himself in toward a moral synthesis.
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        Jul 3 2011: Indigo,

        I want to understand what you have posted here ,more deeply and will giv eit some serious thought.

        Sounds like liminal space?

        Sounds like agood future TEd discussio..but I would need t o some homework to even particpiate. Thanks for your good thinking..
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        Jul 3 2011: Hi Indigo,

        Still chewing on your proposition that the the "Dawkinists" are simply in a stage of "antithesis" and that antithesis is a necesssary step before there can be "synthesis"

        .Liminal space, which I refer to above, or "the cloud of unknowing" as it is referred to sometimes on a spirtual path is considered exactly in those those evolutionary and necessary place before "the new" can emerge.

        But as a social or intellectual movement "serving humanity" as Sam Harris and Tom Atlee both suggest is what our belief system should do, chaos is or "anti-" is not a place we can build anything from. Culture has to do better thna than. Cultural leadershi,moral leadership within culture has to to do better than that.Angry isn't enough. "anti-" as a posture can become positive and useful through rigorous fact checking, rigorously and diligently holding up the memes that are spreadng, the danger of them, their influence on our lives. "anti" with a oicus. anti- with a purpose

        .But ultimately we don't coaslesce as community around "anti'" at least not in any way that is fruitful. The movement always has to be for and towards something that is a more widely held and cherished value.
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    Jun 29 2011: Meditation.
    Even if it is not structured meditation , deep dive in thought, taking a break from day to day activity helps a lot.

    Active listening is also helpful.
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      Jun 29 2011: Hi Salim,

      I have been curious about whether mediation would be helpful.

      Do you find any particular kind of mediation useful? Or different kinds for different situations? Do you know of any good sources of information about mediation?
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        Jun 29 2011: Hi Inthegarden
        I heard many people gets benefit out of meditation, but don't know about different kind of meditation for different situation.
        What I practice and got benefit out of it can share that..........
        Even in my high speed corporate life , I take small breaks and be in room quiet just and try not to think anything.
        Second thing try to be active listner , what I mean is to understand motive behind what I hear from people..... as many times people talks different thing than what they think.... due to power distance, hierarchy distance, cultural variation etc. Asking more and more open ended questions helps a lot to bring out emotion behind , which if one is on emotional surge fail to fathom , so can impact the outcome negatively.

        I do practice those as per suggestion consultants....... yes I am now able to control my emotion to some extent .......
      • Jun 30 2011: Hi Inthegarden, if I may add to Salim's suggestions, it helps to have someone to guide you through the process, if meditation is a new experience for you. It is easy to be distracted in the initial phases of learning so if there is a class or group that you can join, it will help to overcome the initial "noisy" mind.
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          Jun 30 2011: Hi Julie
          Yes you are so right. Thanks for your thoughts.
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    Jul 1 2011: think it thru and talk it thru
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    Jun 29 2011: In my case, out and out rage engages me if I see something unjust. So then I have to retreat into my brain and consider that I do not see the motivation behind the act. At the point that I can understand that this is not a personal attack but that I happen to be in the right place at the right time that someone can use me to vent. That seems to dissipate my anger.
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    Jun 29 2011: I believe that different emotions interact with people in different ways. Ever notice how some people are not productive if they aren't motivated by anger or some form of emotional stress? Others are motivated by simply achieving bliss and every time they have the ability to experience this it motivates them further. I think it is important to study ourselves on how emotions affect us personally and understand what emotions in what circumstances can be productive. Example; if I understand that when I'm upset I write the best poetry and writing poetry is how I make a living then when I am upset i need to have the ability to recognize that this particular emotion for me is most beneficial when I'm writing.
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    Jun 29 2011: Intelligence, emotions and motivations are like muscles. If you train them, you don't use them up, but instead make them stronger. For example, if you get used to lying in bed all day, you will not build up more energy reserves, but instead become even lazier. On the other side, if you make sports thrice a week for a while, you will start to feel more energized and be able to accomplish much more. Before distributing energy on tasks, one needs to gather it in the first place. In a similar way, practice will shape the routes in which one thinks and feels. It determines how much energy we supply to certain emotions, thoughts and attitudes, just as regular sport training determines how much energy we supply to physical activity.
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      Jun 29 2011: Hi Ray,

      The book I mentioned earlier by Dr. Restak talks about building circuits in our brain through engaging in various activities including physical activities. He uses the phrase "use it or lose it." So I think there is something to say in favor of your advice. We strengthen that part of our brain that we want to use for some purpose by exercising that part of the brain by engaging in that typr of activity.
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        Jul 3 2011: Hi, Indigo & Ray

        I am a big believer that we can excercise our inner faculties to great effect..mind, will, heart by "circuit training" exactly as we do our bodies. We can evolve practices that also develop and perfect alignment of our inner faculties..allowing them to all work together and inform our actions, our speech, our thought.