Opinion: Mindful moments on emotional education

POSTED: 08/22/14 12:08 AM

Mindfulness is tuning into your inside as you operate on the outside. It is the validating of your experience as you have it. It is acknowledging and accepting things as they are or noticing that you do not accept things as they are.

Just imagine a world where we are conscious all the time. On a daily basis one can experience the full range of emotions from anticipation, gratitude, ecstatic joy, bummed out to murderous rage. Our emotions are with us constantly yet many of us neglect or prefer to pretend they are unimportant. We wish them away, don’t know they are there and are unaware of the powerful hold it can have our behavior’s as we morph from happiness to reluctance, from misunderstood to being enlightened. Our emotions are transient, they can be contagious and can even get trapped in our bodies. For example you and your partner have a full out battle (grinding teeth, venom pouring, bulging eyes etc.) just before breakfast. If there are mini spectators in the room, they will be affected by this early morning war. A problem for you and partner, but also for the mini onlookers stuck with the task of having to write the ending of the battle (in their heads), as they head for school or pretend it didn’t matter. The opposite emotions; loving kindness is also contagious though not as contagious, it will have a positive influence on the audience as well. Take a moment to imagine how in both these scenarios the young onlookers showed up to start their day, imagine the outcome of a consistent diet of both. Emotions are the peanut butter and jelly of the sandwich, the chicken in the soup and the salt in the sea. We need to give the upcoming generations an education in emotions. On having them, understanding them and taking responsibility for them. About 20 years ago many neurologists wanted nothing more than to cut away our emotional life from us. They pretty much saw our emotions as a nuisance. Today they now understand that the brain and the body have a corresponding emotional life. Sometimes it causes psychosomatic disorders like stomach ulcers or high blood pressure. These days big businesses and marketers hire psychologists and neuroscientists to understand how to manipulate you into buying their product. Our tendency to disqualify or ridicule others emotional response, saying phrases like: “that is an emotional response” as I often see in the newspapers, may lead one the think that most responses were coming from an unemotional place which is hardly the case. Great decisions are made on tempered emotions. That we live such emotionally illiterate lives makes me ponder what we could have attained were we more mindful of our emotional life. Once we learn to acknowledge our emotions and recognize that they are the driving force to many decisions we make, we can stop feeling foolish, obnoxious and embarrassed. We can stop taking responsibility for other people’s emotions. We can stop shaming people for having them. We can admit to biases when making elemental decisions. To be emotionally ignorant causes people to act from a place of unawareness, operating from their habits. For us to change and grow, we will have to look to neuroscience. Educating people on their emotions will empower them to be with their emotions and not overtaken by them. Crimes of passion could be diminished, bullying minimized, parental neglect a non-issue. In a world where one learns to assert oneself is a world where courage and confidence would to the common attributes of its people. We can keep “friendly” but let’s add some other qualities like insight and wisdom to our future generation that will build this country. And it is the people of this country that builds the country. Let’s empower them.

Debbie Zwanikken

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