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|03-07-2011, 09:16 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England, UK
Feeling Good: Tying it all together
Note: I have had to split this post into two due to the 10,000 characters limit.
Feeling Good: Tying it all together (Part I)
I have a phrase I've been saying for a while now:
"The kinaesthetic is the final arbiter of your personal experience".
What this means is that however you feel in your mind-body at the time is going to determine your judgment of whether an experience is "good" or "bad". So you may have the logical idea of equanimity and non-judgment, and you may be studying that concept diligently and trying to implement it in your everyday life. But the bottom line is that if an experience is making you feel bad, you will consider that a bad experience. Read that again. It means even though logically you know it's not important, the bottom line is, if you feel bad about it, you are feeling bad about it!
So what happens is people come up with all these zany ideas to stop things making you feel bad. E.g. the concept of equanimity. With many months of practice, you can stop caring about certain things. Also, life experience will make you stop caring about many things, and so will facing your fears. Then there is presence, NLP, timeline regression, "tapping", and all these other zany ways of trying to get you to stop feeling bad in response to events. The problem is that all of these methods rely on the idea that by not feeling bad, you will automatically feel good. In fact Eckhart Tolle rams home the point many times that feeling good is the default state of humans. But is this really true?
I am going to contend that, in fact, this is not true at all. The default state of the human is one of anxious threat-assessment, restless survival impulses to search for food, and raging hormonal pressures to mate.
Re-read that. I believe that is our natural state. And it accounts for every bad thing we see around us.
I don't believe we are stuck like that however, which brings me to my main point in this post. We can choose to feel good. Feeling good is a choice. And, more importantly, when you feel good, EVERYTHING FEELS GOOD. Because the kinaesthetic is the final arbiter of personal experience.
We can prove this with mind-bending drugs like MDMA, or opiates. As long as these drugs are making you feel chemically fabulous, everything in your personal experience will also be deemed as good.
WHEN YOU FEEL GOOD, EVERYTHING FEELS GOOD.
Stop a moment now and reflect over times in your life this has been true.
Now the most important aspect of this realization is that all the timeline regression, psychotherapy-style methods -- anything that has you visiting memories, or changing reactions -- really become redundant as far as feeling good is concerned. I am not saying that knowledge of your reality model and default reactions isn't important for self-knowledge and knowledge of the human template. But it won't intrinsically make us feel good, or even necessarily stop bad reactions. Knowing you are going to be anxious going into a situation for example won't make you not feel anxious. It may give you acceptance enough to go and do it anyway, and plough through anxiety, and therefore give you some good experience and what not, and even less anxiety next time, but this self-knowledge won't actually make you feel GOOD. And since what most of us really want is to feel good as much of the time as possible, let's instead focus on THAT.
Now when you feel good, everything about your experience feels good. If you have the "GOOD" switch stuck to "ON", then everything is going to feel good, and stuff that would ordinarily bother you either won't even be noticed, or simply won't affect your state if it is noticed.
Drug addicts are all too aware of this mask that can be applied to reality.
Let's list some known ways to stick the GOOD switch to ON for long periods of time:
- Drugs, particularly the first trip on a particular drug when you are not accustomed to the neurochemical effects. For example, MDMA, when tons of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are flooding into your brain. You have no past experience of this, so you cannot distinguish between the reward effects of the environment and the reward effects of the drug. So everything is deemed to be coming from the environment, and consequently everything seems AMAZING. After a few trips however, your brain learns to take the drug into account and "minuses" some of the reward feelings from the experience to offset the effects of the drug. Clever brain. Not good for your future trips, however.
- Exercise. Do enough exercise, and you firstly have the adrenaline which feels pretty good and blocks you from thinking bad things, and then you have the opioids afterwards which feel GREAT. So you can feel pumped up after a workout or run and this GOOD switch can be stuck on "ON" for some time afterwards.
- Anything mega-rewarding which your brain interprets as a large boost to your survival/reproduction capabilities: winning money, completing some project, getting into "state" by socializing and winning some dominance battles, or by doing some successful mating behaviours with a high-value mate.
- Specific meditations, chakra exercises, or other mind-body link (Circuit V) exercises that get some good neurotransmitter releases going.
- Simply working hard all day and "feeling like you've earned it".
This last point is important, and leads to my next important realization.
Last edited by Illuminatus; 03-07-2011 at 09:19 PM.
|03-07-2011, 09:18 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England, UK
Feeling Good: Tying it all together (Part II)
Feeling Good: Tying it all together (Part II)
The second most important realization in this post is the idea that feeling good is a choice we MAKE.
I was thinking about this this weekend after going out on Friday night, and having a really good time. It seems like this kind of night out, of spontaneous joy, flow, presence and good feelings, has seemed to happen less and less the more I've got into mindfulness and what not. The self-knowledge we discussed earlier has a tendency to actually make me focus on the bad things and my reactions to them. But meditation and stuff is supposed to make you feel better about the world, so what's going on?
Well if you aren't actually feeling good about stuff, you won't be feeling good, since the kinaesthetic is the final arbiter of your personal experience. That means if you're focusing on anything other than feeling good, your experience becomes whatever you are focusing on. Focusing on bad reactions? You become your bad reactions. Your experience is whatever's in your awareness.
I thought back and realized that almost every good time I've ever had was preceded by the intention to ACTUALLY HAVE A GOOD TIME.
I am barring just a handful of experiences from that, and those are first-time drug trips whereby experience is indistinguishable from the reward effects of the drug, as I explained earlier. However, even then, I at least approached the drug with an open mind during those first trips, rather than obsessing over possible negativities beforehand. I know of at least one guy in real life who has taken MDMA many times and never seen what all the fuss was about, even on his first trip with it. My thoughts are that these people's ability to focus on the negative is so extremely well practised that even extremely strong drugs cannot force them to judge an experience as "good".
The good news about this last point however is that I am confident the reverse can also be practised: focusing on the positive to the effect that even negative events are not even noticed or do not perturb the state of feeling GOOD.
This is what I believe Buddhists are doing when they focus on things like loving compassion. They are training themselves to release reward neurotransmitters even in response to events usually considered negative by most people.
On Friday before I went out, I was thinking about all the usual contingencies, of what I was going to do if X, Y or Z happened, when I finally just noticed myself doing this and said to myself "Do you know what? I'm not going to do this today. I am going to leave all these things to one side and just have a good time tonight, and not plan anything." I had a very good time and ended up bringing a girl back home. I didn't sleep with her, because I found out she was really good at piano and we stayed up all night playing piano together, which looking back is insane from the perspective of pickup and seduction, but from the perspective of going with the flow and enjoying oneself regardless of contingency, that is exactly what happened and I felt good about it either way.
On the nights where I instead do NOT put focusing on contingencies and reactions to one side, I can expect nothing to happen 99% of the time.
I realized from this that whatever you do regarding your own personal experience, feeling good is a choice we make. And when you feel good, all the other stuff doesn't matter any more. And when you feel good, other people feel good, and want to be around you.
Now this idea of making the choice is important, because if we go back to the triggers above (drugs, exercise, reward and mind-body exercises) we realize that all of those can fail IF we still choose to focus on the negative during our experience. We have all done things like taken drugs or drank too much and had "It didn't work!" moments where even that did not make us have a good time. In other words, the only thing tying the success of all these things together is the CHOICE to have a good time. The last trigger I mentioned, about working all day and deciding "I've earned it" is a prime example of this. So many of these things we do are simply EXCUSES which enable us to turn on "feeling good". Think about something like "If I just run this extra mile" or "If I just finish this project". Also think about tapping, NLP, and all this investment we make in mumbo-jumbo. Do they actually work, or do they just give us an EXCUSE to enter this state of feeling good? It should be clear from this post that I believe they are just an excuse.
The conclusion is that we should all come up with our own ways to create good feelings on purpose, and then CHOOSE to CONTINUE to feel good, and ignore anything except feeling good. Obviously some things are indeed important to think critically about, such as your finances and what not, but I am talking about general everyday vibes here, and particularly socializing, since feeling good simply turns off all anxieties and turns on charisma.
I have found that I can feel really good via some specific meditation I do where I close my eyes, sit perfectly still, then look for dark spots in my awareness and imagine them being filled in with white light till my entire awareness is lit up. There are several of these neurotransmitter releases that happen during this process which I know are happening because I get floods of white light, and start feeling really good. After this I choose to remain feeling good, and focus on the present so as not to focus on any imagined negativities.
When you are feeling good already, the state becomes easier and easier to maintain. The same way negative states are easy to maintain when they have a momentum; the inverse is also true. This is great news.
Another important thing I noticed I did on nights out and things when I was feeling good, is that in between talking and stuff, I would actually just focus on the good feelings in my body, and even close my eyes and just enjoy them. On the nights out where I wasn't feeling good, I would look for contingencies and focus on the negatives to find out why. Don't do this. Focus on the good feelings in your body instead. It makes them grow. This is why drugs are extremely helpful I believe. They give you strong good feelings to "latch onto". When you are stressed it can be hard to find some good feelings in your mind-body to latch onto and focus on. But if you do one of the triggers above (drugs, exercise, reward or mind-body exercises), you can find good feelings easily and focus on them. You can also do things like draw them up into your head and make them grow, and just start feeling really good. Importantly, the triggers should be done BEFORE you go out or whatever, so you already have some good feelings present to latch onto. I recommend we all have some triggers that come from the mind-body link so we don't need to rely on externalities for good feelings.
This, I now believe, is Circuit V in full. I feel like I understand Circuit V properly now, and whatever I wrote about it before was kind of like pieces of the puzzle.
1) Find reliable triggers for feeling good, preferably mind-body link so as not to rely on externalities.
2) Do the trigger while on your own, until you have a lot of good feelings in your mind-body. This is important, because if you go out already feeling good, it is a lot easier to latch onto those good feelings and maintain them. SMILE.
3) Make the CHOICE to just focus on feeling good. So anything else except the good feelings in your mind-body should just be ignored. This is a CHOICE. When in doubt, come back to the good feelings in your mind-body, and focus on them. I find breathing in through your nose while choosing to feel good makes these feelings even stronger. Feeling good will cause you to smile, stand up straight, and do all these other attractive, high-status behaviours. Completely go with the flow of feeling good, and do not resist these things. Allowing them to fully bloom causes this state to become extremely strong and long-lasting. SMILE.
4) Stay present in between focusing on good feelings. Since anything that happens while you are feeling good will be interpreted as also being good, it makes no sense to daydream.
When I am having a good time I am purposely avoiding things like mindfulness and equanimity because frankly these things make me feel like crap and LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.
|03-08-2011, 01:37 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: where don't I live?
Yep yep. Mirrors a lot of stuff I've been realizing on my own the last couple months.
I will say that I think you're misunderstanding the point of NLP a bit, here, though. You contend that it's an incomplete method because it only gets you to focus on the bad and remove your reaction, while not providing you with any real tactics to start feeling good. This has not been my experience with NLP. What I've gotten out of my sessions with people on these forums has been exactly your realization about feeling good: that it's a choice! And that perspective alone has been enough to seriously improve my well being.
Aside from that, your concept of "triggers" was particularly en pointe here. I would broaden that even more and say that all we need for a state change is a little distraction. Not even things that we know will "make us happy" (too much relying on externals), but knowing that getting up and doing something different will, without fail, at the very least help in shifting our state. That's another thing that NLP and other "wacky mumbo jumbo" do too, IMO. They introduce something zany to interrupt the pattern. I've found it to be quite effective, though admittedly not with the immediacy and instant results that are often advertised.
Anyway, good stuff, friend.
|03-08-2011, 02:10 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England, UK
I am going off-topic a little here. I am sure NLP has some great methods for teaching us how to make ourselves feel great. Defenders of NLP, please post your resources. This post is about learning to make ourselves feel good, an aim I consider of much more importance than focusing on getting rid of things that make us feel bad. If you check out the Emotional Mastery board, the majority of posts is people (in my opinion) WHINING about X, Y or Z issue. Think of how many hours of turmoil are being spent focusing on these issues when people could instead be feeling good and getting better perspectives on reality. If something really quite traumatizing has happened and someone is looking for support, I fully support that and I think it's important for people to feel supported. But posts along the lines of "Just feel so depressed..." just really piss me off. WHAT a waste of time and energy.
The main means through which they operate is DISTRACTION and STATE CHANGE, which provides an excuse and momentum for maintaining the new state. So you can give someone a placebo and tell them it's a drug and they'll start to get high. What happened? They already have the body-knowledge to feel good. We all do. They just got given an excuse to activate it.
So this post is simply about understanding this in-built body-knowledge we all have of how to feel good at will, understanding that until now you have likely needed EXCUSES to allow yourself to experience it, and with this understanding, decide you no longer need an excuse, and can feel good whenever you like -- NO STRINGS ATTACHED.
|03-08-2011, 02:30 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2011
The kinaesthetic is the final arbiter of your personal experience.
What this means is that however you feel in your mind-body at the time is going to determine your judgment of whether an experience is "good" or "bad"."
I'm basically going to replace "good" with engagement and curiosity, and "bad" with repression.
Let's take the mind out of the equation for a second.
You're happily putting golf balls across your living room rug. You're engaged.
Whether or not you feel good or bad doesn't occur to you.
A bear walks in through your front door. Your heart races. All bodily systems prepare for whatever will happen next.
The bear isn't interested in you and leaves.
Your body relaxes after awhile and you go back to putting, happily.
Now let's take the same situation with a mental reaction added to the mix.
You decide that your intense physical response to the bear was painful.
You want the pain to stop and you set out to make sure it never happens again. You repress you own reaction.
You buy guns, set up an electric fence etc. You're on guard for another bear everyday so you've stopped happily putting golf balls.
Here's a different mental reaction. You not only accept your intense physical reaction
but you wonder (curiosity) how it can help you to deal with your bear problem.
Since you're not repressing your reaction, you're more open, and curious, about all options for dealing with bears coming near your home.
You consider guns and an electric fence but you decide motion detectors that turn on bright flood lights is a better option.
You happily go back to putting in your living room.
"I am going to leave all these things to one side and just have a good time tonight, and not plan anything."
That, I think, activated your curiosity and engagement and that's why you had a fun Friday night.
The ghost in the machine is repressing your own experience.
"So what happens is people come up with all these zany ideas to stop things making you feel bad"
Any attempt to stop feeling "bad" is inherently an attack on the self, an attack on your own reactions.
Using any "therapy" to attack yourself will cause more problems than it solves.
"anything that has you visiting memories, or changing reactions -- really become redundant as far as feeling good is concerned."
Yes and no. If repression is an engrained part of a memory, then revisiting the memory with curiosity and engagement can remove the repression.
Achieving that removes the habitual anxiety response whenever you're reminded of the memory.
Revisiting a memory tends to activate engagement but not necessarily. If it doesn't than revisiting is pointless.
Drugs, exercise, meditation, etc. make you feel better but if you still have a habit of repressing the pain just comes back.
"The second most important realization in this post is the idea that feeling good is a choice we MAKE."
Well, yes but without a concerted effort to engage and accept, we tend to repress by default.
The antidote is engagement and curiosity.
Most of the above is from the book in my signature (that isn't showing up at the moment, it's. Core Catharsis)
From following your posts here and your forum I think you would find it interesting.
Last edited by buckeye; 03-08-2011 at 02:36 PM.
|03-08-2011, 02:45 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England, UK
Thanks buckeye, I'll check it out.
Right now I'm following this "feel good by choice" stuff through to the end and looking at these articles:
The opponent-process theory of emotion/ Getting Stronger
Cold showers/ Getting Stronger
This is especially poignant for me right now because I have started exercising regularly (at least one intense full-body workout per week, and running most days) and I've started developing this craving for exercise which kind of manifests as a burning desire to do stuff, which in itself feels good. The best way I can describe it is like a stimulant drug high, which craves the opioid release from the exercise in order to quell it. In fact I could not even get tired yesterday without going for a run. It's a bit intense and I'm not sure what to make of it at the moment.
|03-17-2011, 01:34 AM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2010
I like the focus here on prioritizing "feeling good" over achieving an excuse to feel good. Life is much like a drug where people find that since they felt good when certain experiences happen, they put a tremendous effort into replicating those experiences to get the good feeling again. Also they put tremendous effort into avoiding the negative experiences to avoid the bad feelings. As bukeye said, really asking yourself and understanding why you felt good or bad in certain situations opens up a whole new world of freedom. It frees you from relentlessly seeking particular situations rather than being aware of the kinaesthetic that really produces all the motivation.
I would not say that it is more natural to feel anxious then to feel happy. I would say that I'm only disturbed if something is dusturbing me, and if I'm not disturbed then I feel at rest. When I am no longer disturbed by anything, feeling content is all that is left. If I'm not feeling that anything is missing, then what problem could I possibly have with any aspect of my experience?
I also do not like interupts. I prefer to use curiosity rather than pattern breaking. I highly value experiences that are disturbing, because they are conscious and disturbing at the same time. Being consciously disturbed to me is priceless because I have noticed my tendancy to repress things that disturb me, to the point that I am completely unaware of them. When triggers are present that disturb me, I am given a tiny window to recognize that there is something that is actively being repressed. I prefer to use this opportunity to see what it is that I am so afraid of. It is never the thing I think it is. Since as you pointed out it's all kinaesthetic in the end, all fear is really fear of a feeling. When I become comfortable experiencing a feeling that I once had to avoid, then all fear is gone and I can relax. In my personal experience many emotions that I once avoided because they were considered bad, actually transmuted into something enjoyable to feel. If you get really technical, what is it that makes a bad feeling "bad" anyway? If I try to describe a certain feeling, good or bad, in terms of actual physical experience in my body, there really is no difference between good or bad feelings. They often feel like a buzz or a tension in some part of my body, but in terms of physical discomfort, even the most painful emotions are not really physically painful. If I only describe physical sensations I actually cannot tell the difference between really good emotions or really bad ones.
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