Applying TSK to Emotional Intelligence (EI) 2
Emotional Intelligence Best Practices Group
I'm planning, in the next year or so, on posting articles on some of the best emotional intelligence methods. For this I've created a new group, "Emotional Intelligence Best Practices." Feel free to join us. The following topics will probably be addressed:
To appreciate how various emotionally transformative methods operate, it is useful to be somewhat familiar with the spectrum of human consciousness. For this the following three articles should be helpful:
What Directions Can I Go with Emotion?
As we become more familiar with our patterns, we learn to recognize the early signs of an emotional reaction: a tight, physical sensation of excitement in the abdomen, which slowly spreads into the chest, causing a dense feeling in the heart or at times in the throat. Unless we can catch the energy at some point during this process, it will be followed almost immediately by an emotional response. (For more on the emergence of emotion, see "Radar of awareness.")
After an emotion has already surfaced, there are two ways to deal with it. One is to objectify the emotional response by blaming someone or something ( relating to the emotion in a dualistic first level (as described in "The Spectrum of Consciousness"). for the way you feel. Despite being a very, very common method for reacting to emotion, this way reinforces and escalates negative feelings.
The other choice is to go directly into the emotion, become it, discover it, feel it thoroughly, and calmly watch its nature. Rather than ask why, keep the feeling concentrated. It is important not to lose it. But it is also important not to think further about it or act on it; just feel the energy, nothing more. If you watch carefully, without involvement, you will see the emotion manifest in both body and mind and then dissolve into pure energy. . . ." (pp. 13-14, Hidden Mind of Freedom, Tarthang Tulku)
Just by sitting quietly and watching our emotional state without attachment, we become tranquil. No other instruction is necessary, even though it might seem that you, or the self should do more. Agitated, restless feelings are like muddy water, which becomes still and transparently clear when left to stand. As our emotional reaction naturally subsides, mind and body become peaceful and balanced. Sitting in the seven gestures (see "Sitting to Balance and Transform Emotion") may help even more to transform the emotion .
"There is nothing to interpret and nowhere to go. You are in the center of the experience, wholly focused on that one experience, which is all-encompassing. At that point, the identity of what you are feeling, and your own identity as well (often the self), have become irrelevant." (p. 154, Tarthang Tulku, Dimensions of Mind) Then this is very likely a nondualistic third level 'experience' as described in "The Spectrum of Consciousness"
Breathing, Emotion, and the Subtle Body
Many of the exercises in the "Emotional Intelligence Best Practices" LinkedIn group focus on the so-called subtle body, rather than the ordinary physical body.
Western knowledge about medicine and psychological development, among other subjects, is based mostly on the ordinary physical bodies that are born, mature during our adolescence, and serve as centers for our adult existence in the world. But centuries ago, numerous spiritual masters from various traditions discovered and taught additional knowledge they knew about the complex nature of the ordinary physical body. (The Secret Map of the Body: Visions of the Human Energy Structure, Yangonpa)
There are coarse, subtle, and very subtle bodies, inseparable from the ordinary body. In the genesis of the human body, we can say that the very subtle layer of the body generates the subtle layer, and that this in turn generates the coarse human body. . . . (The Secret Map of the Body: Visions of the Human Energy Structure, Yangonpa, pp. 43-44)
The subtle body makes it possible to change our mental, emotional, and physical states by changing the way we breathe. Even when very upset, we can calm and balance ourselves by breathing slowly and evenly. . . . This works because our breath is closely connected to three main subtle nerve complexes, the head, throat, and heart chakras within the subtle body.
The energy of `breath' is particularly associated with the throat center, which both evokes energy and coordinates the energy flow throughout the body. It is possible . . . to breathe in such a way that the throat center [chakra] becomes calm and functions smoothly. The way to do this is to breathe slowly and evenly through both nose and mouth, with the mouth slightly open and the tongue lightly touching the palate. (Kum Nye Relaxation I, Tarthang Tulku, pp. 34-40)
"Usually, however, the throat center is agitated, so this energy becomes 'blocked,' and does not flow properly. All emotional extremes and imbalances occur in this [agitated] state: heightened emotion, like anger or hate, as well as severe depression and lack of energy. Until the throat center settles and subtle energies are distributed as much to the heart as to the head [chakras], we cannot truly contact the senses or touch our real feelings." (KNR, pp. 38) Thus the key to changing all emotional extremes lies in the state pf the subtle energy of the head, throat, and heart chakras.
"Once this pattern [of agitation] is in force, it becomes self-perpetuating. Instead of experiencing directly, fully assimilating our sensations and integrating them with the feelings of the heart, we get caught up in patterns of thinking about an experience, labeling it and reporting back to ourselves on its nature. We thus reinforce the subject, the 'I,' [the self,] the one who does the experiencing, and experience itself becomes an object frozen into form and meaning.
"When we are in this state, our feelings are actually secondary feelings, interpretations of mental images that we then feed back to ourselves. We live `in our heads', subsisting on records of past experience, mental verbalizations unconnected to our true feelings. A feeling of continuous dissatisfaction arises, a subtle form of anxiety that we feel in the throat center [or chakra] as a kind of tightness. This tension manifests as the `self' reaching out for experience. As a result, the flow of energy to the head center increases, and the energy flow to the heart center lessens." (KNR, pp. 37-8) Thus desire, dissatisfaction, seeking, and the self itself seem to be other aspects of the imbalance of head, throat, and heart chakras.
This is the second article posted on the Emotional Intelligence Best Practices LinkedIn group, which you're welcome to join.
Balance and Manage Emotions via Breathing
Now let's put together the sitting posture, the balanced breathing, and the directions for focusing on a feeling. It can be helpful to set a timer for five or ten minutes, however long you want—a timer can relieve you of the need to track clock time, and just focus on the experience. Sit in the traditional sitting posture described at http://www.tskassociation.org/emotional-intelligence.html
Then breathe easily, gently, and smoothly through both nose and mouth, with the tip of your tongue on the upper palate just in back of your front teeth. Let the breath become more and more even and continuous, without breaks or jerkiness. This was described more fully at "Breathing, Emotion, and the Subtle Body" (above)
While sitting, go directly into any feeling that arises or is already present--become it, discover it, feel it thoroughly, and calmly watch its nature. Rather than ask why, keep the feeling concentrated. It is important not to lose it. But it is also important not to think further about it or act on it; just feel the energy, nothing more. This was described more fully at "What Directions Can I Go with Emotions" (left)
Afterwards, review your experience. Did it help to relax and settle your mind, body, and emotions?
Done extensively, the exercise can balance the throat center, where imbalance produces emotional extremes as well as pressure and anxiety about time.
However, it is important to work continually with the breath, or else the effects will not last: the body mind, and senses will slip back into an unbalanced rhythm. So practice this kind of breathing each day for at least three months; twenty to thirty minutes a day is helpful. . . . Once we learn to balance and accumulate energy, we can carry on this process day and night, not just at certain set times. . . . Later on we may not even have to make any effort at all to tap this energy of breath, for it is behind all physical and mental energies. (Kum Nye Tibetan Yoga, Tarthang Tulku, pp. 44-45)