There’s a great deal going on just below the surface.
The first time I experienced snorkeling was on my honeymoon, in Hawaii, 1999. If my memory serves, I enjoyed myself. Like millions before me, I also got a sunburn on my back. I took a day off to recover a little and went back almost every day afterward. The fish were colorful, amazed me with their designs, and most of all, they weren’t afraid of me. Of course, I had seen fish in aquariums, but until I had seen them myself in their natural world; until I put myself into the experience itself to see and feel what was there just below the surface, well. If you’ve snorkeled, you know exactly what I experienced.
This metaphor tells us that to fully experience anything means that we must be attuned with our feelings, first and foremost, otherwise, we simply have an intellectual thought. In our daily lives, we are continuously creating, experiencing, and emanating emotional energy. A public speaker deliberately creates positive and upbeat energy or excitement. A physician deliberately creates a calm and steady feeling to reassure her patients. Both act with purpose and with care for their audience. In Psychology, we refer to the way we move our emotional energy up and down as “self-regulation.”
Our individual thoughts, memories, expectations, and behaviors influence the energy’s emotional quality we create, experience, and emanate. Words, actions, and the quality of our relationships reflect the emanating energy that others feel and respond to – meaning? What we allow to go on inside our heads – and to a lesser degree, our bodies – produces our words, determines our actions and the quality of our relationships, maybe even the quality of our lives. We live and breathe in an emotional environment, not unlike the fish we see when we snorkel. Ultimately, we are “emotional energy-producing beings.”
Look below the surface – It can be beautiful
There is emotional energy or vibration in our bodies. We feel it physically. Commonly as stress or pain, pleasure, and relief. We sense it in our moods, emotionally, as anger and frustration, thrill and excitement. It shows up in our thoughts as we judge our experiences, plus our actions fill out our reality for us.
The thought “I am looking forward to our meeting” creates fond feelings of anticipation, a confident smile, a tall, erect posture, and a quick step to our walk. “I am probably going to get fired at my meeting this afternoon” potentially creates an anxious and fearful sense of dread, plus a slump in posture, a sad face, and a slower walk. Either attitude we bring will likely be noticed, perhaps commented on, and may even impact the way others will speak with us.
The purpose of the meeting itself does not necessarily change. With focus, effort, and practice, we can learn to influence the thoughts we have. We can select whether to bring optimism and confidence or anxiety and fear. We can emulate the same sort of power that both the physician and the motivational speaker employs. Just like controlling which program is running on our computer, we need to be in charge of which thoughts, beliefs, and expectations we allow to run. This can require practice as the thoughts we permit should be authentic.
Various activities can help align us or tune us into the underlying emotional world that already exists and may want to alter or influence. I have a preference for meditative practice. I sit in a comfortable and quiet location, close my eyes, and often enough, the first sensation that comes to my awareness is that I feel a little off-balance like a tall skyscraper, swaying in a strong breeze. I simply focus on this image and feeling (and this is an essential point) without judgment, just awareness and knowing. The knowing is that “this too shall pass,” and so it does.
My business, as a Psychologist, involves “transitions.”
on begins as I control the speed of my breathing. Then I insist that the pace of my thoughts match my breathing and also slow down. This process seems to make room for and allow simple, creative, positive thoughts to enter my mind. If it’s a struggle, enlist the assistance of your Psychologist. This process has assisted me by subsequently creating a reassuring feeling. I like to think that I align myself with all things in nature, with all others and their emotions. I sometimes feel the beating of my heart, but this meditative process always calms me down. Over the years, I have come to confidently expect that the meditative process will consistently provide just this type of result. In essence, I transition from feeling “a little off-balance” toward a new desired feeling of “calm confidence.” I’ve been reassured by the emotions that the process itself creates. I have moved along a continuum.
One more way that can help you to get just below the surface is to focus your awareness and thoughts on the meaning that you believe is attached to whatever particular thought crossing your mind. Discuss or reflect on your own past decisions and actions and tease out the meaning and purpose of what you did and your personal reason for doing so. Personal reflection is an excellent way to cultivate meaning and purpose in life. It can provide us with a rudder that assists us with our daily decisions. Just be clear that meditation and personal reflection are not the same processes; they are at two different ends of a continuum. Try one or the other, but not together.
Don’t be surprised. I told you a lot is going on just below the surface, and we can influence those things by utilizing our focused attention. As a result, the energy that we and others experience is changed to something efficient and productive. Just like the physician and the motivational speaker, we can do it too! We have more influence over our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors than we think. The emotional vibrations that I can feel when I sit quietly in a meditative practice influence or regulates how I think, feel and act later. It’s not a one-to-one relationship of control, but the energy I expend is, well, it’s worth the effort.