Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sources of Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions

I want to point out that the techniques described in Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions are not based on Buddhist sources. I suppose anybody who practices meditation from any philosophical or religious system can retrace the steps explained in the book, but the notion of emotions being part of regular organ function belongs to Taoists. While this relationship between organs and emotions is taught in most modern acupuncture schools that use Taoist philosophical approach that each emotion is generated by an associated organ, this concept is treated as a belief by modern-day mainstream practitioners, and few actually use it in their practices.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Difference in Psychological and Buddhist Approaches

If you look up research on meditation, you’ll most likely come across the term “mindfulness.” On one hand, the term’s definition is quite clear, ”Mindfulness is a characteristic of mental states that emphasizes observing and attending to current experiences, including inner experiences, such as thoughts and emotions” (Hill & Updegraff, 2012). This definition is similar to what some meditation schools (particularly Buddhist) aim to accomplish. But then the researchers’ focus shift shifts toward something confusing to me, “Mindfulness, then, may also be helpful in improving emotion regulation by increasing awareness, and, more specifically, emotional awareness of subtle differences between emotional experiences in the present moment” (Hill & Updegraff, 2012). The problem with this approach is that once you shift your attention to your emotions, you instantly lose your mindfulness. While the researchers do emphasize the importance of paying attention only those emotions that you experience in the present moment, your emotions represent only a fraction of your experiences in a present moment. At the very least, your mind in order to be full should include at least three types of experiences: 1) your body’s movements, 2) everything you feel, see, and hear from the surrounding environment, 3) your thoughts and emotions. The researchers then discuss the effects of emotion labeling (which, for some reasons, they continue calling “mindfulness") on emotion regulation. They state, however, “it is well known that Buddhist meditation is thought to improve emotional awareness and control by learning to focus one’s attention on aspects of emotional responses,” which is simply false. I never heard of a Buddhist method that would set a goal “to improve emotional awareness.” But I’m not writing this to argue; I just want to point out that once you start to focus on your emotions, your mind latches on to it, making it increasingly difficult to move on to other things. It may seem beneficial at first, because you distance yourself from a troublesome emotion by analyzing it, but after that you’re stuck with that emotion not only on the emotional but also on the mental levels.

            Buddhist approaches vary depending on school of thought, but one of the most commonly used methods is mantra. I met monks and nuns from South Korea, India, Burma, Tibet, and Japan who use this type of meditation. Essentially, the method of mantra allows you to create an independent from your attachments (which are all those experiences that trigger an emotional or mental reaction from you) point and to solidify it by training to concentrate on that mantra 24/7. The details on how to use mantra can easily get overwhelming, but basically it allows you to observe all and any experiences coming and going through your mind without discrimination, that is, it helps you to train yourself not to pay more attention to your emotions than to the little dot on the floor that you’re staring at when you meditate.    


Hill, C., Updegraff, J. (2012). Mindfulness and its relationship to emotional regulation. Emotion,             12, 81–90.    

Monday, December 2, 2013

Emotions and Chemistry

I had an interesting conversation with a psychiatrist a few days ago. “You can do anything you want with emotions,” he said, “it won’t matter, because it all boils down to brain chemistry, and unless you take care of that chemical balance, certain emotions will persist.” On one hand, he’s right. When some hormone is secreted in deficient or excessive amounts, a person would experience certain changes in his or her emotional state. But on the other hand, if a person doesn’t experience one persistent emotion for a long time, it means that his or her emotional state naturally switches. And if it does, then the body and mind have mechanisms to regulate them and the chemistry of the brain.

For example, suppose you feel sad. Even if this feeling persists for a month, every day, it still can’t be the only feeling you’ve been having. Whether a telephone suddenly rang or a pot fell and startled you, or you felt very worried because you were running late for work, or you saw a magic trick that really surprised you, in any case your body and mind switched your emotions. I’m sure that chemistry was involved in all these emotional shifts, but obviously there are built-in mechanisms in our bodies to regulate that chemistry. From my experience, it’s amazing what your body can naturally do, the only thing is, it often takes some practice to learn how to use these mechanisms. But it’s well worth the effort, or so I think.

Of course, if a person can no longer switch his or her emotional state, it means that there's something wrong with the mechanisms that switch emotions. If this is the case, then that person needs professional help. The methods described in the book won't help, because they work through the mechanism that naturally switch emotions.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

New Article

Tathaastu magazine recently published my article “Emotions, Breathing, and Stress,” and as I was flipping through the magazine, I stumbled upon an article by Deepak Chopra! Perhaps it’s not a big deal, but I feel kind of flattered to have my work published next to Dr. Chopra’s. Here's the link:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Turning Off Stress

Did you ever feel like you have too many thoughts that don’t let you relax or even sleep? I heard about this problem from several friends as well as patients. More often than not, these thoughts tend to be dark. They seem to be fueled by our fears and anxieties, but their cause can also be stress or simply too much work. While there are many possible ways to get rid of these thoughts, I highly recommend using your body, in other words, exercises. But before you decide to start jogging, let’s look at it a little bit deeper.

When you feel stressed or have an emotional state that you wish you didn’t have, try clenching and unclenching your hands. For our purpose here, it won’t matter how fast you do it, how tight you make your fists, or whether you fully extend your fingers. What’s crucial is how long you do it without interruptions. During the first, say, 100 repetitions, your emotional and mental states will remain unchanged, but once your hands and forearms begin to get tired, they will attract your mind’s attention. At this stage, your thoughts will struggle to continue racing, and occasional thoughts will be about the strange and seemingly pointless exercise that you’re doing with your hands. Your mind will make you stop doing the clenches-unclenches, and your hands will become progressively weaker. If you don’t stop, however, and continue bending and then straightening your fingers, you will soon reach a threshold during which your hands your hands get unbearably tired and your thoughts will slow down. Just moments later—provided that you don’t interrupt your exercise—you’ll break into sweat, and your mental and emotional states become clear.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dealing with Loneliness

One reader recently asked me if there’s a way to reduce the feeling of loneliness. She pointed out that she did not find it in my book.

While the reader was right: Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions has no chapter dedicated to loneliness, but the book categorizes emotions into eight groups, according to where we experience them in our bodies, which is the topic of the first chapter. In a nutshell, these eight areas include all possible feelings that humans can experience. But how can you decide which area of your body does a particular emotion belong to? You can use the same approach that is used throughout the book: observation.

If you have ever experienced loneliness (and probably you have), simply recall that situation from your memory, and observe where you feel the sensations that your mind interprets as loneliness. You should feel it in the sides of your chest. From the book’s standpoint, whenever you experience an emotion in your lateral chest, that feeling belongs to the sadness category. This means that you can use any of the techniques for sadness described in the book to modify or turn off your loneliness.   

Monday, January 7, 2013

Boosting Confidence

I guess the title of my book doesn’t fully describe its content. More than once, I heard this question: I don’t understand why would anybody want to control their feelings? Just the other day, a friend of mine asked me this same question. Later, the same friend complained that he wishes he’d have more confidence. Probably, you wouldn’t necessarily classify confidence as an emotion, but from the book’s standpoint, it is a feeling. +If you wish to use the techniques included in Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions to boost your confidence, then experiment with the techniques to diminish anxiety. You’ll see (or, rather, feel) that once your anxiety disappears but you continue applying the same technique further, you’ll be building your confidence.