Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hard Copy

Many people told me that they'd like to read Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Anxiety, and Other Emotions, but they hate reading e-books. Well, a year and a half later, the book is now available in hard copy. Here's the link:

A New Article on the Activating Breath Technique

If you want to read more about the activating breath technique--which is described in great detail in Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Anxiety, and Other Emotions--a large publication recently published my article about it. Here's the link:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Figuratively but Literally

A reader asked me whether the descriptions of the emotions’ containers mentioned in the book should be taken literally or figuratively. Obviously, these containers physically do not exist, so their definitions should be taken figuratively. At the same time, Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions is meant to be a guide for controlling one’s bothersome emotions, and as you follow the instructions you’ll feel an emotion appearing in a specific, dedicated area of your torso, which “contains” that feeling. So, from the subjective point of view of somebody who’s experiencing the appearance of a given emotion, the existence of containers becomes literal.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Unscientific Method

At one point, during my apprenticeship at a Buddhist monastery, the headmaster decided to help me get rid of my stutter. Considering that I had stuttered since childhood, and I was in my early twenties during my apprenticeship, I deeply doubted that the headmaster’s attempt would be successful. But to my surprise, by the end of the assignment that was supposed to cure my speech impediment, I realized that I no longer stuttered. A couple of years earlier, my teacher, at the same temple, decided to help me stop biting my nails, which I had been doing as long as I could remember, and I haven’t bitten my nails since she did it. Were their methods scientific? I highly doubt it. Would it be wise to have refused their "unscientific" help? I honestly don’t know. Over the years, my parents had taken me to different psychologists and speech pathologists, who used "scientific approach" to help me to get rid of my stutter. All I know is that if I didn’t let the monks help me, I’d still stutter today, and I’d also bite my nails.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Science behind Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions

Periodically, readers ask me about science behind Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions. I suppose I could make a case using the rhinencephalon and psychosomatic manifestations of emotions, but there are so many books out there that discuss these topics at length. Scientists have come up with great many theories, many of which are untested or difficult to use, and to an ordinary person who has an emotion or two that are bothersome, these theories can bring little consolation. These theories are, however, often fun and interesting to read about.
The angle and purpose of my book was to offer readers a practical method for controlling emotions. This method comes from more than two decades of my experimentation and hundreds of years of combined experience of several monks, nuns, and teachers who taught me over the years.
I’d like to point out that I’m not asking anybody to believe me. The book was designed as a guide for tracking down your emotions’ formation using mental experiments, as well as experiments with subtle movements and changes in breathing drawn from every-day observations. If you’re willing to try these experiments yourself--and I do encourage you try them--you should get at least some results either immediately, if the technique that you chose is simpler, or within a few months, if the technique appears later in the book.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Emotions on Top of Emotions / Mild to Moderate Panic Attacks

There’s one state of mind that makes emotion regulation more difficult than it should be. This difficulty comes from the person’s reaction to certain emotions, when a feeling triggers an emotional reaction. For example, when an anxiety attack triggers fear, the fear locks the anxiety, and the only way to get rid of the anxiety is to turn off the fear first. One of the most difficult mental states to deal with is when anxiety triggers anxiety—which is not that unusual—the state in which it becomes extremely difficult to compose oneself. Oftentimes, this mental state is called the panic attack. If the intensity of the emotion is mild to moderate, then for taking control over it, it should be sufficient to simply lean back in a comfortable chair while imagining the situation that triggers your anxiety. You need to stay perfectly still in relation to the emotion, particularly during the very beginning of its appearance. It takes about two months of half an hour every day practice to develop a mental gap between the primary and secondary anxieties. Once you split the two anxieties, you’ll be able to turn both of them, always shutting down the secondary anxiety first. In fact, no matter what combination of emotions you’re working on, the secondary feeling needs to be resolved first.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Locations of Feelings . . . Revisited

Several readers on different occasions asked me about a similar problem: They don’t feel the emotions described in Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions in the places in which those emotions should occur according to the book. For example, one woman reports experiencing sadness in her throat instead of her chest. Even though these readers’ experiences differ from each other, the cause of their confusion is the same.

When you picture yourself in a situation from your past or take it from your imagination, your mental and emotional state shifts from the state of relative comfort to the one reflecting the chosen situation. Now, when you want to ruin the same situation again so you can notice the very beginning of the emotional shift, you absolutely must let go of that situation and ensure that your mental and emotional states return to the original state of comfort. In fact, the greater the feeling of comfort you can reproduce, the clearer will be the shift back to the emotional reaction that you chose to examine or shut down.

If you don’t let go of the emotion completely before you imagine it again, the sensations that comprise that emotion won’t become turned off. As a result, when you recall the situation again, you won’t feel it appearing in your chest. What you’ll feel is spilling of that emotion to other areas of your body, such as the throat.

I hope this explanation isn’t confusing.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Feeling in the Head

A friend of mine asked me the other day how he can change what he “feels in his head.” To my surprise, his question wasn’t all that unusual. Another acquaintance asked me about a sensation of something being stuck in her neck. Someone else asked me what to do when a feeling is stuck in his shoulders.

If you observe your emotional responses to various situations, you’ll see (well, feel, actually) that no feeling ever appears in your head, neck, arms, shoulders, legs, or hips. We all experience emotions in our torsos. At the same time, some emotions cause secondary sensations.

For example, when we feel worried, our hands and voices can tremble; when we feel angry, our faces can turn red, and we can develop headaches, later on; or when we experience stress, we can feel tension in our upper backs and stiffness in our necks.

While stress is not a primary emotion but a reaction to an emotional irritant, it produces real somatic sensations of discomfort. It may take more questions and observations, but it’s highly likely that that my friend’s sensation in his head is a result of stress and/or suppressed anger.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thoughts or Feelings?

Did you ever wonder which come first thoughts or feelings? Suppose you carefully thought about a job offer in a different state--or even different country. On one hand, you try to be objective about your decision, and you consider all your thoughts regarding pros and cons of taking the job that requires relocation. On the other hand, however, what makes you even consider taking that job? Whether the reason is money, or advancing your career, or change of scenery, or something--in fact, anything--else, if you dig deep enough, you will find an emotion that triggered your thinking about that particular topic. Does this mean that emotions lead and thoughts follow? Well, yes and no.

Let's consider the very beginning of the thought/emotion process. Before you start thinking about anything or even forming an emotional reaction to it, you see a multitude of objects and situations in your mind and in real life. Few of those objects and situations attract your attention, and even fewer attract your interest. But what is interest?

Imagine seeing a house, a car, a career, or anything else that you wish you had. A mere instant after you saw it either in reality or your imagination, you feel a tickling rush of joy in the center of your chest. You experience this joy because to your mind, the moment you wished to possess or achieve something, you've already accomplished it. After you experienced joy in relation to the object or situation, you realize that you want to possess or achieve that something in real world. Now the question that you're facing is whether or not you want it enough to actually do something about it or you'd rather save your time and energy for something else. If you decide to move on, then you'll have a feeling of lesser or greater disappointment, or anger, or another feeling that will stay with you for the rest of your life. If you choose to after that goal, then your state of mind will be somewhat different. On one hand, you'll have the feeling of satisfaction if you accomplish the goal that you'd set for yourself, similar to the one that you had experienced when you felt interest at the very beginning of this cycle. But on the other hand, your accomplishment will always look and feel different from how you imagined it would, and they will include a smaller or greater number of trade-offs.

So in a nutshell, your thoughts and emotions are interlocked, and they all always rest on your mental attachments. (If you want to know more about this process and how to regulate it, read the chapter on Goal Setting in my book Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions.)