Happiness. Boredom. Excitement. Anger. Anxiety. Joy. Contentment. Sadness. Worry. Desire. Embarrassment.
These emotions, these states of mind, are all just different sides of the same coin (which would probably be a very weird looking coin now that I think about it). When we experience one or all of them, we become so immersed in their world, we can't see a way out. When we're happy, that's all we're thinking about - how good everything is and how nicely things are working out. But when we're sad or angry, we similarly can never see a way out of it. All we can think or feel is the sadness and the anger that seems to be drowning us.
And the worst part about any emotion, good or bad, is that we tend to keep finding things that support our already skewed state of mind. But, who hasn't experienced all of the above feelings at least once, and a million more after that, all a million times over? We all have. Because - and here's the important part - all of these emotions, all of these states of mind, are only temporary. They are not us, and we are never them.
Think about it. Even in your most pissed off, hating the world, angry times, you're always self-aware enough to realize, "I'm really really angry right now." But, is that voice, that self-aware thought, angry? Absolutely not. That inner narrator is there throughout every emotion and every up and down, but they never fall privy to the chaos. In yoga, we refer to this inner narrator as the Vijnanamaya Kosha. I’m not going to go in to what all of the Koshas mean right now, because that’s enough info for at least 5 good posts, but most basically, your Vijnanamaya Kosha is your wisdom, your intellect.
This is the most basic part of you that knows and decides what’s this or that, useful or not useful. But most importantly, the Vijnanamaya Kosha is not subject to your ever changing and constantly blinding set of emotions. He just watches.
I wrote something a few months ago, during one of my incredibly angry mind states. And I think it aptly shows my struggle between wanting to acknowledge the Vijnanamaya Kosha and everything I knew about my anger being a temporary state of mind, but also how I was still so overcome by the way I was feeling in that moment.
This anger is only temporary. I have to keep reminding myself. This is only a temporary state of mind. The burning sensation in my gut will pass, and the screaming picture reel on loop in my mind has to cut out eventually. Things change, and this mind state, this emotional hindrance is only temporary. I have to keep reminding myself or else I will explode. I will do something I regret, something that will make it impossible to return to that peaceful place of ignorant contentment I’ve made my home for so long.
It was easier when we didn’t talk about it, easier for this state of anger to feel as transient as my better half knows it is, just a piece of lint on the tweed jacket of my brain that can be picked off at will. Except, we messed it up. Words were exchanged – no, f**k that. We didn’t “exchange” anything. We chucked our words across this room built of glass and watched them shatter months of hard work creating our illusion of companionship. They were partial words, at best, but words all the same. We forced them out of our hearts’ warm and protective crevasses and spewed them into the harsh coldness of the world before they were ready. These words were our downfall. But, how can we place this amount of fault and blame on things so premature? They hadn’t grown the necessary layers of placating calmness or hope for reconciliation. They still boasted their proudly accusatory tones and a sharpness we could taste as they rolled so slippery off our drunken, eager-to-hurt tongues.
So, now I can only sit here and remind myself that my anger is not forever. It feels like forever, it feels like I can never forgive you – no, it feels like I never want to forgive you. And it feels like you never want to forgive me, like those partial and premature words will destroy us. Right here, lost in this deep seething hole of anger, I want to build a new home out of the blackness. I want to dig myself deeper and deeper into this pit of suffocating shadow until you have to follow me in if you want to get to me.
But then, I have to keep reminding myself. This anger is only temporary. I know this because there’s always another part of me, the previously mentioned better half, who never feels what I feel. She’s my silent observer, watching me closely, just waiting for me to notice her back. She’s always there, pushing me with her taciturn presence to let go and realize just how fleeting it all really is. So I always know that I know, but I have to keep reminding myself anyway, because I’m still so struck by why the darkness always seems so alive.
So go on, live, feel, experience, suffer, soothe – but KNOW that none of those feelings define you, and all of them will pass.