Brain Refreshing: Working Skillfully With Emotions


Let me tell you a story that comes from ancient Korea. A Buddhist monk was traveling on foot to a distant land, and as night fell, he grew very weary. Exhausted, he stumbled into a pitch-black cave and decided to stay the night.

In the darkness, he felt his way along the floor of the cave and found a small bowl filled with the most delicious and refreshing water he had ever drunk. His thirst thoroughly quenched, he lay down and slept deeply. He awoke in the morning feeling refreshed.

But in the early light that dimly illuminated the cave, to his horror he saw that the bowl he’d drunk from the night before was actually an upturned human skull, filled with brackish water.

Suddenly, the thought of the delicious water he’d consumed only a few hours before made him sick to his stomach.

Startled by this experience, the monk was enlightened about the nature of perception and the power of the human mind to transform reality. This monk, Wonhyo, later became a significant figure in the Korean Buddhist tradition.

“Brain refreshing” is the process of discovering — like Wonhyo — how you can free your mind of limiting negative preconceptions and emotional residue from past traumas. The goal is to have a more positive state of mind and greater, more productive control over your emotions and thought patterns. This step is designed to develop three important skills.

The first is to become fully aware of your emotions and moods. The second is to clear troublesome, harmful emotions from your mind. The third skill is to change long-term temperament patterns. Brain refreshing is an exciting and liberating component of “brain education” — one that offers true freedom from the past and ensures that positive change is always possible.

Working Skillfully With Emotions

Before we proceed, I want to be very clear: life would be pale indeed without emotions. When you imagine a life without laughter, excitement, apprehension, or sorrow, it’s flat and formless — it hardly seems to be life at all. In your own life, isn’t it clear that you bring valuable emotion to the most important decisions you make?

You seek strong relationships, success, and money in large part because you desire the emotional experience of being loved, respected, and secure. At their deepest core, humans want to be joyful, and rightly so, because joy is the most sublime of emotions.

Yet emotions can also lead you to make decisions you regret; they can prevent you from seeing an issue clearly, and even paralyze you with fear when you clearly need to take action.

Even though you know that emotion arises within your brain, you may tend to look outside yourself for its source. “My husband makes me angry,” you might find yourself saying — or alternatively, “I love it when he brings me flowers.” But neither flowers nor husbands are inherently good or bad. You experience them in a positive or negative way far more because of you and the state of your brain than because of them.

brain refreshing

How you react emotionally depends entirely on the preconceptions and expectations existing within you. While you may be able to empathize with others, and they with you, ultimately your emotional experience is unique to you.

Here’s another example. Imagine that your car is in the shop and you’re forced to walk the two miles from your house to work. If you’re running late, on edge about tasks that must be done, or wearing uncomfortable shoes, your anger and frustration may increase with every step. But if you’re relaxed and comfortable, and have time to enjoy the fresh air and exercise, your walk may be quite invigorating. It may remind you how good it is to get out of your car.

These two quite dissimilar experiences have nothing to do with the blocks between home and office somehow having radically changed from one journey to the next. The only changes are emotional and attitudinal — and they come entirely from within you.

The important lesson is that when you look outside yourself for the source of your emotions, you surrender your personal power by believing you’re at the mercy of external circumstances.

But when you look only to yourself as the source of your emotions, your focus shifts to something over which you do have control. You can’t be in command of external events or other people, but you can play an enormous role in determining how they affect you emotionally.

You May Also Like

Why You Need A Primary Care Physician
Taking The Best Care Of Your Teeth (Oral Health Matters!)

Sponsored Link

About Us

A magazine dedicated to the brain.

We believe that neuroscience is the next great scientific frontier, and that advances in understanding the nature of the brain, consciousness, behavior, and health will transform human life in this century.

Online Education

Stay Connected