Whenever we as explorers discover something new, the very next question that typically arises is, “Why is it this way and not some other?” I shall have more to say about this in later articles, but at this point I think it is important to give you a preview.
Each feeling part fulfills a specific function in the whole of the self. Its job is to monitor a particular dimension of your experience, and to provide you ongoing feedback about your state of balance with respect to that dimension. When your highest good is being served and each dimension of your being is in balance, you experience optimal well-being. You are bathed in ideal feeling states. You feel good.
Good feeling states tend to be large, whole body states that blend into one another. There’s not a whole lot of clear differentiation among feelings when you feel good. It’s more like one big ocean of bliss.
But when things get out of balance, look out! Each feeling path crystallizes out of its ideal state into specific reactive states. A reactive state is uncomfortable, distressing. It is meant to call your attention to a specific way that you have fallen out of balance. And it’s meant to call your attention to it right now.
A reactive state also has the characteristic of distorting your thinking and your perception. You will see, hear, and kinesthetically feel the world with heightened sensitivity to the source of your imbalance. If there’s a threat and you feel fear, the source of the threat looks bigger than it otherwise would, certainly bigger than an objective measure of it would indicate. That’s because this threat must be dealt with right away! All your attention must be mustered and focused on dealing with the threat.
The entire purpose of the distressing, reactive state is to help you identify the source of an imbalance and correct it. When everything is operating as it should, this is exactly what you do. You see the threat, (you can’t miss it). You retreat and protect yourself or advance and confront. You take action to remove the threat and return yourself to comfort and well being.
But don’t mistake this for emotion. It’s not the same. The feelingmind operates on much more sophisticated terms. It is highly sensitive to complex social and environmental information that is beyond our simple emotional machinery to process.
Emotion is for survival, and it can’t be beaten for that. It kicks in instantly, and we don’t need awareness for it to do its job. Our bodies are immediately mobilized and prepared to deal with threats, losses, opportunities or satisfactions for core survival needs.
Feeling, on the other hand, enables us to navigate the far more complex universe of social reality, of creativity, of spirituality and more. The feelingmind is able to process a great deal of information that lies far outside of our conscious awareness. It is fully available to consciousness when we turn our attention to it, but most of the time that kind of awareness is unnecessary.
One thing to keep in mind with all of this is that our normal experience living in this society does not reflect our natural experience of a feelingmind operating at its optimum. Our natural experience is to be very sensitive to small deviations from balance, and to respond effectively to restore balance relatively quickly and easily, far before things reach an extreme state of distress. When we are operating in the zone of our natural functioning, we take care of meeting our needs gracefully, elegantly, with hardly a thought. It’s just part of living.
When we’ve suppressed the natural functioning of the feeling mind, however, it’s a whole different situation. Instead of the natural grace in meeting our needs, we find ourselves oblivious to our needs until they become so intense that they can no longer be denied. Then they wrestle us to the ground with their demands and wreak havoc on our lives.
The feelingmind is elegant and wise beyond anything our conscious, rational mind is capable of. And it works beautifully if we don’t interfere with its natural functioning. You’ll understand more about what I’m telling you once you’ve mapped and moved a few dozen feeling states.