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What exactly is an Emotion anyway?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by gh2112, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. gh2112

    gh2112 Newcomer

    After reading this article I think TMS is perhaps not a repressed emotion, but the stress>pain linkage is an emotion itself. To me, that's a better way to describe it--since experts can't really agree on what an emotion actually is anyway.

    I feel sad, I cry. I feel angry, I rage. I feel happy, I smile. I feel stress, I pain. (for me that's upper back and neck pain). These human expressions exist in the body/mind. They exist in the place where the two intertwine.

    Therefore, with concentration, we can make ourselves stop crying when we are sad. It can be hard, but it's very do-able. We can calm ourselves when anger arises. And, with practice, we can cease pain when it arises too.

    I am a 10+ year Buddhist practitioner and student of Thich Nhat Hanh. And through dedicated practice I have taught myself to understand my anger and to be calm. (I used to be very angry). And with the right insight, TMS programs, teachers, and a dedicated practice, I have crafted a cessation from my chronic neck and upper back pain in much the same way.

    So as I might do with crying, when I feel TMS pain I look to my thinking. I explore the situation I'm in. As I get calm and concentrate, I notice the link between situation/thinking/pain. It's not helpful to aggressively attack the problem and "figure it out". When I'm calm and able to concentrate, insight arises. I become available to understand the holistic process that has pain at the end of it. I come to know the co-dependent causes and conditions for the arising of pain. In knowing, it ceases.

    Learning how to do that over and over is a skill. I have found that a solid meditation practice is very helpful. Teachers I like are: Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield.
    Norrie likes this.
  2. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    I like Dr David Hamilton's description...

    The 4 Components of Emotion

    Published on May 21, 2015 by David R. Hamilton PhD

    Most of us think of emotion purely as a feeling. We might feel happy or sad, for instance, or love, joy, or grief. But there is much more to emotion than a feeling. Emotion is really smeared all over and all throughout the body.

    The diagram below shows how this is so.

    Reproduced from ‘I HEART Me: The Science of Self-Love’
    Let me explain. When you feel an emotion, a pattern of brain chemistry follows it. For example, happiness is often accompanied by changes in serotonin, dopamine and even endogenous opiates (the brain’s own versions of morphine). If you then feel a different emotion, brain chemistry shifts to a pattern that reflects your new emotion. Brain chemistry alters in response to how you feel at any moment. So far so good.

    Your emotions also affect your muscles. You smile when you feel happy while stress causes your brow to crease and your shoulders to tense. These muscle movements are not conscious choices you make. They are like reflex reactions because your muscles are in communication with emotional centres of your brain.

    Emotions also play tunes throughout the autonomic nervous system (ANS). OK, they don’t actually play tunes but I like the sound of that expression. I basically mean that your ANS responds to your emotional state. This is why an emotion is technically smeared all over your body. Your ANS connects your brain to your heart and other organs in your chest, your abdomen and pelvis, and also to your eyes, larynx, and through your blood vessels and sweat glands to your skin.

    Via the ANS, your skin actually responds moment-by-moment to the contents of your mind. Let’s say you have a stressful or worrisome thought, for instance. Your skin starts to sweat. It’s quite obvious when you feel really stressed and your palms become moist. But even a little stressful thought causes micro amounts of sweating. In fact, this is the basis of the polygraph (lie-detector) test. When a person tells a lie and knows it’s a lie, the tiny (or large) amount of emotional stress they feel increases sweating. This is detected by sensors that measure the electrical conductance of the skin. When there’s sweating, conductance goes up!

    So you can see how emotions are connected with brain chemistry, muscles, and all throughout the autonomic nervous system. And the connection is ‘bi-directional’, meaning ‘both ways’. Just as emotions affect chemistry, muscles, and the ANS, so chemistry, muscles, and the ANS affect emotions.

    Here’s a few examples. That brain chemistry affects emotions is the basis for the pharmaceutical model of treating depression and other psychiatric disorders. If serotonin can be increased, for instance, it can cause a person to feel happier. Similarly, low levels of EPA or DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) following childbirth has been linked with post-natal (partum) depression where higher levels seem to have antidepressant effects.

    We can also use our muscles to affect our emotions. Straightening your spine, relaxing your shoulders and breathing comfortably can boost mood and confidence. Smiling on purpose can also improve mood. It is the basis of laughter yoga.

    Changes in ANS activity affect emotion too. The ANS has two components. There’s the sympathetic strand, which is the fight-or-flight part. It’s the bit that’s active when we feel stress or worry. Then there’s the parasympathetic strand, which is the rest-and-relax part. People who are stressed or worry a lot have more activity in the sympathetic portion and less activity in the parasympathetic portion.

    Conscious breathing exercises (like meditation, yoga, Tai Chi) are a good way to increase parasympathetic function, and with the increase in parasympathetic function we tend to see an increase in positive emotion, coupled with a decrease in negative emotion.

    So not only does emotion affect chemistry, muscles, and the ANS, but chemistry, muscles, and the ANS affect emotion. That’s what the double arrows in the diagram mean.

    You can see why we can’t actually disentangle emotion from the brain or body and that we really can think of emotion as ‘smeared’ all over and throughout the body.

    In some ways, we can start to think of the body and mind as a single thing – the bodymind – where changes in the mind affect the body and changes in the body affect the mind, with neither operating independently of the other, but rather operating as a single holistic entity.

    Norrie, mike2014 and Tennis Tom like this.
  3. gh2112

    gh2112 Newcomer

    This is cool. Thanks for posting. I think Dr. Hamilton's description further supports my hypothesis. Happy to have this.

    The hypothesis being, TMS is an emotion comparable to sadness, happiness, nervousness, etc.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, gh2112. I too like the reply Zumbafan gave you about our emotions. I never thought of them as being more complicated than how I feel about something at certain times. But it's good to know how they affect the mind and body and how the two work together. MindBody healing sure is catching on! I find that laughing gives me a wonderful positive emotion. It quickly drives away any anger, worry, fear. I often pretend something is funny and it works as good as really seeing or hearing something to laugh about.

    There are some wonderful videos on Youtube on laughter or laughing. One compilation of laughing people is especially "catching," as if one with Laurel and Hardy laughing.
    Zumbafan and gh2112 like this.
  5. gh2112

    gh2112 Newcomer

    Thanks. I know there has been recent research concluding that a psychological experience and a real world (actual) experience can bring about the exact same neural response.

    I like the baby laughing videos on youtube!!!
    Zumbafan likes this.

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