I have a very peculiar CV. Very few people get to see all of the pieces at one time.
For the first time in my life I’ve had to lay out the whole lot in support of a “business proposal”.
5000 or so ruthlessly considered words, dense words, words that are rarely found on the same page. The briefest total disclosure.
And the opportunity to play with neurochemistry. The moment I pressed SEND, my neurochemistry shifted from action to anticipation.
The physical experience swiftly became text-book anxiety. When “feeling”, it’s very useful to remember that the brain is only HQ for an extended nervous system, every nerve being a neuron. The digestive system is populated with more serotonin receptors than the brain itself, hence its influence over satiety. When anxious, serotonin is depleted, leading to the feelings we identify with impending doom. Under different circumstances, similar physical feelings are identified as hunger. In the days before 24/7 Megamarts, hunger was a very accurate indicator of impending doom. We have found new sources of anxiety, many irrational, but the mechanism remains the same.
One of the joys of my present existence is getting to play with prototype mind machines. One has a session that I call “Coma Catnap” – I haven’t heard it all the way through yet! Another machine demonstrates a very cool type of visual stimulus – WOW!!! Quietly dozed off last night to a mind-bending pseudo-random RGB light show and recall not a thing between then and my morning alarm. I get a real thrill out of experiencing such things with awareness that, as one of the first, I have to form my own opinion without access to any other.
It’s all in what you do with the physical feelings – interpretation. You can look at a cut on your finger, work out what caused it, how not to do it again and attend to the injury appropriately. You can feel a pain in your back and even without seeing evidence of injury, you can estimate its cause and decide what to do about it. All physical sensations are the same – they can be assessed, prioritized, dealt with and dismissed. My consciousness if the boss of all. If I tell my nervous system that I’ve checked, thanks for the heads-up, it’s all good, then that is just the way it Will be. Of course, if you check and it’s NOT all good, then doing what needs to be done becomes the imperative. The nervous system will persist until it is satisfied that the it is safe.
Emotional ”feelings” are what’s left when physical circumstances don’t fully explain physical sensations. We have the ability to apply any meaning we wish to a response to a stimulus. Sometimes when we’ve got long-practised responses it can take quite a bit of work to re-route the automatic cause-effect chain, but it is absolutely, consistently and reliably possible for anyone with a functional consciousness. The most useful automatic response to “feelings” to change is the habit of immediately categorising as Good or Bad, and then reinforcing by choice of descriptors, a most troublesome feature of our innate duality.
Feelings are just what our CNS does – love, anger, anxiety, fear, grief, and so on are just the descriptive words for a groups of sensations when associated with particular circumstances. Two important things need to be considered when confronted with feelings. One is that the descriptive words are self-fulfilling if indulged. The other is that the words have been largely defined by others whose experience of them may have no bearing on yours, and who, in many cases, may not have your best interest at heart.
I’ve enjoyed the feelings. Years of antidepressants made me forget what it feels like to have a full spectrum of sensation and response at your disposal. I enjoyed practising the principles I recommend.
I did what I could and I believe what I have done is right. At this point there is not another thing I can contribute to the outcome until asked.
And now I just feel ordinary.