The Fire and the Flame
Even today, fire means survival. Whether real or emotional, it’s a necessary fuel for our daily actions. There is no fire without the initial flame, although uncontrollable fire can become dangerous, spreading and consuming anything within reach. There are two separate survival skills: starting a fire and then controlling it. Humanity’s ability to control and contain fire is one of the most important advances in our evolutionary history. With it, we could keep ourselves warm during the coldest periods; cook meat, killing germs and parasites and making it easier to chew and digest; and also defend against predators. By losing the fear of fire we were able to use the knowledge to our benefit.
Our actions are fed by our emotions – they move us in a particular direction. For instance, a feeling of injustice will drive us to create new laws, revolutionize the outdated political systems, innovate educational methods, even change our relationships. Is it a flame or fire that creates change? Sometimes I’ve seen a brain on fire, filled with the uncontrollable emotions that can destroy carefully planned and crafted lives in one moment. Ignorance only feeds that state, making us slaves to our emotions. It’s a great skill to be aware of our feelings and direct them toward the outcome we want.
Acquiring this awareness is knowing how to start and maintain the flame, but never letting it die. There is a sect of orthodox monks in Greece who believes that to dwell too long in sadness is a sin. Depression comes when there is no fire at all, and no ability to start it. Sometimes people need help from outside to rekindle the emotional heat that will lead them back into their own lives and in the world. But again, too much emotion and the inability to control it can simply transform a depressed person into an anxious one. Worrying about things (your health, finances, relationships, aging, the state of the world) without taking any action to improve matters will leave you in a state of anxious paralysis.
How do you recognize when someone is anxious vs. excited? From outside both people might appear the same, but one is flooded with positive energy while the other is in a state of in negativity. One has enthusiasm to help them endure, the other just needless angst, which drains the joy from life. In our experience, we see how—if not tamed—negative emotions will drive you to overeat and over-exercise, and you may want to skip the relaxation practice because your brain cannot stop thinking. Once you start recognizing the patterns you can intentionally use The Happy Body principles as a substitute for the old, ineffective behavior. The wisdom comes in eating just enough food – too much creates too much heat and the organs are inflamed. The same goes with exercise – too much will create inflammation that will take time to alleviate.
In The Happy Body, we recognize the need for the warmth and tranquility of the flame, not the raging fire. Otherwise, our life becomes the opposite: a race to put out emotional flare-ups and heal burns and charred landscapes. Our flame has to be controlled so we can create a good life.
What are the tools and techniques that help you contain your fire? Is there a way to flip your perspective when you realizing you’re having negative emotions, turning something negative into a positive force?
Leave your response below in the comments.