Why am I in a mood?

“Why am I in a Mood” is the first in a series of Mind/Body Articles by Anamaya’s Graham Doke

It seems the oddest thing, suddenly finding ourselves in a bad mood. We may unexpectedly snap at a colleague, suddenly find a traffic queue unbearable, the radio irritating, an endearing habit of a loved one wildly annoying. Why?

Now, emotions are a complicated area, but there is one source of a bad mood that is quite simply evolutionary - or, should we say, a misuse of an instinctive survival tool.

When we encounter an obstacle in our lives, any sort of a setback or threat to what we want to do, we automatically search our memories for similar events, so we can review them and see how we came through them in the past. 

In our caveman past, say, if we came across a sabre-toothed tiger eyeing us up for his dinner, we would look back to other encounters for survival strategies. We need to remember how we survived this hungry and excessively toothed beast in the past. 

In the same way, if today we feel, say, that a relationship is floundering, we will automatically look back to other similar situations for strategies. Or, if our job starts to become unbearable, we will look back to similar situations. We actively search through unpleasant things in our past.

This is not a conscious reaction to setbacks - it simply happens. But we can end up mired in unpleasant memory - hey, who wants to relive every horrid thing that has happened to them? But it happens, all of our bad relationship experiences suddenly come to the fore, every unpleasant experience. It is not surprising that this can produce a bad mood.
But, it does not have to. You can avoid sinking into a bad mood simply by being aware.

Thinking is a process. Reviewing your memories is thinking. Awareness is very different. You can both review your memories - think - and be aware of what you are doing, and why. You can become aware that the process has a purpose, and the purpose is not to produce a bad mood! 

So, whilst when the time comes you will automatically start a memory review for the last hungry sabre-toothed tiger you encountered, if you tune up your awareness, you can avoid falling into a mood.

Quite simply, if you become aware of your thoughts, if you are aware of their purpose, and if you are aware of their potential effect on you, you have taken one step away from being a victim of them - from falling into a mood. You are the observer, you retain control.

The best way to become aware is through concentration. If we hold concentration on one thing, we shut off the constant noise in our heads of plans, memories, observations and the like. We hold our minds on one thing. And as we do so, we observe that our mind throws up thoughts. It gets bored with the one topic, and throws up a memory or a plan or an image, almost as if to say, ‘Hey, I’m bored. Let’s go play with this.’

And, we can observe this, we can be aware of our thoughts.

As we get better and better at concentrating, we get better and better at refusing to go out and play, at simply holding the one image. And becoming aware of those thoughts that our mind throws up.

Concentration is simply meditation.
Regular practice of meditation, then, is one way in which to avoid those horrid, draining moods. 

And so we are commencing regular weekly meditation classes at Anamaya, one in the mornings to get a good start on the day, and one mid-morning after the breakfast rush. Call Reception on 020 3011 0355 for details.


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