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Neurocreator Magazine May 2015 - State Control

"I was asked to write an article on "State Control" which generally means how a person consciously controls their behaviour to maintain their "state". In this article I discuss how meditation can help people to gain real emotional balance, so that how they feel and how they act are congruent. I also discuss the damage that anger can do to a person."

Mark Zaretti, Meditation Teacher.

State Control and How Meditation Can Help with Anger Management Why "State Control" Is Not Necessarily a Good Long Term Strategy

By Mark Zaretti MSc

I've been asked to share my insights into "state control" but before we discuss "state control", whatever that may be, here is a little bit of background about myself so you understand better where I'm coming from. From my previous articles you may know I have trained in fields which could be characterised as "psychological" such as NLP, Provocative Therapy, Eriksonian Hypnosis etc. and my academic background was in biological sciences. For over 33 years now in parallel to this I have also been exploring the "meta-psychological" area of expanding awareness through meditation practice. Based on what I have directly experienced I have been teaching meditation to individuals and corporations for about 20 years now. I do not subscribe to any particular system or belief and opt for an experience based approach which I have taught to people ranging from complete beginners through to experienced practitioners of various systems including Yoga, Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation (TM), Mindlefulness, Hare Krishna etc. giving me a broad ranging experience to draw upon.

Whereas NLP and similar psychologically based explorations of mind, body and feelings certainly provide valuable insights, my own experience and those shared by many others indicates that certain forms of meditation practice can provide an even deeper insight into the nature of the human condition.

State Control and How Meditation Can Help with Anger Management

So lets start by breaking down the meaning of "state control". State control is to consciously, via the mind, control the state you are in. Your "state" at any given moment could be defined as "the sum of how your are physically (physiologically), emotionally, and mentally and the amount of awareness you have within that". Simplifying further, your state is created by how your are thinking, feeling and moving. Change any part and you change state. When a person describes a state as positive it usually indicates that the state is perceived to lead towards a desirable outcome, whether that be emotionally, mentally or physically rewarding in nature.

Let us explore a classic example: imagine a very shy, timid person who has to give a career enhancing presentation in front of hundreds of people. The desired outcome is career advancement based on delivering a great presentation. But their natural state would be one of anxiety, nervousness, fear and so on. Not a particularly useful state, and certainly not likely to produce the desired outcome. Note too that the language used to describe state uses emotional words. This person may work with a therapist, coach or do their own self help to learn state control to overcome their fears and hence become able to function better in that situation. We already know from NLP that we can install alternative states in a person via a number of techniques. Generally speaking though, state control is mentally overriding their honest feelings to elicit more positive feelings or to suppress the negative response to a challenge, in this case public speaking.

State Control and How Meditation Can Help with Anger Management

To control state a person may change their posture and movement (physical), and change how they are thinking (mind), for example changing negative internal dialogue like "What if I go blank? What if I look stupid?" to positive internal dialogue like "I'm going to do great!, everything is fine, I'm going to enjoy this". How they think (mind) and move (physical) will change how they feel (emotional). This is the basis of state control. Change the mental or physical and you change the emotional, because emotions always follow a stimulus.

From within meditation people can gain an even deeper awareness and connection to these components of being human. In layman terms, you can explore your physical body, emotional body, and mental body, and for each, have a stronger connection with and awareness of the energies and qualities associated with each. Maybe you are already exploring this in which case you may already know that meditation also provides the potential for people to experience what some call higher awareness, which includes intuitive awareness and importantly the realisation that there is a neutral space within which the mental, emotional and physical faculties reside. Through advanced forms of meditation a person can become one with this "space" or "stillness" such that they have an awareness completely beyond their physical, emotional and mental bodies. From this vantage point one has the potential to better understand the nature of thought, emotion and physicality because one is separate from it. From within the mind, body, and emotions one cannot see the whole picture, in the same way one cannot see the wood for the trees. Another advantage to those curious about self development is that this stillness/space provides more potential for changing the lower bodies because it is easier to change something when you have some distance from it and can see it from a neutral stance. When you have the ability to be separate from your mind and emotions you can, if you want, change them more easily.

"State control", which is a useful technique, is learning how to control your response, so that the behaviour is positive even if the underlying emotional response is negative. For me this is a complete cop out. Knowing the amazing potential people have to make real change, then relying on state control as a strategy is limited and potentially hazardous. State control is using the logical mind to override the emotional response. The behavioural results are real but at what cost? State control as an exercise has not addressed the underlying problem emotions and emotional responses. As a strategy it is shifting, avoiding, suppressing, masking and acting. Much like taking a tablet when you have a headache. Sure it has dealt with the symptoms but it has not addressed the cause in any way. Similarly the emotional energy still builds up even with state control.

To introduce an analogy, emotional energy is like water, it flows and has potential. It can be a gentle river or a raging torrent. If water builds up it puts pressure on its container. If a river is blocked then the water will find another way to flow, often with disastrous flooding. So when there are negative emotions like fear, anger, guilt, shame etc. the last thing you want to do is "state control" to avoid them and bottle them up. Emotional energy has to flow, and at some level most people recognise that it is unhealthy to keep negative emotional energy trapped within, as it will eventually eat away at us and make us sick. Suppressing, blocking, denying, and hiding emotions is not only unhealthy but is also incongruent with who you are. If you are feeling angry then you're feeling angry. If you are feeling scared then you're feeling scared. Acting like you're not, has not got rid of the energy of fear. At some level we have all been socially conditioned: "Don't cry", "don't show weakness", "put on a brave face", "there there there, no need for tears", it is as if society is scared of people showing emotions! Denying emotions will eventually manifest as mental, emotional or physical problems. You probably know someone that comfort eats to the point of obesity or who makes themselves "sick with worry" or who is "paralysed in life by fear" and cannot move forwards. It does not mean that it is alright if you are angry to turn into the hulk and smash things, but at the same time denying that you are angry is equally damaging. Anger in itself is not negative, it just depends on the context. There are times when anger is actually an appropriate response. It is only negative if a person gets stuck in the anger state. As an emotional energy, anger creates a lot of momentum for change. Often people only change or act when they get angry about something. The anger leads to action. Unfortunately if it is bottled up and suppressed then when it finally bursts out in an uncontrolled way it can be a real problem. But that is exactly the reason not to deny your emotions in the first place, they are going to have to come out so best to embrace them when they are small rather than waiting till they are big or have created a big problem in you. State control allows you to act a certain way by choosing your state and overriding your natural emotional response. It is however just an act. It has not dealt with the underlying uncontrolled responses to things. Once you have identified that there is a problem state, for example "when s/he says or does X I get upset and feel Y", it is a wonderful opportunity for a more congruent and integrated change process. "State control" is like putting a bandage over a problem but ultimately real change is like healing, so that X no longer triggers Y and instead the person has grown and changed for the better. State control is a stepping stone, it creates momentum for change by allowing a person to explore alternative states, but it is not an end point, simply a potential start point for a more holistic change process.

State Control and How Meditation Can Help with Anger Management

In modern thinking there can be a tendency to think of the body, emotions and mind as three distinct entities. We poke around and manipulate them with scalpels, therapy, pharmaceuticals and surgery. The physical body is tangible and mind and thoughts can be discussed and shared, but emotions are intangible, hard to describe, and private. Emotions for some have taken on an almost negative and derogatory status, at best avoided and seen as a fault or weakness.

Through meditative insights we can learn that the physical, emotional, mental bodies are not distinct but are actually integrated bodies, tightly entwined, and all part of a whole. Each is needed and equally valid. Meditation creates the potential for accelerated change, if the person has the desire for change. When looking at how we function in our lives and thinking of examples we know, I tend to find that those people that seem to be successful and happy are those who are emotionally, physically and mentally well rounded and flexible. There are plenty of examples of those who are successful in one aspect of their lives (business) but who are not able to express themselves emotionally and are generally negative despite their success. Others who are successful in the application of their mind, but are physically unwell because of emotional problems. For me success is not just growth in one way, but in all ways, being healthy in body, mind and emotions. A great mind is seen as one that can entertain and express many thoughts and articulate itself well. Similarly I would strongly propose that a great emotional body is one that is comfortable experiencing the full range of emotions without the need to block, suppress, or control, without needing to do "state control". Whenever we have a negative feeling in response to something it is simply an opportunity for us as integrated beings to learn, change, and grow. Feelings are feedback about our state and the healthiest approach is to evolve so that our natural response is the best one, making it unnecessary to override or hide our natural response through state control exercises. Who would you rather spend time with, someone who is genuinely happy or someone who is using state control to maintain a happy state?

You could write an entire book on this subject, so I've only scratched the surface here but hopefully it has provided an opportunity to dig a little deeper and challenge some assumptions about consciousness and state. Make of it what you will, because your own experiences are what matter most.

I work with people all around the world and to find out more about my work visit www.pureenergymeditation.com.

State Control and How Meditation Can Help with Anger Management