Today and yesterday should have been emotionally fine days for me, because everything about them was comfortable. Some good conversations with friends, a two-hour walk through the woods on a warm day with my best friend, excellent lunch and dinner at home, taxes finished and not too horrible. So what’s my problem?
It seems to be my thinking, reading, and writing about pessimism and depression has had a depressing effect on my emotions even though I feel comfortable while engrossed in those subjects as abstract thoughts. It stems from mentally putting myself into those emotions so that I can think and write about them better. It’s my mirror neurons kicking up an all-too-realistic emotional fuss. Just thinking about other people’s painful problems leaves me feeling drained and tinged with helpless feelings, because there doesn’t seem to be anything realistic that I can do. But here comes my cultivated habit of going into a nasty problem and then trying to find workable resolutions.
So, this despondency does have an upside, in that I have been thinking about my general theory of human maturation and believe I now have some doable exercises for people to enhance their emotional growth. In my human development study group we usually meet for two hours, and as part of that interaction we often do a group meditation. We have rotating leaders for these two hours, and I haven’t led for a couple of months, so it would be appropriate for me to volunteer to lead for one of the coming weeks.
My plan would be to conduct a meditation where we go through all seven of the maturity stages, and through three levels of stress, with the goal of cultivating proper habits for each state. The meditation would be explained first, because it will be rather unusual, and a little explanation would help people feel more comfortable while expressing some of the emotions for about ten seconds—that is just enough to feel that emotional state long enough to really experience it.
It would begin with a few moments of the usual relaxation mood-setting exercises. I would then suggest getting into a pre-speaking baby-like totally fearful mood for about ten seconds, then I would say to now move to baby-like alert and anxious for ten seconds, now set your emotions to be totally happy, joy-filled and searching. After ten seconds move on from baby-like emotions to a five-year-old childish fear and torment and hold it for a bit, then move on to childish anxiety and doubts, then to childish happiness and exuberant searching.
Now we will move to a ten-year-old adolescent, in total fear and failure mode of feeling personal worthlessness and social rejection. From there we go to adolescent anxieties of people thinking you might be okay and might be accepted, and then to ten seconds of self-congratulations, exuberance of personal perfection, and realization of the possibilities of idealism.
Let us move on to a twenty-year-old young adult in deep anguish about problems they can’t solve, debts they can’t pay, work that is unavailable and loss of everything they have worked for, then to the anxiety-stricken mode of doubt of competence and too many conflicting needs that must be met, and then to the joys of real success and having the things that prove one has made it, ownership of a home, and car, a helpful spouse and a career that is on track.
The next level would be a forty-year-old mature person, in despair because they have lost the things they value most and their community seems to have fallen apart, then to the anxieties of their group having problems that seem to be out of control, but there are some difficult fixes, and then to the satisfactions of seeing one’s whole community of things you have fostered coming into a fully functioning condition.
Next would be an eighty-year-old sage who would be seeking methods for all the levels of humanity to live long happy lives filled with real experiences of life, but being in a very low emotional state because large portions of humanity is dying and is emotionally terrified and shriveling, then to terrible anxiety but there are ways forward and some new perspectives for humans to explore that look promising, and finally to the sage filled with the knowledge that what they have created really is working, and all humanity and all life is prospering better than ever before.
Practicing all of the levels of human maturity shows one a way to go to a better place than where they presently are living.