A deep dive into actually FEELING emotion as part of the process of awakening.
02:26 Consciousness as a movie screen vs. the story of our lives displayed on the screen
09:24 Why the sense of separation returning can make things feel worse after an experience of expansive presence
14:58 Awakening and repressed emotion, the shedding of inauthenticity
20:18 How and when to investigate the source of emotions
22:38 Untangling thought from emotion, dealing with habitual fixations, thought storms
27:55 Resistance to emotion vs. surrender and acceptance
33:00 The effect of meditation retreat on emotion
35:48 The standing wave of thought identification and the pandemic of emotional repression
42:03 Zubin’s post retreat experience of thought and emotion
44:40 The effect since our first shows on awakening, the way out of suffering
48:14 Wrapping up
[Zubin] Hey, guys. So, this is another episode of our series on awakening, really getting to the roots of why we suffer, and how we can get past suffering in this lifetime. It strips away all the woo-woo spiritual nonsense, and really just cuts to the heart with Dr. Angelo Dilullo. He’s an anesthesiologist, written a great book called “Awake: It’s Your Turn.”
I care about this probably more than anything else I do videos on, and yet, it is probably the least generally accessible type of content that you can find, so we’re trying to change that because it’s crucial. So many people, myself included, are trapped in mind identification, in thought, repressing emotion, not understanding our true nature, what we actually are, and there’s a way out of that and it simply involves looking.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian and you’re devout, and you’re religious, you have faith, you’re an atheist, you’re a scientist, you’re a skeptic. None of that matters, because this is just a simple and direct process of looking at our minds and trying to relieve suffering.
So, in this episode, we’re focusing on emotion, how humans are conditioned to repress it, the relationship between thought and emotion, thought storms, anxiety, the waking up in the middle of the night with that feeling of tension and emotion, and how do you, how do you kind of deal with that? And then, looking at the nature of what ultimately we are, which is the conscious space in which these things arise. So, without further ado, now, one word of warning.
These kind of conversations can trigger certain perceptual shifts in people who are sensitive to this, and it can be a little disorienting, so be warned that there’s nothing that you will experience that you don’t ultimately have the ability to deal with, but for people who don’t wanna undergo this or aren’t interested in this, just turn it off and go watch a video that I’ve done on COVID, or a music video, or something else. All right, without further ado, Dr. Angelo Dilullo.
– [Zubin] Angelo, welcome back.
– [Angelo] Oh, thanks for having me.
– [Zubin] Dude, so okay, since the last time we did a series of shows,
– a lot of people have reached out because they’ve been doing what is in your book, “Awake: It’s Your Turn”. By the way, you guys, if you don’t get this book, you’re asleep, that’s wrong. That’s not true. But the book is a really direct pointer to this idea of realization. Like, what is your true nature? What’s going on right here and now? People who’ve reached out who have been doing some of the stuff, one of the biggest questions they get, and it happens to me too, is there’s this feeling that you can experience aspects of what you’re pointing to in the book, on unfiltered reality or presence, or… What’s actually happening right now, without a lot of the conceptual filters that the mind throws on. But then, the very next minute or hour or day, it’s the most painful kind of contracted, I’m back to where I was, struggling as this separate thing against the universe. And it feels worse than ever. Am I hopeless? Is this, what am I doing wrong? Like, why is it like this? And I kind of have a sense of my own path on this, but I would be curious how you talk about this, because people, in some ways, it actually has triggered people to say, “I’m not gonna do this anymore “because it’s actually making me worse.”
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] How do you think about this?
– [Angelo] Well, I’ll use an analogy that can be helpful. If you imagine you’re watching a movie on a projected screen like you’re watching it in a theater, and you’re interested in the story. You’re watching the characters, and you’ve identified with one of the characters. You’re the main character, let’s say. You just sort of identified in that way. You’ve sort of forgotten that you’re in the theater, you’re just absorbed. You’re enjoying the movie, but you’re hanging on the next scene or the next event that’s gonna happen. And you have a sort of emotional buy-in, let’s say, right? And if I’m sitting next to you, and suddenly, I jerk you out of that perception that you’re sort of enmeshed in the movie in the story. And I say, “Hey, look at the screen.” And you’re like, “What? “I am looking at the screen. “I’m watching the movie, quit interrupting me.” I’m like, “No, no, no. “Look at the screen itself.” And you say, “Well, I am looking at the screen.” And I say, “Yeah, but you’re believing “the movie on the screen. “I mean just look at the screen itself. “Aren’t you curious what the nature of that screen is? “What is it made out of that it can reflect these stories, “that it can sort of “accommodate all the different movements “of the storyline and so forth, “and yet, it is completely unchanged itself. “Isn’t that interesting, yeah?” And if you hear it the right way, and we’re not talking about it in the exact context I’m referring to, but actually in your life, and I say, “Hey, notice all those thoughts. “Notice all those narratives about who you are, “where you’re going, what you fear, “including the narratives “that you don’t even wanna look at.” Like there’s parts of us that we feel like we are not in contact with, or don’t wanna be in contact with. Or an invasive thought comes and we distract ourselves with another thought, another storyline. But all of that is the storyline. That’s the sort of the story on the screen, the content, but aren’t you curious what is like the carrier wave of that? What is it that makes it possible for you to even experience that at all, that internal world? Isn’t that kind of strange? Like, shouldn’t you investigate at least one time in your life what is it that’s doing the storytelling? What is the nature of that screen, that internal screen in your mind called consciousness, that I’m gonna call consciousness, but don’t label it, just find out what it is. That’s what I mean by look at the screen, look at what it is that sort of carries that storyline, but it itself, never changes at all. Isn’t that interesting? In fact, you can look at it and almost ignore the storyline and you just see shapes moving, and you know, hear the internal narrative, but you kind of tune out a little bit from holding onto every turn of the story and every word. And you’re actually staring directly at that screen of consciousness and realize, wow, it’s always there. And it’s always exactly like that. It has a certain pristineness and unchangeability of itself as itself that’s always there. And then, what ends up happening often, when I point that way or when somebody does that, however they do that, it actually comes with a kind of release. It comes with a sort of opening feeling, a feeling of, “Oh my gosh, I was so ingrained in that story. “I sort of felt like I was at risk the whole time, “or I had to get it right,” but it’s not so much like that because I actually feel more intimate and more directly in contact with the whole screen itself, the internal world of just pure being, being me, not being in some mystical way, but being in who I am right now. What it feels like to be me, not contingent upon any story at all. And sometimes you just get a little taste of that. And sometimes you actually, your identity shifts, and it finds itself as that pretty much at all times. And with that, which I might call awakening, comes a big release, a big dropping away of a lot of baggage, a lot of heaviness that we’ve been carrying for so long, that we didn’t actually realize how much heaviness we’ve been collecting and carrying. So, as I said, it doesn’t always drop away that dramatically, especially right away, but those little shifts in perception where you’re actually not looking at something that’s not here, you’re looking at something that is here. It’s just closer than what you’re used to looking at, or it’s more primary than what you’re used to looking at. And that taste feels more real than real, or it feels more undeniable than the storyline. Once you taste it, you know it. So then, what happens is your focus just goes back to the story often for a while. And then, it’ll fluctuate between the story and the screen, between the thoughts and consciousness. But when you taste that consciousness here, you know, and then, the story starts back up, and then you taste it here again, what happens is you start to attune to it. You start to realize like, “Oh, I can actually sort of remain there, “even though the story is playing out, “and I don’t have to get so attached to the story, “the internal dialogue of past, present, future, “my problems, my solutions,” and so forth. And with that, there’s a sort of release that can be ongoing. And so the answer to your question, ultimately, is just understand that what you experienced when you experienced that presence, that depth, that expansiveness, that release never went anywhere at all. In fact, it’s actually, primary or more fundamental than the sense of the one who came back into contraction, let’s say, contracting into a small sense of a mental self, that’s sort of playing on the screen, but the screen never went anywhere. You’ve never lost anything and you never could lose it. That’s the really good news about this topic is, what you wake up to is so primary, so simple, so obvious, so undeniable, that it’s a tremendous relief from being attached to the story of struggle, which most of us, if not all of us, are attached to a story of struggle, whether we know it or not.
– [Zubin] So that, yeah, yeah, yeah. This is so, it’s… The idea that there is a, a fabric on which all these stories are written. The language label I use is presence. I mean, I feel it now. It is the, it’s the, it’s the awake screen on which our story is playing out. And what I find in my own practices, when I tune into that screen, there is that feeling of, release of, it’s almost a kind of a tension that I’m holding when I’m lost in the story that’s on the screen. And that back and forth, going from that kind of sense of connecting to presence as a pervasive, underlying fabric of everything, and it’s almost like time drops out. Like, there’s just this, what’s happening, just this. But when, it almost feels like it relaxes back into, although it’s not a relaxing, it takes energy to do it, into, “No, actually, I’m Zubin. “I got stuff to do. “My kids are screaming, the nanny quit.” Like, I gotta go do stuff, and now, I’m feeling anger, but I don’t wanna feel anger. So I’m gonna push that down. But now, I’m like, tense, and the sense of separation comes right back. And it almost, it’s almost worse in a way, how it’s experienced, because the contrast with that underlying current is so dramatic. It’s very hard to even talk about this actually, for me.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] Yeah, and all I can point to is my own experience. But what people have mentioned to me is they feel so discouraged when that happens, that they want to stop whatever their practice is or whatever their inquiry is, even though they’re suffering.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] And what I struggle with is, you know, I’ll tell them myself, I’ll say, “Well, I know this is happening, I experience it.” Like, I’ll get out of, you know, I’ll have a road rage incident, and here I am, meditating for several hours a day. And yet, I know deeply, intuitively that this is, I need to keep exploring this, the screen, the presence, because that is what’s real. I don’t even have a question there. It’s just, I’m curious.
– [Angelo] Oh, well. So you brought up emotion, which is important. So early on in the book, I say a couple of things. I try to give some orientations at the beginning of the book that will be sort of guide posts that can help you out throughout this path, throughout this journey-less journey, because there are so many twists and turns, and very unexpected experiences will pop up here and there. One of ’em is what you’re describing, right? Almost like a despair that comes after a significant taste of some sort of unfiltered experience, right? So one of the pointers in the book is be prepared to be a bit uncomfortable, yeah? I mean, anything in life that really is worth, worth doing is gonna be uncomfortable to some degree at some time. Like medical training, there’s plenty of discomfort, you know, for a long time along the medical training path, and so forth, this is no different than other undertakings. And there’s a degree of, an added degree off personal-ness to it. It’s a very personal experience. So it feels very, the pain feels intimate. It feels like my pain, my emotion, my–
– [Zubin] Yes.
– [Angelo] So just knowing ahead of time that there are going to be times where this is uncomfortable is helpful. The other thing I wanna say about it though, is it’s very typical, I have a section in one of my chapters called, “When the Other Shoe Drops.”
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] And it describes this, that when you get this experience of expansiveness, however that comes about, it can come about through serendipity. It can come about through practice, through using a koan, through meditation, through inquiry. I’ve known many people where it came completely out of the blue. They had no spiritual background, so to speak. They didn’t really have knowledge of awakening or this process, which by the way, isn’t necessarily spiritual. It might be more psychological than spiritual, experientially, but I’m just using that terminology. But many people, this actually will shift for them and they have no context, no understanding of what’s happening. And that can be challenging of course. But however it comes about, that you get that taste, you get that expansiveness, that touching into a sort of undivided presence, as you just described, very intimate, very expansive, and really wondrous. It’s kind of the thing where you go, “Oh, I don’t know what that was, but I want more of it.”
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] It’s natural.
– [Zubin] Absolutely.
– [Angelo] It feels good, it feels intimate, it feels real. And it feels like kind of who you are, yeah, at the deepest level. But as my section of the chapter describes, when the other shoe drops, what often follows that is a feeling of contraction. And I’ll define contraction as some measure of repressed, emotional material comes up to the surface, comes into consciousness. And when that happens, that’s where I really wanna give this pre-warning that it’s okay when that happens. Not only is it okay, it’s expected, yeah? So when I’m talking to somebody about awakening, and maybe they know a good amount about this, and I just start interacting with them, sometimes it’s very intellectual for them. They haven’t had the experience yet, but it’s quite intellectual and they know a lot about it. I know when they’ve made the turn, when they start talking to me about emotion, and despair, and feeling dysregulated, or feeling like, a little off something, you know, something that feels a little destabilizing for them. It doesn’t have to be a lot destabilizing, but that’s when, what I feel with that individual is, the first layer of identity is starting to strip away. And that’s the inauthenticity. That’s the sort of superficial layer of our persona with which we interface the whole world full of these superficial layers or persona that’s reasonably inauthentic, right? We’re walking, humans are walking bullshit artists.
– [Zubin] Absolutely.
– [Angelo] We just have to admit that to ourselves, right? At some point, hopefully. I’ll quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, he says it so well. He says, “Every man alone,” or every person alone, but he said man, “Every man alone is sincere. “At the entrance of one other person, hypocrisy begins.” So you’re not inauthentic when you’re alone, you’re just there, right?
– [Zubin] You’re you.
– [Angelo] You’re you, but when you start interacting with somebody, you immediately turn on this interface that we’ve learned. And we did this innocently, it just got hobbled together over the years, growing up, learning how to present ourselves, and so forth. We turn on this layer of a little bit of inauthenticity. And sometimes it’s a lot of inauthenticity, right? So what he says is every person alone, “every man alone is sincere, “but at the entrance of one other person, hypocrisy begins. “We parry the approach of our fellow man with amusements, “with compliments, with,” blah, blah, blah, right? “We cover our thoughts from him under 100 folds,” right? And that’s what I’m talking about, that when we start to dig in, when we get this expansive experience, when we touch into presence, and we touch into something more real than real, a deeper identity structure, a more expansive identity, what often follows that is, because that strips away a little layer of inauthenticity or a big layer of inauthenticity, what follows that is what we’ve often kept repressed with that identity.
– [Zubin] Ah!
– [Angelo] And it’s often emotion. And it can be anything really, but the common ones are something like fear, sadness, grief, even anger. You’ve experienced, I remember last time I was here, you talked about the anger thing where it just comes out of nowhere.
– [Zubin] Yeah, it just comes out of nowhere.
– [Angelo] And you’re like, “But I’m not an angry person,” but there it was, right?
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] And so we all go through those, but it’s not an indication that something has gone wrong with this process. It’s actually an indication that the process is actually working. You really are digging in. So when you feel that, a moment of whatever, despair, frustration, sadness, just notice it. Just go, “Oh, this is frustration. “Oh, frustration’s here now. “Have I been avoiding frustration? “What am I really frustrated about in life?” You can inquire into that, you can look, feel, “When did I start feeling frustrated in life? “Oh my gosh, I spend most of my day frustrated. “I spend most of my day inpatient,” you know? This isn’t everybody, but a significant number of us, you know, in the West, especially.
– [Zubin] Especially in medicine.
– [Angelo] In the United States and medicine.
– [Zubin] Right?
– [Angelo] It’s a high, it’s a fast-paced field. It’s, you know, there’s a lot going on. So we tend to sit there and imagine the next moment as if we can insist it into being, and we’re missing this moment. And what a lot of what we’re missing is the emotional landscape, the connect. And emotional landscape, meaning the connectedness to your environment. The natural empathic response to your environment, to your patients, to your coworkers, feeling what everyone’s feeling, just and being okay to have your body actually respond naturally and seamlessly with its environment. And at first, that can actually be scary, right? The mind will often jump in right now and say, “Oh, well, wait a minute. “I can’t connect emotionally to people around me. “I have to make decisions,” and et cetera. You can, I promise, I promise you can do that, and also make decisions, and make medical decisions that have judge, you totally can. But at first, it will be, for some people, it will be uncomfortable at first. But as you learn to trust it, that you can actually keep some attention in the body and feel what your own body’s feeling in the moment in the environment, in the sounds, and interact with somebody in a way that is meaningful for that context, work or whatever, you’ll start to find that you can actually communicate on more than one channel at the same time. And you start to have much more authentic communication, yeah? So when these painful emotions come, that’s awesome. This isn’t all about blowing your mind out into bliss and into expansive nothingness, or something, it has two phases to it. And one of the phases is that insight, which is very clear, expansive, infinite, so forth, intimate. But the other part of it is sort of raw, it’s immediate. It’s human and you can’t overlook that. And so it’s okay when those emotions come, do the emotion work, you know? There’s a chapter on it here. There’s plenty of ways to work through this stuff. Write it out, journal it. People who journal do really well with this stuff I’ve noticed. Journal it, you know, trace it back. “Where did I start feeling frustrated?” You might even go back to earlier times in your life, but that’s the kind of work that you may not have known that this is gonna lead you to, but I promise you, you will be… This work pays off a hundredfold for you, just in natural enjoyment of your day-to-day life if you start doing the work.
– [Zubin] So lots to learn. So one question I have just to follow up on that, but man, there’s so much there. How important in your mind is it to go conceptually tracing back, where is this frustration? What’s the cause of my anger? Why am I feeling this way versus feeling it, really feeling it, and just letting it be there in experience?
– [Angelo] You develop an intuitive sense of when each one is appropriate. Generally speaking, I would say, if nothing else, just drop your attention into your body. Especially if you have time, if you’re on break, if you’re at home, you know, put the distractions down, put the phone away, turn off the TV, whatever. And just sit there for a few minutes or sit there for 20 minutes, and just drop your attention from the thoughts and the blah, blah, blah, down into the body. Just feel what you’re feeling. “Oh, wow, I feel tension in my chest. “I feel tension in my gut,” you know, something, whatever. You may have a label for that emotion. You may say, “Oh, this kinda feels like fear. “I’m feeling fear right now.” Okay, that’s what’s being felt, just feel it. Don’t try to change it, do anything with it, analyze it, push it away. Sometimes, after you do enough of this though, sometimes you’ll get the sense that, it’s just like it’s leading you down a little farther. It’s kinda, it’s like breadcrumbs almost. You learn to sort of follow those down. I have a sense of it because I do this with people so much of when to start getting a little deeper, like, “Hmm, where do you think this came from?” And that’s usually when it’s repetitive, when no matter what, they wake up to some degree, and then, they’re just, they hit a wall. And they just keep saying, “I just can’t. “I feel stuck, I can’t get farther,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I just say, “What I feel is frustration. “Let’s look into, “let’s find the root of frustration for you.” And often, that really ends up going back to some simple event earlier in their life or something. So when something’s repetitive, when it just feels like a block that just over time, really isn’t dissolving–
– [Zubin} Like a fixation.
– [Angelo] A fixation around a certain emotion, a certain event, anything, that’s when it’s like, do a little deeper analysis. I mean, it could be something like PTSD, even, right? And there are treatments for that now. Very good treatments for that. So some things like that can come up during this, for sure. And you just have to sort of develop a sense of when to dig in a little deeper. And sometimes you can have someone help you, you can do therapy, you can do circling. There’s like a lot of ways of you going about this. But again, if you don’t know, don’t get in your head about it. Just relax, feel what’s the body’s feeling. Just, it can be that simple.
– [Zubin] So follow up question on that. So sometimes emotion, strong emotion will arise. And with that emotion, it’s almost like the emotion itself, which is a sensation somewhere in the body, it’s a pattern that you feel, it ripples out through the rest of experience and triggers thought waves to happen that then, refer to the emotion, whether it’s panic or resistance, or whether it’s a story about the emotion. “Oh, I woke up with chest tightness “because I’m worried about this talk I have to give,” or whatever it is, how do you, how do you start to disentangle that? Because sometimes the thoughts can be so powerfully interwoven with the emotion that it’s very hard to do what you’re saying, which is just get out of the head and into the body, and focus on the emotion when the thoughts are so in your face, how would you sort of point people to that?
– [Angelo] Yeah, so in that situation, in fact, one of the signs that there may be something deeper to investigate, kind of to go back to your last question, can be that, where it’s like something in your mind is just going, “No, no, no, no, no, I do not wanna feel this, “I don’t wanna see it, I don’t wanna go there,” often that’s a sign of a really sticky, deeper pattern, or fixation, or a Vasana, or something.
– [Zubin] Vasana is a what, a term regarding a…
– [Angelo] It’s like a fixation.
– [Zubin] Like a fixation, yeah.
– [Angelo] Like a fixation, it’s something that’s habitually perpetuating itself throughout your life. And it affects a lot of different areas of your life. It keeps coming back. It keeps popping up until you finally figure out how to actually look at it, feel into it, get to its root, accept it, you know, that kind of thing.
– [Zubin] So you’re not resisting it.
– [Angelo] No.
– [Zubin] You’re not healing it. You’re not deleting it. You’re integrating it. You’re feeling it, you’re… And these are kind of a kind of conditioning,
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] in a way, yeah.
– [Angelo] It’s a conditioning avoidance that we are starting to bring into consciousness, and it can come up in different ways. But one of ’em is just a thought that’s super insistent. Like, “No, don’t look there.” Or, “No, no, no.” Or your thoughts storms are coming when you’re starting to feel some specific experience. That’s one possibility, but generally speaking, what I would recommend in that case where you’re feeling something, you don’t know what it is, but the mind is just racing or going kind of nuts about it, is just notice the thoughts. “Oh, those are thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, okay, thoughts. “Those are thoughts, that’s the thought space. “Oh, and this is the sensation, okay.” You don’t champion one or the other, you don’t say one’s right or one’s wrong. There’s no analysis. It’s just noticing everything for what it is. “Oh, this is a sensation, okay. “Oh, and then, those are the thoughts “that say this, this, this, this.” “Oh, those are the thoughts, okay. “And here’s the sensation.” Just mindfully move your attention back and forth a bit, so that you start to feel each one individually as its own sort of experience. The other thing is, if it’s really just a thought storm, like nothing’s pulling your attention out of your thoughts and trying to do so just feels too, too much struggle, then just say, “Okay, I’m gonna have a thought storm right now. “Bring ’em on, let’s see how many thoughts I can have.”
– [Zubin] So just release into it.
– [Angelo] Oh yeah.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] Just keep ’em coming and just orient, what’s the next thought coming? “Bring it, let’s see it. “Oh, that’s the thought. “Okay, that’s great, it can be here. “Here’s another one, oh, here’s another one. “It can be here, it can be here.” Just let the thoughts come. Or even if one specific, very specific thought is really like, sort of invasive or you feel like you wanna push it away, again, that can in the extreme, can turn into PTSD. I’d say just bring it forward, and just tell it, it can be there. Whatever this thought is. It could be an image of something I did that was embarrassing. It could be a narrative I don’t wanna hear in my mind, but it keeps coming back. And just say, “Okay, “I’ll bring that right to the center of my attention. “I’ll give it all my attention.” You can make the analogy of a child. If your child comes home from school, they’re crying, they’re hurt, they’re upset. You know it, you feel it, you bring your child close. You physically come in contact with them. You help them regulate their nervous system, and their emotions, and then, you start asking them, “What’s going on?” Let ’em talk about it, let ’em talk it out. Let ’em communicate what they need to communicate, right? In the same way, just give it all your attention. And with like, love, compassion, just let it be what it is. And if it’s one thought and you can just say, “You can be here as long as you need to.” Hold it right in the middle of your consciousness. And what’s interesting, you often find is, if you really try to actually hold one thought, and just give it space and let it be there, it kind of is sort of hard to hold. They sorta dissolve into some sort of spaciousness, but that’s not the goal. So that’s one thing you can do if very invasive thoughts are coming, is really just go, “Okay, you have the stage.”
– [Zubin] Oh, perfect.
– [Angelo] “You have all my attention. “I’m not gonna worry about the past, the future. “I’m not gonna worry about sensations. “I’ll just give you my attention right now.” Let it be what it is. And that’s usually, that’s usually a good answer. Just go where the attention moves naturally. And then, just give it your full attention. When we feel struggle is when we’re trying to redirect attention, when attention is trying to move naturally, and we’re trying to redirect it to something else.
– [Zubin] Yeah, we’re forcing it somewhere else.
– [Angelo] And a lot of times that’s happening completely in the thought world. This thought’s coming and we’re trying to readdress, force it to redirect to this thought, and back to this thought, and then, you get these like… That’s mind identification, though. And then, it gets set up almost like a standing wave. And then, you live there and you don’t realize how much struggle there actually is going on all the time.
– [Zubin] That’s where we live at baseline. I think most humans live in that standing wave of mind identification. And what you said about you just don’t realize how much energy that actually takes until you drop through it. And now, this, I mean, this is like a four-hour conversation just on emotion, I gotta say, because everything that you’re talking about, there’s so many misconceptions. Like people think meditation is about, or awakening, or realization, whatever this path is, this non-path is, is about transcending emotion. It’s about skipping past these dirty human things of emotions, and sensations, and thoughts. And none of that’s real, what’s real is consciousness, bro. Like it’s just pure awareness, so just skip right to that. That’s not how this works. And it’s not how it should work. You said another thing. And so this emotion work is crucial. The working with thought actually is crucial. But one thing you said, do it out of love. So this is something I really wanna emphasize because if I wake up at four in the morning with chest tightness and I now know what that is, there’s an unconscious thing that’s happening where I’m afraid of something. I’m afraid of humiliation. I’m afraid I said something on a show. I’m afraid I’ve gotta do a talk and I’m gonna make a fool of myself. I have imposter, but there’s a million reasons, right? But I know that pattern of energy now, and I know that it actually wakes me up. So what I found is if I sit then, if I get up and I sit in meditation, and I’m just trying to be with that, and the thoughts around it, and I be with it, if I have an intention going into that, that my goal is to make this dissolve. This is gonna go away, and the only way to do it is I’ve gotta meditate it away, that doesn’t work. That generates a resistance wave that then becomes more thoughts happen. And the sensation’s there. But if I surrender and say, “Listen, my friend, sensation, whatever this is, fear, “thank you for being here and showing me “what you’re trying to show me. “I know it’s you need to be here. “So I’m just gonna let you be here.” And then, something really dramatic happens, which is you experience it rawly, and whatever happens, happens. And I’ll tell you what happens for me is it often dissolves into a kind of acceptance. But sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it’s still there and that’s okay too. Yeah, but if I go in with the intent, like I’m here to meditate this away, it just, I can feel it. Like, it’s a kind of a resistance energy. It’s exhausting. And then, more thoughts come.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] And then, you’re lost in thought. And then, the next thing you know, you’re on your computer answering emails because you’re just, you’re fed up.
– [Angelo] Mm-hmm, yeah, I agree. I mean, the thing that came to me to say, as you were talking or describing that is, that emotions in and of themselves are never a problem.
– [Zubin] Mm.
– [Angelo] They just aren’t. What makes them feel like, well, first of all, again, with that first layer of inauthenticity, or two or three or four layers of authenticity, that some of us walk around with, you may not even know you’re feeling emotions. This kind of talk can make you a little bit uncomfortable, or you’re just like, “Ah, that’s nonsense.” I lived there, I know what that was like. I grew up that way, right? So, but once you start touching into those emotions, it will feel like, you know, once it’s more raw, it’ll feel like the emotions, the problem are like, “What am I gonna do with all this emotion?” But it’s not ever the emotion that’s actually the issue. The issue is the resistance to the emotion. But you’re not doing it on purpose, and you’re not doing it right now. It’s habituated, it’s been there for, you’ve learned it subliminally from everyone around you, and humans communicate this to each other all the time at various levels of emotional repression that are solidified, and concretized, and so forth. So yeah, it will feel like, “Oh, this, what am I gonna do with the sadness?” And the mind gets very alerted. Like, “What should I do about this? “Should I meditate it away? “Should I do this and that?” But it’s actually not the thing that’s the most obvious that’s causing the pain, the contraction, the feeling of discomfort, let’s say, or dysphoria, it’s the resistance to it, which is a little harder to see. But what you just described is a very good way to get at it. And that is, “Okay, the first thing I’m gonna do,” it’s like as a physician, first of all, do no harm. Let’s first not add any more resistance and just know there probably is already resistance there. That’s why, that’s actually why it’s come to the surface.
– [Zubin] Right.
– [Angelo] So I won’t add resistance, and that’s great. Just take the stance of not adding resistance. If you feel like sitting, great. But the goal of sitting is not to get rid of anything, it’s to actually calm the mind, and calm the restlessness enough so that this can get the attention it deserves. And at some point, and this is kind of like fast-forwarding, but at some point when you experience an emote, I just wanna kind of get, show the end game of this, to experience an emotion without an identity at all, without any sense of separate identity or anything like that is a really wonderful thing. It’s you’re feeling the energy of the whole entire environment at once, is what you’re feeling, and the way the body naturally responds to it. It’s perfectly natural. Not only natural, it’s deeply enjoyable to be alive.
– [Zubin] Mm-hmm.
– [Angelo] And that’s where this goes. So it’s interesting because emotions do calm over time quite a bit, but it doesn’t mean you can’t feel basic emotions like sadness, simple joy, even anger in the right situation, right? It’s a boundary emotion, and so, if you’re physically threatened or something, you could definitely feel anger or fear, but not psychological fear. When psychological fear is gone, this all becomes quite enjoyable. And psychological fear is another way of saying resistance.
– [Zubin] Resistance, yeah, yeah. So after the retreat that we did, which we’ll probably talk about in a separate show or throughout, the mind was the noise, the general chatter that happens was really calmed down over the course of the few days we were semi-silent retreat, and the level of concentration improves and so on. And in that silence, the emotion body, that sense of these emotions became, it’s almost like you’re, you’re turning down the background noise, so the signal gets stronger. So you can feel that raw emotion so clearly, and not just in yourself, but like you said, in the environment, so you feel others’ emotions. So when I came back, I went to Whole Foods and I wanted to get a pizza slice. And the dude was behind the counter. And he’s masked and you can’t see expressions, and all of that, I could feel directly, my own, “Oh, I’m feeling a little anticipation “’cause I want that particular pizza slice “before someone else gets it. “Oh, look at what that feels like.” And this guy, I’m feeling that he’s tired. Like, he’s been working all day and he’s, you know? And an opening happens, a receptivity happens where you really, it’s almost a resonance you feel, you feel the other person almost as if it’s you. And the weird result of that is that person opens in a way. So you have an interaction that is so different than you’re used to having. And it’s all unconscious, meaning it’s all non-verbal in a way.
– [Angelo] Yeah, right.
– [Zubin] And that, I think, points to the value of this work, of this really understanding of feeling emotion. Again, people seem to think this process is about transcending emotion. It is absolutely not. Emotion is there, it’s a life energy, it’s there to communicate in a way. Yeah?
– [Angelo] Yeah. It feels like being a human.
– [Zubin] Heaven forbid.
– [Angelo] Right?
– [Zubin] Right?
– [Angelo] Can you imagine?
– It’s being a human, but unapologetically, authentically, sincerely, feeling what it feels like to inhabit this body-mind, period, it’s simple. And when that was happening for you, was it enjoyable?
– [Zubin] It was transcendently enjoyable.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] Like, it felt–
– [Angelo] Paradox.
– [Zubin] Paradox, like, oh, I’m doing something you’re not supposed to do, opening your whole self to a stranger in a crowded place where you’re competing with others for that slice of pizza.
– [Angelo] Mm-hmm.
– [Zubin] Right?
– [Angelo] Yeah, what would the mind say about that if you weren’t in that specific context? Like, if you hadn’t just come from a retreat or something, to open yourself to environmental strangers, right? The mind would have a lot to say about that. It would say, “Oh, that could be scary, it could be danger.” It’ll come up with 10 reasons why you probably don’t wanna do that, or it’s too, it’s unsafe, or it’s not, say it’s dangerous. And it turns out it’s not true.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] At all.
– [Zubin] It’s a story.
– [Angelo] Mm-hmm.
– [Zubin] But boy, it feels real when you’re in that mind standing wave, where we are often trapped, where I find myself trapped a lot, and it actually, it becomes even more dysphoric, because you can kind of see it a little bit. There is a position, it’s another view, but you can take it and see that and then go, “Ooh, I’m trapped in this.” And what’s even worse is I feel like I can’t actually break out right now. Like, I’m just gonna let it be trapped. There’s nothing I can do. But so the mind will tell stories about it. But what is remarkable is, if you, when you experience that way of being, it’s so clear that it is, there’s 100% less suffering. There’s so much more connection and equanimity, and then, you don’t even want the pizza slice. You’re just really there, you’re just right there, yeah.
– [Angelo] And your attention is in true presence
– [Zubin] True presence.
– [Angelo] You’re not trying to think about what’s happening later and what’s happening, what just happened and you’re right there, fully and enjoying it. And you’re there because, and it kind of shows you, the presence is always there, obviously, it’s just the case, this kind of deep, profound, intimate presence is not just possible, it’s actually always there. So what is that mental activity that’s always thinking about the next thing or the thing. It makes sense to itself, right? The thinking process is, “Oh no, I have to think about, okay, “in 15 minutes, I’ll be home. “What am I gonna cook for dinner? “I got a plan that, I gotta,” blah, blah, blah. But that’s the story. You ever heard like a justification is a thin skin of truth stuff with a bald-faced lie?
– [Zubin] I haven’t heard that.
– [Angelo] Everything that the mind says is like that. Every thought is like that, right? But the truth is I have to think about dinner, and, you know, I gotta pick up my kids, blah, blah, you know, whatever. You don’t have to think about any of that stuff. You’re probably already gonna do it. And if you’re gonna forget, you’re gonna forget anyway, right? And the more thoughts there are, often, the more forgetful you can become–
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] Depending on what else is going on. But the truth of it, that’s partially true. Yeah, you have to go home and cook dinner. That’s gonna happen, right? But the bald-face lie is you’re actually using that right now to avoid connection with the person right in front of you. And yourself.
– [Zubin] Okay, that is one of the deepest truths that you can absolutely point at, that we believe it’s a belief, it’s a thought-based belief, that we have to think about stuff in the future in order for stuff to go right. Like, this is insanity. It’s an insanity, and I’ll tell you again, the retreat is what allowed me to see this clearly. You don’t have to think about anything in the future,
– [Angelo] Nope.
– [Zubin] for you to spontaneously have that future manifest however it’s gonna manifest. And the suffering that it generates now, by pushing you away from what’s actually happening, the person in front of you, your wife, your spouse, your kid, your patient, the mailman, it doesn’t matter, it is… You can’t even estimate how much it is. It’s unestimatable, but it’s massive. Why are we like that? I don’t even know. Is it conditioning of years of evolution? Is it a disease of the humans that we think?
– [Angelo] Well, in one sense, I think there’s no specific why. And also, why doesn’t matter. What matters is how to undo that in a sense. But if I had to name a culprit, it’s a emotional repression.
– [Zubin] Really?
– [Angelo] There’s a pandemic of emotional repression.
– [Zubin] Even with a thinking disease?
– [Angelo] You know, this is something I say to people I work closely with who wake up, and then, continue to wake up. And what’s interesting is they usually come back to me after a deep stage of realization, they go, “You’re right on the money. “I had no idea how much emotional repression there was in me.”
– [Zubin] Wow.
– [Angelo] And in everyone, and now, I feel it all the time. I can’t not feel it. It’s just so obvious.
– [Zubin] Ah.
– [Angelo] It seems it’s so counterintuitive, but it’s like, the best place to hide something you’re afraid of is to hide from yourself the fact that you’re even afraid of it, you know?
– [Zubin] Yeah, yeah.
– [Angelo] And so that’s, generally speaking, probably my answer is, we’re afraid of what we actually want. We’re afraid of the intimacy of feeling. We’re afraid of the intimacy of just being alive, being right here. But anyway, I did wanna mention, as you said, it is kind of insanity that to think we always have to think about what’s gonna happen five minutes from now, what the next conversation I’m gonna have with my spouse is, and often, you preplan arguments, and all this nonsense, right? It’s all based on preplanned ideas.
– [Zubin] Yeah, preplanning arguments. My god, yeah.
– [Angelo] It’s silly, right?
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] But, but I wanted to point out that everyone actually knows how stupid that is. For instance, like when you’re cooking, say you’re cooking dinner, you’re cutting carrots, and you’re cutting this, and you’re cutting that, and you’re preparing, you’re not thinking, “Okay, I’m gonna pick up the knife. “Okay, in one second, I’m gonna pick up the knife, “and I’ll move it over to the carrot, “and I’m gonna cut the carrot.” We don’t really do that, right? You don’t have to, you can do so much spontaneously. In fact, you do everything spontaneously in the moment. In fact, the moment is spontaneously just happening. And at some point, that becomes obvious. And it’s such a release.
– [Zubin] So liberating, yeah.
– [Angelo] A huge, huge relief, ’cause all of your attention now, can just go right into just being alive. So actually loving just being alive, no matter what’s happening, it doesn’t actually matter. And then you find, oh, wow, I do know what to say. I can make a plan in this moment spontaneously without much thought or any thought really of the future. I can just make the plan, as I’ve said before, you know, I don’t know, you get online, you order the plane ticket and it’s done, and you completely forget about it. And then, when that time comes, that time is there. And then, you find yourself in a different environment. Very simple. You don’t have to constantly think about the next thing that’s gonna happen. And I would argue if you, be honest with yourself, when you’re doing that, just look and go, “Is there a little discomfort “underneath this mental activity? “Oh, there is a little discomfort, what am I feeling? “Oh, okay, I’m feeling a little…” Maybe I feel a little dysphoric because like, I’m at the grocery store and I don’t feel connected to people around me, and so I wouldn’t know what to say. So I feel a little insecure, I feel a little, right? Now, when you’ve been in retreat for a week and you’re blown wide open and we’re all sitting in the emotion body, and then, even in sort of deeper, like the energetic experience, then all of a sudden, you connect with everybody, and you know you’re already connected with everybody. You don’t have to figure out what to say because we’re all experiencing the same thing. We’re all actually empathic creatures communicating with each other on that empathic channel all the time. And then, we’re also communicating up on this mind identify channel that has like, you know, gaze aversion and all those sorts of things that communicate, subliminally communicate that like, I don’t see you, which is a lie. You do see, you do see everyone around you, of course you do, right? So again, that’s the inauthenticity. That’s not just a mental thing. It’s a behavioral habit actually.
– [Zubin] You know what’s funny? So coming back from retreat, that drive from Monterrey up to the Bay Area, and like you said, you’re blown wide open. And people who haven’t done retreat, it’s very hard to describe this. You have to experience it, you are… Yeah, I mean, I’m just gonna talk with my hands. I’m driving back and I’m like, okay, now, I’m gonna reintegrate with my wife and two kids back into life. And thoughts started coming, “How the hell are you gonna do that? “Well, what are you gonna say? “What are you gonna tell them? “Are you gonna say this about the retreat? “How are you gonna describe “that ineffable experience that you had? “Now they’re gonna think you’re crazy. “You know what? That’s gonna be humiliating. “And then, they’re gonna think you’re weird “if you’re just silent with your eyes closed, “like you were for the last seven days.” Oh, and then this, and my, just going, going, going, and what was crazy is, there I am, watching this happen and I’m like, “Look at this mind of mine, what’s it doing?” So I pull up into the driveway and I’m like, and the mind is still going. “Okay, now you gotta walk in the door. “How are you gonna enter? “They’re gonna look at you funny,” you know? I mean, it’s a disease, but then, something crazy happened. I get up to the threshold of the door and I’m like, “Drop all that shit, man, that’s nothin’. “Just walk in the door and see what happens,” and I did. And it was spontaneous, presence, connection, love, like communication on a level that I’d never experienced with my own family. And I was like, this is, this is what people are looking for. And they don’t even know it, right?
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] Yeah, that’s it.
– [Angelo] If you would’ve told me before this shift happened for me many years ago when I was growing up and suffering, but not even really fully admitting to myself how much I was suffering, if you would have told me this, that this is what you really want, it wouldn’t even have made sense to me.
– [Zubin] It wouldn’t have made sense.
– [Angelo] It would have been like you were speaking a different language.
– [Zubin] Exactly.
– [Angelo] That’s what, I would have been, “Oh, you’re an idiot,” you know?
– [Zubin] Yeah, yeah.
– [Angelo] But–
– [Zubin] I’m sure there’s people watching now that are saying that, right? Yeah.
– [Angelo] And it’s fine. And if you, if you do,
– [Zubin] yeah, it’s okay.
– [Angelo] if that is your reaction, and yet, there’s still something interesting about this, all I would say is it’s not about me, Angelo, it’s not about Zubin, it’s about you. Like, if you, if something in this, there’s a glimmer of truth in it, even though some of it’s uncomfortable or whatever, follow that, however you need to do it. Not by, you don’t have to listen to me or read my book or anything, but follow it. Find a way in. Find a way past anything that feels a little bit inauthentic or just keep following that. You know, there’s the poem, I can’t quote the whole thing, but it’s “The Well of Grief” by David Whyte.
– [Zubin] Yeah, beautiful poem.
– [Angelo] And you know, you gotta go to the depths, and those shiny coins are down there, but you gotta go all the way down, you know? So if you can see the shimmer from the top of the well, it’s okay to go down, go check it out, check it out your way. Everyone has to wake up with their own way in a sense. There’s pointers.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] But it’s a very intimate process. It’s a personal process. And that’s the only reason I, honestly, I mean, I love talking to you and we have fun and stuff, but that’s why I come on the shows. That’s when people invite me. The only reason I come is to say this, what I’m saying, to anyone who’s listening, if you’re suffering, and something doesn’t feel right in your life, and some part of you says, “I think there’s a way to live more authentically, “in a more real connected free way, spontaneously, “without all the struggle all the time,” I just want that person to know this is possible. That’s why I do this, that’s it. It’s not about me. It’s not about spirituality, or Buddhism, or you, or it’s not about anything. It’s about the person listening that feels this and goes, “Okay, something’s clicking,” you know? And I’ve heard countless people tell me that’s exactly what happened when we did our last series of shows. They’re like, “I don’t know what it was, “whatever you guys were talking about. “I had heard about spirituality, I was turned off to it. “I wasn’t interested in it, “but something the way you guys were able “to bring it forth, it clicked. “And it changed everything.” I mean, we’ve had, I can’t, I can’t count how many people have had like a very profound awakening since our last series, which was seven or eight months ago, nine months ago. Offhand, I can think of about 10 that contacted me. And I’ve interacted with them, that it’s very, very profound, absolute transition, transformation in their identity, and the way they experience everything. It happens a lot. So it’s possible for you, for anyone listening. And that’s the underlying message of all this stuff we’re talking about. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to understand any of it. You don’t have to understand, I don’t understand this shit. I don’t care. I don’t care to understand it. I don’t care to teach language. I don’t care to teach concepts. I don’t care to get someone interested in a certain religious way of thinking. I don’t care about any of that stuff. I care, really, I care about you. I care that you don’t have to suffer. If your instinct tells you, you’re not here to suffer, you’re damn right you’re not here to suffer you. There’s a way out of that, that’s why I’m here. That’s why I wrote the book, yeah.
– [Zubin] So what you just kind of described is this idea, again, it gets back to something you mentioned earlier, which is authenticity. Something happens when you touch into this stuff, when you explore this, your authentic being in this moment just comes forth. And with you, the authenticity is, you really care about other people’s suffering. And because you’ve seen this thing in many people, and that is what you care about. I’ve seen what you care about and what you don’t care about. I feel it. You come online when you see people suffering, and you can point. And what we’ve seen in the response to the original shows is exactly that. So many people have said, “Oh my gosh.” And then, other people have said, “You know, “I watched that thing and I just didn’t get it at all. “And I read the book, and I don’t know, “I didn’t get it at all. “And then, something happened, “and I went back and I read part of it, “and something crazy happened.” So this is, again, this is a very non-linear, crazy thing. And even the conversation we’re having now, there’s a degree of inauthenticity if I’m asking you questions about this. In a way, you feel it, right? It’s like, there’s a, “Oh, well, so Angelo, let’s talk about emotion,” but in reality, that’s not really how it is. It is a, it’s like a living organism, this whole thing. You can’t even really… That’s why the construct of this is tough for me, ’cause you and I connect on a level like that, that is not the format of, “Let me ask you some questions, Angelo, about emotion.”
– [Angelo] Right.
– [Zubin] Right? And that’s what makes it so interesting. So from the standpoint of authenticity, one other thing, I think, well, you know what we can do? Let’s… Let’s wrap this up here, and I want to tell people, ’cause we’ll do more, many more episodes. I wanna tell people like, listen. If any of this even triggered a piece of you to go, “God, you know, “I resonated when he talked about suffering with emotion, “or thoughts storms, “or the disengagement from other people, “or from my family,” or whatever, just really explore it. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Whether it’s this book, which I highly recommend, because I think it’s so direct. And I think it’s written from a place of a totally secular, non-spiritual, woo-woo, by a doctor who’s as big as skeptic as I am. Just start with that. And there’s gonna be a lot more videos we do about this stuff, and you have your own channel, “Simply Always Awake” on YouTube, where you point very directly with very short videos on many topics. So people can go there and start looking. But I think we just need to keep talking because there’s so much more I wanna reach, and I wanna make it digestible. Sound good?
– [Angelo] Absolutely.
– [Zubin] Guys, I love you. Thanks Angelo.
– [Angelo] Thank you.