The Dalai Lama, Paul Ekman and Dr. Eve Ekman have created a visual journey through our emotions! The Atlas of Emotions provides a map of the primary feelings, and breaks each one of them down. What triggers sadness? What thought patterns can arise from anger? How may feelings affect our actions? Below are some thoughts on how this is related to yoga philosophy and why we believe this is a very powerful tool.
The power of knowledge
The atlas has a huge potential to teach people about the life of our mind, offering a link between feelings and reactions. According to the yogic philosophy, thoughts are often driven unconsciously. The mind tends to be in a reactive state to the environment. Whereas feelings are energy that you experience here and now, reactive thoughts have taken you for a ride far away from the now. As soon as the mind has wandered off to distant places without purpose or awareness, you are not present. Whether the tool is meditation or an atlas of emotion (or both!), first step becomes to observe and realize those unconscious patterns.
Furthermore, yogic philosophy claims that most of these unconscious thoughts are false! In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali claims that truth is direct perception only (you see fire), inference (you see the smoke, hence there must be a fire) and scriptural testimony (you choose to trust another source that is reliable). All other mental modifications need to be controlled in order to allow the inner peace to shine through, among those memories (dreams and daydreams), erroneous visuals and misconceptions. Both Patanjali and the Dalai Lama believe that the ultimate goal is a calm state of mind; this state allows for mind control ensuring that we live in the now, and base our actions on the truth instead of living in a false reactive state.
Feelings triggering thoughts
So next time you become sad because you have not been invited to a party, instead of letting your thoughts unconsciously making up false stories, feeding this feeling and triggering actions that are not based upon the truth, you may attempt to recognize the primary emotion, to observe how it affects your mind, and ideally preventing an unnecessary action or secondary feeling.
This is true for enjoyment as well as anger, fear and disgust. Both the Atlas of Emotions and yoga broadens the practice of being able to recognize a feeling and accepting that state of energy. Genius!