What’s your general level of stuff right now?
Some time ago, Steven introduced me to a technique Shinzen shared with him- checking in with your level of negative emotional activation (code-named “stuff”), and labeling it “low,” “medium,” or “high.” Sometimes he will go up to me and say “What’s your general level of stuff right now?” I didn’t connect to this technique for a long time, but recently, it really hit home. I’ve been having a lot of emotional activation due to circumstances outside changing as well as some internal consciousness stuff, and Steven has been witnessing this firsthand (read: suffered my presence for the last week). Anyways, I mentioned to S, my partner, that when I’m clear, I see things as they are (she loves me, etc.), but when I’m not clear, I don’t see things clearly. She mentioned “that sounds like a great meditation technique!” and so naturally I thought of Steven’s social meditation technique and started doing it regularly. I’ve had a lot of insights from doing this regularly (with Steven’s help, as well as S), especially in the thick of regular emotional activation. I noticed how terrible things feel when it is “High.” I noticed I can’t quite tell why things are terrible – the body sensations or thoughts or feelings don’t add up to the feeling of suffering. I noticed how much relief there is associated with things being “Low,” and really appreciated being able to acknowledge the relative absence of emotional activation. I noticed how if the label “Low” comes after a period of “medium” or “High” that there is a kind of emotional residue or “hangover.” And I also noticed what it’s like to have a “Medium” label – something I hadn’t noticed clearly, and am grateful to have more clarity around. Medium can easily become high if you’re not careful.
I’d been doing that technique with Michael for a few months. In the last few days, since he posted that in my chat, a bunch of other friends have started doing it too. It’s been great! Let me know how it goes for you.