Comfortably numb is arguably Pink Floyd’s best hit single but one of the most desired mental and physical states one can aspire to in the transcendental world of zen. The feeling is just in itself a barrier to everything toxic around you. The painful jabs that people around you throw in your face suddenly become lifeless when you don’t feel a thing for them. It’s a phase in life we want permanently as to us, its an antidote to all that hurt. But is turning numb and rejecting all that we feel even emotionally valid?
The one devoid of all emotional reaction
While the world fights and cries and laughs and breaks down under the petty issues of daily life, the individual experiencing nirvana passes through all that without a word, quietly doing what he’s supposed to. It’s like the individual streams through the emotional garbage of the world without getting any mud on his pants, as he seers with the pure purpose of life he’s found. This individual is devoid of all emotion. Or is he?
The streamlined mind pacing through a turbulent sea – an average tale of depression
To suddenly see the world in terms of variables and constants and logic makes life easy for one. Those messy finicky things we call feeling are finally now done with. It’s as if the decision making ability is suddenly streamlined enough to make it easily through the turbulent sea. The pace of moving forward in life is gradually increasing on an exponential level. But wait – what’s that? You look around you. You suddenly feel alone in the journey. You’re making the best out of your bucket list but feel unhappy. Those things you called feelings are beginning to surface. You don’t know how to manage them because you haven’t really in the past. Can you run through the turbulence that fast when there’s too much of it inside of you?
Mental self vs emotional self
When teaching one to become emotionally numb, one doesn’t simply do that. One corners these emotions as they accumulate over time in a corner of our mind.
Had a break up? Well let’s dumb the emotional waste in one corner of our brains. Sucked real bad on your grades? Let’s not face the emotional turmoil and keep going. Did you suddenly lose a friend? I don’t do emotions.
One day these neglected feelings turn your mind into an emotional landfill and a swirling feeling of an emotion medley finds itself crashing you. Suddenly its too much for you. Why do you feel this way? You don’t know that you’re an emotional baggage because what are emotions after all? So you try to block out more emotional waste so things make sense so much so that the presence emotional toxin makes you numb from deep with in. You are not emotionally reactive the outside. But from the inside, nothing passes half as close to orderly. A day comes when you ask yourself, “why am I depressed?”
Not processing emotions – the short term effect and the long term dread
Emotions are more or less like timely feelings that come and go like weather. They make us feel happy and sad depending on the movie you’re watching, the grade you’re scoring, the person you’re dating. But sometimes, one’s got to admit, they’re pretty meaningless and stupid. A woman going through her menopause isn’t reacting angrily to everything that passes as alive around her – it’s her hormones getting the best of her.
The existence of emotion is justified by the existence of cortisol itself; the stress hormones that makes us anxious enough to shiver and angst as the chemical runs through our blood stream. When we deny the existence of human emotion, we deny the existence of nature’s way of making us. We deny ourselves the reality of ourselves.
As we throw away the lament that the loss of a loved one brings upon us, we sit in denial, waiting to be rescued by some higher power that takes away our own ability to feel things. But that’s not how humans work. Humans feel and as much as we’d hate to confront that reality, we need to admit it to ourselves that it’s not in us to not take emotional heed. The denial of our ability to feel will only lead us into carrying emotional baggage, stopping us from ever knowing ourselves. Is that what Zen really is? Nirvana and such transcendental state often misunderstood as making the human body devoid of feeling anything but is that even true? Is it denying ourselves our basic way of functioning as a social animal?
The truth is that nirvana is about passing through the turbulence of the sea as streamlined without being overwhelmed by the emotion. It’s not denying the emotional sense of self of us but it is accepting that we are emotional beings and that the turbulence is outside but will be within us if we deny the experience in terms of feelings. These times are not trying, these times are just like weather. They pass, and one can feel wholesome just by accepting the weather, and the temporary nature of it.