“A great leap forward sometimes requires two steps back” – Obi-wan Kenobi
Even Jedi had to deal with emotions and inner turmoil. In the Clone Wars episode “The Blue Shadow Virus” Anakin is becoming agitated as it becomes clear that Padme and the entire planet of Naboo will be in grave danger from a biological weapon if it is unleashed by the Separatists. Obi-wan Kenobi watching Anakin tie himself in to knots of anxiety wryly points out that Anakin seems a little “on edge”.
“There’s a good chance we’re about to destroy all life on this planet including ours and the senator so yes I’m a little on edge, why aren’t you?” replies Anakin with exasperation.
Obi-wan Kenobi shrugs nonchalantly, “I’m better at hiding it”.
In the face of pending grave danger and the deaths of countless life forms across the galaxy should the “Blue Shadow” Virus be released, Obi-wan Kenobi still maintains a calm and relaxed demeanor. Internally Obi-wan is likely as concerned as Anakin but is mindful enough to stay focused on the present rather than become carried away by an emotional response to something that has not happened yet. The deadly virus has not been released yet, it is still contained and efforts are underway to counter the threat.
Obi-wan Kenobi remains mindful of the present moment, his thoughts and emotions and responds in an objective manner to the present threat, choosing to deal with what he knows and not allow emotions such as fear or anxiety of something that has not happened yet sway his decisions. This is the Jedi way.
Anakin is keen to take action to save Padme and is later reminded once again by Obi-wan Kenobi, “A great leap forward sometimes requires two steps back”. To act on emotions is fraught with risk and sometimes it is better to pause, take a breath and think before acting or speaking during an emotionally charged moment. Fear and anger are two powerful emotions that most betray us, we often react to these emotions in ways that are less than positive and they often bring unwelcome outcomes.
Embrace and Let Go
Anger, fear and anxiety were three emotions that dominated my life for decades as an alcoholic. They stunted my growth as a person and caused ruined relationships, hurt the people I loved and gave me nothing but regrets and many tears. I was at the mercy of my emotions and had no idea how to deal with them believing to feel them was in some way abnormal. Much later I came to the realization that it is not things or circumstances that caused me harm or made me angry or fearful but simply my emotional response to them.
It was how I dealt with those emotions and acted on them. In the past I had used alcohol to help me deal with my erratic emotions and moods and often it made it much worse. I would be lost in dark clouds of anger and resentment for days or would awake in the middle of the night with a deep sense of fear. I had no idea why I felt the way I did and felt as if I were losing my mind.
During my recovery I learned to simply accept and observe my emotions as they came and resist the temptation to act on them. I would simply ride out the wave of anger or fear that surged through me without trying to fight it. It became apparent that to engage any emotion is to charge it. By fighting anger I was simply amplifying it and by trying to ignore fear I was throwing a cover over a monster, it was still there.
I would feel guilty about feeling resentful or self-pity and it just made things worse. By allowing those emotions to be and simply shining an inner light on them without judgment I would embrace them and let them go. The emotions would fire in their intensity and then fade away, replaced in time by a sense of peace. This is one of the many ways to Emotional Sobriety.
Erkhart Tolle describes a similar practice for dealing with negative emotions, the key ingredients are acceptance, forgiveness and mindfulness. I would also add objectivity; as a Jedi one must show reason and continuously explore the basis of their emotions. Ask why am I feeling this? Is this emotion valid? Does it serve?
Jedi choose to act in accordance with their principles and valued virtues rather than with raw emotion. We are human beings and the full spectrum of emotions don’t make us less of a human but more so. Jedi may not express in unhealthy ways their emotions, but they still feel them. Try being mindful and observing your moods and emotions that enter into consciousness through the day. Simply acknowledge them without reacting and let them go. In this way you can soon learn to be the master of your emotions rather than its servant.