Walking home tonight, I was doing my walking meditation. At times like this, my memories come much closer to the surface, when my mind is close to being clear. Then, I realized how much my memories are just feelings. After all is said and done, the things I had, the possessions, the relationships, they all just come down to feelings, and that is all that is left.
I could see that it is possible to control my own feelings. Not control as in a driver controls a car and decides where to drive it. Rather it is a kind of control like breathing. When I choose to do different patterns of breathing, then there is a corresponding change in my state. I can become sleepy, or excited and awake. In the same sense I can control my feelings although it is a rather indirect control.
I used to feel like I could not control my feelings. Sometimes a wave of despondency would wash over me and there was nothing I could do except wait until it subsided. Now, I can see that those feelings were compelled on my by my attachments.
I can't say just how or exactly why attachments can compel us to feel feelings. Imagine your favorite photo of your favorite person. You have an attachment to the photo. If the photo falls into jeopardy you may feel one of a range of feelings. Perhaps it's anxiety, or fear, or anger. Either way it's your attachment to the photo that compels you to feel those feelings. It might be possible to ignore the feelings or try to suppress them, but either way it's going to be a difficult battle if you're attachment is very strong. In this way our attachments control our feelings, or compelice to feel things. Most of the time, are attachments are very subtle. What I mean is we're not aware of them although they have powerful influences on us.
After 3 years of cleaning my mental and emotional baggage, I can say I'm starting to put a dent in the iceberg. I can see how my attachments have controlled me in the past and they don't control me as much today as they used to. I no longer fall into periods of despondency. I can't tell you how happy I am about that. And now I look forward to my emotional clearing practice more and more. But more and more, I also see that everything is just a feeling. Sure in my childhood, my bike was real. It's a thing outside of me. But for me, it's just a feeling. Some of those feelings are kinesthetic, like the cold medal of the bike or the soft seat. Some of those feelings are emotional like my attachment to the bike and how cool it is, or how angry I am about it being broken. Either way it's all just feelings.
It is taking me a long time to come to this realization. Explaining this here might be something that another person could read and understand. But I am confident they would not have the same level of realization, unless they came to the realization themselves independently. My writing here is just words, but it forms a signpost that people can follow and come to the realization themselves.