I was twelve when I first read about this strange Eastern religion in which people cultivated detachment. I didn't like the sound of that - cold, not human. Having emotions seemed to me the essence of personhood. I came to know people, though, who were firmly attached to their anger, who defined themselves by their resentments. How tiresome that is, how stuck.
And, in the wake of the massive doses of steroids I was given two months ago for my kidney transplant, I am keenly aware of how fast destructive emotion can arise out of the body's chemical uproar, and how hard it is to keep from venting it and letting it increase. Insofar as I can do this, I owe it to years of meditation. Sometimes people say meditation is useless, totally useless. I can't agree.
Below, from Tricycle. The image is the Stroop test, explained in the article, where the speakers are also identified.
Bennett Shapiro: Could attention training also help in dealing with destructive emotions?
Matthieu Ricard: Yes. In the same way we can learn to see only the colors of words and not their meanings, cultivating focused attention can help us become much quicker at recognizing what type of emotion is arising without being distracted by context or story line.
B. Alan Wallace: If, when anger or another afflictive emotion arises, you can say to yourself, “Never mind the object of my anger and the context; isn’t this interesting?” and investigate your own emotional state instead of merely reacting, you can also cultivate greater emotional balance and mental health.