The Foci Exercise For Emotional Control: Apprentice

J.C. LaCroix Emotional Mastery

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The Foci for Emotional Control

The Foci for Emotional Control

Often, when one first starts out on the path, the first thing that is summoned up is a deep pool of fear or dread. It is overwhelming, almost paralyzing. It seems to be a fountain of fear that doesn’t have a source, what Freud called a “free-floating anxiety”. Of course, that fear was always there, and the individual always conscious of it to some degree, but the nature of Darkworking is to turn inwards and tune-in to the self.

It’s like putting a microphone up to all your inner issues.

Trust me, no one gets only pleasant white noise from this process.

So, we do a little work, simply noting the fear in the back of our minds (often, with one mental finger raised, shhhhhh). Then, once we start to gain ground, to show signs of achievement, the fear surges like a tsunami, and we fail. Slinking back down into self-loathing, frustration, and depression. We thrash around for a while, then our inner voices calm, and we rest. One day, the same desire to change crops in, and we try again. Progress. Wave. Pull-down. This cycle can go on for years. Usually, pride is what prevents one from being honest about this situation. But, let me ask you this question. If you love yourself, do you not also love your weakness? Marilyn Monroe had her mole. Hercules had his naïve outlook. Steve Jobs was fucking bald. The insight here is that which is divine has no flaws, only marks of identity. Here is some antidote for the poison.

The Theory

What usually lies at the bottom of this fear is self-doubt. And, inside, we know a more self-centered approach will break the cycle, but we hold back. One asks commonly, “Can I really be that cold to others? Am I cut out for this? Will I abandon myself and become something I hate?” First, let me answer all these questions: No. You only have to be as cold as you want to be, the trick is to be comfortable with what you want in a given moment. If you want to be kind, you will be kind. Also, no one is “cut out” for Darkworking, because no one is a natural at it — it is a tool, not a calling. Thus, that is like asking, am I cut out to use a screwdriver? Everyone is, if they choose to learn how, and the tool itself is designed to be user friendly. Finally, you cannot “abandon yourself” in Darkworking. Ultimately, the path teaches to know yourself and be true to what you want. Hence, if you ever want to stop progress, then you simply do that. Ultimately, that’s like someone leaving their house with no destination other than where their whim takes them, and worrying about getting lost.

Few absolutes exist in this world. However, there is no escaping this simple truth, Darkworker:

To walk the Path you must develop a degree of control over your emotions. It is not optional, indeed, it is pivotal.

This is not to say that you should shun what you feel – far from it. What you must do, in fact, is develop the ability to summon what you feel as it should suit your purposes. In this way, you will increase your power. More importantly, you will isolate out those emotions that you cannot control, learning to discern passing feelings from expressions of the Self. On a more practical level, thanks to George Lucas and Star Wars, everyone knows that a Darkworker must ultimately learn how to use their fear. And, that’s great to know. But, the connecting of the dots is the problem. How, exactly, do you grab your fear, and push it to your own ends? The Sith gave us the mental jewelry, without the catalogue. So, lets make an order form.

Primarily, understand that you cannot use what you do not control, even more true if it is controlling you.

Secondarily, realize the fact that you cannot fully control what you do not completely understand. In short, you cannot harness the fear because you have not mastered it. You have not mastered it because you have not realized the truth of its nature….

The Process

Now, what we will do is to create a pathway to develop our emotional muscles. That’s right. Any time you attempt to control your emotions you are using a specific region in your brain, specifically in your cerebrum. The job of this part of your brain is to tell you no, like a stern parent. The problem is, most people never realize that this area of the brain needs training, and even if they do, they either don’t know how or over-train and burn out in a gluttonous fireworks show. This is why addicts get farther without relapse each time they go to rehab. In effect, they have made their no-muscle stronger. Importantly for our purposes, this muscle controls not only what you do, but what you feel. We need to toughen it up. Also, we need to generate understanding. Remember, the first axiom is Know Thyself. So, we need a process that slows down the emotions, so we can break them apart.

For use during the exercise, here is the foci mantra, simply note it for later:

  • I must accept before I can transmute.
  • I may accept that which I respect.
  • I respect what I can control.
  • I can control that which is worthy.
  • I am worthy because I transmute.

Now, without further ado, here is the process:

  1. Find an object, or better yet, purchase one new. The Key part is, this object must have NO emotional associations, not from past, present, or future expectations-desires. Ideally, it should be something simple, with no inherent meaning, like a block of wood (this is what I use). For example, a bracelet your ex gave you is a bad idea (because of past association). Likewise, a pleasant vase pre-disposes us towards certain emotions, so it is not well suited to the task at hand.
  2. Sit in a relaxed place, comfortably. Put on music. Get a massage. Stretch. Do whatever it takes to become as relaxed as you can.
  3. Gaze at the object. Repeat the above mantras if you are getting snagged or having a hard time with the exercise. Once is all that is necessary, but go nuts if you feel like it, it’s your universe.
  4. Enter a neutral state. Simply contemplate the object, intellectually. Take note of its qualities, notice the details, breath and take it all in.

At this point you will leverage a technique that is very old. It has found popular application in Buddhism, some Pagan rituals in modified form, and it is a somewhat adjusted form of exposure therapy. It also has heavy application in stage and film theatre exercises. What we are adding to it is what is called the dualities. You see, every emotion is ultimately the expression of an attraction or an aversion to some phenomena. For example, to love something is to be attracted to and desire its presence. To hate something is to avert from and desire the removal of its presence. In its most extreme form to love something is to desire complete union with it (24-7 attraction), and the extreme of hate is to desire the complete and total destruction of a thing (24-7 aversion). What is interesting is that there is a very thin line between love and hate. Moving from loving someone (because of how they make you feel so damn alive), to hating them (because of what they did that makes you feel so awful) can happen in the blink of an eye. And, the more you love someone, the more you will probably hate them should they cause hate to arise in you. What this reveals is that they are the same passion, driven in a different direction. The opposite of love and hate (and truly, all the dualities) is, of course, indifference. So, we can see love and hate as one duality. There are actually six:

  • Love/Hate
  • Joy/Sadness
  • Compassion/Disgust
  • Guilt/Pride
  • Boredom/Excitement
  • Fear/Anger.
  • Finally, is the master duality, the 7th, even though it describes extreme states, attraction/aversion to existence itself: Indifference/Obsession

I will expound on these at a later time, but keep them in mind.

Now, you will run the dualities with the object. First, you will connect with the given emotion. You will do this by going back in your mind to memories, or thinking about scenarios, whatever works best for you. Do not be concerned with how much of the given emotion you generate, and don’t pick hairs between same types (don’t worry about happiness versus joy, for example) just get the categories correct. When you have generated the emotion, begin to think thoughts about the object that are congruent with the emotion. In the case of love, you might think, “I love this thing. It’s been with me for so long. It is always there. I’m glad it’s around”. Then, you will rapidly shift into the corresponding duality emotion. So, for hate, you might think, “This damn thing, always a burden. It just sits there, doing nothing. Why do they make me keep it? I should burn it”. It is important to let them just roll over, and not to think you have to stop loving now and immediately start hating, let the emotions blend into each other. Finally, you will reach Indifference/Obsession. In this case, the emotion you are feeling doesn’t matter. You must muster as much “not caring” as you can in indifference, and with obsession you can feel whatever you want, so long as you shut out all else but the object. In this sense, you will see that this is more of a mental state…how your attention is functioning, more than anything.

You should repeat this exercise, at least once a day, for thirty days.


What is in it for you? First, you are building discipline, by creating a new daily habit. In short, you’re flexing that no-muscle. In addition, you are learning about yourself, in that you are learning what triggers cause which emotions in you, and to what degree, via exploration. More importantly, this ultimately leads you more and more to the insight that you can feel whatever you choose. You are separating your emotions from their autopilot by seeing into their real nature: A thing arises, an event happens. You make a judgment about it. This creates thoughts. Those thoughts give rise to given emotions. Ultimately, you realize that all things in the world are just like the object. Slowly, you begin to be able to control your emotional flow. This is emotional mastery. It is the path to ascendancy, in that you are no longer sleeping, doing what your instincts tell you like an animal. You are becoming human by taking up the reigns and guiding your destination. Now, when a thing occurs, you will still begin to feel your natural reaction, but you will be conscious of it. It is like stepping out in front of a curtain on stage. The curtain is still there, but now the attention is on you, the emotional veil being parted. With this skill, you can reach out and change the flow, or cancel it entirely. Most important of all, you will, over time, release the inner essence of the dualities. You will see that those emotions that are paired together are, in fact, the same energy. Think of it like the tide, and you are standing on the beach. The tide rushes in, and it sounds one way, and the tide rushes out, and in sounds different. The dualities are the same in this sense, each emotion appears different on the surface. However, the tide is the same energy, just appearing different based on if it is flowing towards you or away from you.

Here are some scenarios:

  • You walk in on your cheating lover. Rage arises. You instead conjur ambivalence and disgust. Your former lover is crushed. (Tested from experience, relatively recently)
  • The boss forces you to go to an RV exposition. Boredom takes hold. You transmute to excitement and get a promotion.
  • You’re out with a date and a bum asks you for some change. You feel disgust, shifting to compassion, your date…adores you…all night long. 😉

Once this exercise has fully developed within, to an average level of competence, the Darkworker is ready to begin working with fear as a fuel, safely. This exercise cannot be understated, and is of imminent use to anyone, on any path. However, for Darkworkers, it should be practiced throughout the entirety of their journey.