Have you ever had an argument and later felt confused or embarrassed by the things you said or did? Maybe it felt like you weren’t yourself, you were out of control or your emotions overwhelmed you. Or maybe you had a thought or feeling that you couldn’t get rid of no matter how hard you tried? Or you had a really strong emotion that seems to stop you being able to focus on anything else?
Well you’re not alone. This is how strong emotions can affect our lives and everybody has experiences like this. The problem isn’t with our emotions though, emotions are good and very useful. We sometimes just don’t have the strength or training to be able to experience them, especially if they are intense, and so they overwhelm us.
However, just like jumping into an ice cold pool of water, strong emotions are something we can develop a greater capacity for experiencing. This might not seem like a very useful skill at face value. After all our feelings are designed to make us react. Why would you not want to scream if you are angry or cry if you are sad or laugh if you are happy? That’s because sometimes emotions make us act, or react, in ways that aren’t useful or that move us away from the life we want to live. <strong>So if we develop a greater capacity to allow ourselves to feel our emotions, we can choose make better decisions on how we want to respond to how we are feeling.</strong>
This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness as a practice is helping more and more people around the world to work with their emotions in a meaningful way. Unfortunatey, many people either don’t know what mindfulness is, or have misconceptions of how it works or how it can be applied.
One way that mindfulness can help with the stresses of modern life is that it fosters a greater capacity to experience thoughts and emotions without getting swept up by them. The way that it does this is relatively simple, but like most things, requires some practice.
In a nutshell, a common mindfulness practice is to sit quietly and observe the sensations in your body (most emotions are felt most strongly in the body). The trick here is to notice the sensations without judgement. So if you have a good feeling, a neutral feeling or a bad feeling you just notice the feeling and not do anything about it. You just notice and observe. This may seem counter-intuitive, especially if you have an itchy nose, but in many cases the feelings will arise and then pass away or they will change in some way.
In time you will be able to notice stronger and stronger feelings without getting caught up in the reactions to those feelings. In other words you will train yourself to be able to hold a space for your feelings to “just be” for a little while before deciding what to do about them.
Usually when we feel a strong emotion we might want to get away from it or make it go away. We do different things to try and escape our emotions: sometimes we run away from the people who support us, sometimes we blame others for our emotions and try to make those people go away, and often we do things to ourselves just so that we can feel something different.
With mindfulness we can hold our emotions, honour them and become better at expressing them in a useful way. And this is just one way that mindfulness can help us all navigate the world a little better. So if this is something that you would be interested in learning more about book an appointment with me today and let’s begin creating a more conscious and meaningful life together.