Mindfulness Activity #54
Mindfulness to Changing Emotions
Good Morning. Have you ever had the thought, “this day is ruined.” Often when we are in the midst of an emotion, we feel like it is a foregone conclusion that we can’t feel any different. If the situation bothering us isn’t changing, then our mood must stay the same. The world provides a variety of experiences. Lots of things might change our feelings, if even for a short break. But, the thing is that once we are feeling a particular way, we are prone to notice events or experiences that are consistent with that feeling. It can be said that feelings love themselves. This is especially true for negative events and feelings. Research shows that people who are depressed pay more attention to negative events around them. In other words, emotions can create filters that distort experience by causing us to pay more attention to some things more than others.
This is where mindfulness comes in. We can train ourselves to see without distortion and to balance what we take in. Sometimes we walk right past something beautiful because we are thinking of something that angers us or disappoints us.
We can see something negative and then dwell in it, watching it or thinking about it, discussing it with others…keeping it present—or, we can train ourselves to take in everything without biased selection. When we take in the world moment to moment, breathing, and connecting, chances are there will be some moments that are pleasant. Moreover, we can actually schedule our time to “tip the scales” so that we engage in activities we know will bring on pleasant feelings and a positive outlook.
Today’s mindfulness is designed to help you observe changes in your own feelings and to see how quickly feeling states can change if we attend to positive experiences.
So, for this practice sit comfortably, take a breath and notice any thoughts and feelings you might be having. Are you anticipating anything about your day?
Next, click this link and watch this 1.5 minute clip and simply notice your feelings moment to moment.
What did you notice about your experience? Did your emotions change? For many, your feelings changed easily. You might have found yourself smiling. For the rest of the day, consider how easy it was to change a feeling based on what you put in front of yourself.
If you did not experience a shift towards a pleasant emotion, perhaps it was because it’s difficult to let go of current thoughts and feelings. We have a tendency to want to cling to thoughts and feelings, especially negative ones. If this was true for you, try to observe the tendency to cling to or amplify negative thoughts. Try to use your senses to take in the present moment without distortion. Take a breath and notice the sensation of a deep breath and watch how it can help to break from a negative thought cycle.
Have a good day, and if it’s not, so good, choose an activity that changes your feelings.