Today’s practice is about emotions. Our recent circumstances have increased the frequency of many emotions that are unpleasant ones, and at the same time, removed us from many of the activities that generate positive feelings for us. We can feel out of balance…frightened all the time, or down. This is a nearly universal experience. Right now, literally people all across the globe are experiencing degrees of this same experience. However, having something hurtful happen, or having many negative things happen to a person–so much so that it changes their ability to manage their life– is not new. The great news about this is that scientists and clinicians and mindfulness teachers have figured out what works to get us unstuck and back in balance. In order to cope and even thrive in such times, we must do two things: First, we must stop avoiding unpleasant emotions, and second, we must do things consciously and intentionally that create positive feelings.
Ok, so to begin, we need to understand a bit about how humans respond to a barrage of unpleasant emotions. When we know something will be quick, like getting a shot, we often brace ourselves and get though it. We might look away and distract ourselves until the pain of the injection is over and then we return to normal. But when the painful events come too fast or when we are unsure if they will ever stop, the strategy of avoidance or distracting one’s self backfires. We can find that emotions bubble up or explode in moments or anger or panic. We can feel irritable, bored, or so sad we can’t motivate to do anything. Ironically, it is often our fear of emotions rather than the moment of discomfort from checking in with a feeling of sadness or fear that gets us in trouble. It is our dread of what we might feel that is actually far worse than what we do feel, that keeps unpleasant emotions sticking around like a big grey cloud. When we feel and acknowledge feelings, they dissipate and it makes room for the next moment and for other feelings.
Part one of today’s practice is about turning in to feelings and not avoiding. Click below for a 10-Minute Meditation to work with difficult emotions
Part two of today’s practice is definitely easier…Watch this 1.5 minute video clip
Notice how you felt. Did you experience a pleasant emotion for just a minute? Make a list of three things you can do today that make you feel like that.
The Rest of Today
In order to get your balance back, you have to continue to plan and do pleasant activities and also stop pushing away the negative. So today, do your three (or more if you can) pleasant things and also practice recognizing and actually feeling your unpleasant emotions over and over. Instead of just talking about your feelings to your friends, eating to not feel them, or getting frozen in them, take a moment to lean into the feeling, take a breath, identify where you feel it in your body, and watch as it’s intensity decreases. pe into pleasant experiences fully without distraction.
I wish you a day peppered with enjoyable moments.