Mindfulness of emotions is about observing the passing of emotions and emotional states, and the body sensations or feelings that accompany them, with gentleness, with playfulness if you like.
Through this practice together with mindfulness of the body on a daily basis, we begin to develop the ability to sense the onset of recurring, lifelong distress such as anxiety and depression. With this intelligence, we can take preventive steps such as more self-care than usual before a full blown episode.
Also we begin to really appreciate that emotions, feelings are dynamic, they are not our identity, they are not us, they are merely conditions that we are experiencing. Like weather patterns – we just accept them as they are and know when to bring the umbrella out with us.
The capacity for this diffusion means that we can choose not to be gripped by unwelcome emotions.
You are encouraged to practice Session 2 as well.
In this session, Mindfulness of Emotions, we are practicing viewing emotions as what they are — just emotions — with a sense of kindness, gentleness and playfulness if you wish.
Finding a comfortable sitting place, perhaps in your bedroom, or even in the bus or train.
Allowing the eyes to close if you wish.
Inviting the mind to feeling the posture of the body.
Where are the legs?
Where are the hands?
As best as you can, sitting as upright as possible.
The head feeling a sense of balance.
A soft front.
A straight back, not stiff.
Allowing the breath, the energy, an easy flow through the body.
Bringing the attention to breathing, allowing the attention to rest there.
The mind may get pulled away by thoughts, that is perfectly normal.
What we are needing to do is bringing the mind back to the motion of breathing, while feeling the body.
Acknowledging the body as you are inhaling, and then exhaling.
Feeling the belly rising with each inhaling, belly wall collapsing with each exhaling.
Breathing at a pace that calls to you.
Using the body to help you feel grounded and solid.
When you are ready, while keeping the breath in awareness, shifting the attention, very lightly, to the general sense of feelings that are here right this moment.
Feelings of pleasantness?
Or perhaps feelings of unpleasantness?
Or maybe feelings of neutral, or of no particular feeling?
Once you’ve sensed this general feeling, diving deeper, what would you label it?
Feelings of pleasantness for example calmness, stillness, peace.
Feelings of unpleasantness, for example restlessness, impatience, resentment.
Maybe feelings of neutral, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, not happy, not sad.
One more step deeper, feeling the intensity of the emotion.
Strong, light, moderate?
Just noticing without adding any judgment to it for example, what you need to do to fix this feeling.
Not needing to subtract anything from this experience, for example, judging that you need to push this feeling away.
Not needing to justify the reason and source of this experience.
We’re only needing to view this emotion as it is.
Only needing to give space or to cradle this emotion without adding opinions or trying to push it away.
Like a bird is a bird.
A tree is a tree.
Happiness is happiness.
Sadness is sadness.
Merely an emotion, a condition, a weather pattern.
If at any point, you are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps zooming out the attention slightly away from emotions to have more space, and if you wish to experimenting, viewing the emotions with a sense of playfulness.
“Ah, it is here again.”
“Oh there you are.”
“Hello, my friend.”
Noticing what happens when we continue to sit with emotions, not judging them, not needing to act on them.
There is also the option of mindfully shifting the posture to feel more at ease.
Or opening the eyes.
Or guiding the attention back to the breath or a body part that feels welcoming and safe, for example, the belly, the toes, fingers.
When you are ready as we are closing this practice, shifting the awareness to the breath and body in general.
Nothing more, nothing less.
I read you this poem — The Guest House, by Jalaludin Rumi.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
That was a poem by Rumi.
Thank you for your time.
Look out for Session 4 next Wednesday.
Guide: Noelle Lim
Image credit: Motoki Tonn, Unsplash
Session 2 is at https://kindermind.center/2023/04/05/10-week-pause-session-2-mindfulness-of-body/