Throughout your day check in on how you feel. Are you feeling light and free? Do you have a knotted feeling in your stomach? Are your palms sweaty or is there pressure on your chest?
Does any physical feeling sit alongside an emotion? Are you feeling relaxed? Fearful? Excited? Angry?
What has caused this feeling to arise? Is there something happening in this moment to cause it or is your body reacting to thoughts you’ve been having?
Thoughts have the power to cause a physical feeling to develop in the body. As we become aware of this relationship we can explore our role in feeding thoughts with a compassionate curiosity.
Under the light of awareness we see the possibility of a new type of relationship, a partnership of understanding and connectivity. This light may at times dim, obscured when we drift into distraction. Yet its shine can be brightened as we simply remind ourselves that the quality of our attention is the source of energy feeding this.
If you find yourself feeling stressed then you have some options:
- you can engage in thinking around the feeling and witness how that usually increases the feeling
- you can try returning your attention to something in the present moment, an object, a sound, your breath and see if the feeling disappears
- you can focus on the feeling itself, locate it in the body and feel it rather than think about it and see how it changes
The first option seems to be both unhelpful and a waste of time. So it’s up to you to decide whether to distract yourself or deal with the feeling head-on depending on what is more appropriate to the situation you find yourself in. We can very quickly retrain our minds using this technique.
Own your emotions
Your emotion belongs to you. The words or actions of others may leave you feeling incredibly angry, but your anger is you being angry – you are the one that carries that around, you are the one it makes feel bad. Once we recognise emotions as our own, alongside watching our thoughts, we can see when we are adding fuel to those emotions through our thinking.
Stressors will be stressors but it is our stress
We’ve all had times that we’ve ‘lost it’ where an emotion has erupted from inside us and we have lost control of ourselves in some way; what if you never had to do that again? If we can put some distance between our thoughts and feelings, watching them as they arise, then we have a chance to catch an emotion before it takes us over; to witness it instead of reacting to it. It is not that the emotion shouldn’t be there, to feel is human, but as developed humans we have control of our actions.
Emotion is what makes us human
It is totally normal to feel the full range of emotion – that’s how we experience the full spectrum of what it is to be alive. Yet we deny ourselves the full human experience by turning away from anything uncomfortable; rather than accepting uncomfortable emotions we resist them and attempt to cure them, creating instead a continuous state of ‘wanting’. In the Western world we rarely accept hunger or pain, seeking a constant condition of comfort; the underlying purpose of our lives becomes one of maintaining this condition and yet we are left with an emptiness.
We can blame other people for making us feel bad, however, it is our reaction to them that made us feel bad. You can catch this as it occurs, recognise the thinking this has caused and decide how you want to think and as a result how you feel. Often we have no power over something which happens but we do have power over the way we react, or hopefully respond; this is our greatest power and the way we exercise this will shape our journey through life.
There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path, and it is in every step along our way.
Use your energy wisely
When you feel an emotion rising in the body surrender to where you are now and accept it. When we resist an emotion, that only causes us more pain. If the emotion has already arrived there is no point resisting it or thinking about it, instead just feel it.
You can go about making changes but you can’t change what has already happened so don’t use your energy to fight that, accept it, move on.
It may sound a difficult thing to do but we need to accept all of the emotions which arise in the body. When we run away from an emotion it chases us and like it or not it will catch up with us eventually.
Stop running, sit still and allow your emotions to be as they are. Once we sit with it we transform it.
BOOM – you don’t need to be afraid any more.
Frances Trussell’s passion lies in making the magic of mindfulness accessible to all. Having suffered from severe depression since her teens the former broadcast journalists’ life was transformed through mindfulness. She has helped many hundreds of people find a mindfully happy way of living. In January 2017 she featured as a mindfulness coach on ITV1 prime time show Sugar Free Farm. A pioneer of Mindfulness-based RT Therapy, Frances advises on mindfulness in schools, charities, public sector employers and private businesses. She lives in Surrey, UK.
Frances Trussell shares her mindfulness teachings in her new little book You Are Not Your Thoughts. Born out of personal experience she wants to teach others that there is a way out of anxiety and depression and that is the ‘mindful way’.