Be Present to Negative Emotions

Go ahead and embrace the importance of negative emotion. Your emotions and the way you feel is your guidance system and it is telling you everything you need to know.

If you feel negative emotion, then you are either resisting how things are in the present moment, resisting something that was in the past, or resisting something that you think might be in the future.

Take a moment to reflect on this and see if this is true for you.

As human beings lost in our own stories, we immediately point to the outside world to create excuses as to why we can’t be happy and at peace right now.

We tell ourselves ”If that had turned out differently, then I’d be happy.
If he/she hadn’t done that to me, then I’d be happy.
If this goes the way the I want it to go, then I’ll be happy”

The moment you stop resisting life and pointing fingers at the outside world, the more a deep sense of joy and inner freedom will arise within you.

You’re an eternal being. Your consciousness cannot be destroyed. The greatest joy that you can feel is when your being comes into alignment with the very deepest, eternal, aspect of your consciousness.

What’s the one thing that you can do to allow your soul to come into alignment? Resist nothing. Surrender to everything that arises in the present moment without judgment.

Everything that you are searching for will arise from within you at a deeper and more profound level when you stop resisting what is happening.

Namaste

Find Balance After Being Triggered – 6 tools to use

Its part of our human nature to become annoyed and angry when we feel threatened or things don’t go our way. Irritation and frustration seem to go hand in hand with the fast paced demands of life today.

We humans also have a “fight or flight” response when we feel threatened. It helped our ancestors survive when facing sabre toothed tigers. Nowadays, we can have the same response when someone cuts us off on the road, a colleague takes credit for a piece of our work, or we feel we are being treated unfairly…

Whether the threat is real, or in our imagination, the mind and body reacts in exactly the same way.  Our brains and bodies are flooded in a chemical bath. There is a rush of adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream, blood is sent to the extremities and the heart, digestion is put on hold, muscles tense. We are ready to bounce or run!

fight or flight

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness” ~ Viktor Frankl

“You can’t stop the waves but your can learn to surf” ~ Jon Kabat Zinn.

ooOoo

Here are 6 tools you can use to calm the body and mind’s response to center yourself:

1. Breathe. At the first moment you realize you are experiencing annoyance or anger, bring awareness to your breath. Take several full breaths focusing on the exhale to release that tension and energy. Then slow it down. Making the inhale and exhale long and even.

This will help invoke the body’s relaxation response and give you time to access your higher brain for making a decision on how to proceed.

breath awareness

2. Calm Body and Mind. Try these calming techniques for body and mind.

  • Bring a hand to my belly, to encourage fuller breathing and to feel more grounded. I also like to put a hand on my heart to initiate a mammalian soothing response. Try it and see. Feel the warmth from your palm and allow it to calm and soothe your heart.
  • Bring a finger tip to your lips can also have an immediate calming affect on the body
  • To create a new neural pathway in the brain . You may also like to add a word to say or phrase on the exhale. For example “release” or “let it go” or “have patience” or “be calm”.
  • If you are more visual, then bring to mind the image of someone you love or a place that calms you. Have it on your smart phone, ready to be accessed in a moment.

Take a moment and reflect on what would work for you…

3. Release the Tension Our body also needs to release the tension that is part of the fight or flight response. Animals naturally shake off this tension after conflict, but we humans have lost that natural ability to release it. Moving your body is important. Get out of your head and into your body to deal with the physical response.

Here are some examples:stretch

  • Find a private place to practice sun breaths (full movement of the arms with the breath)
  • Stretch the body! Stamp your feet into the ground then reach for the sky. Imagine the energy being released downwards and then upwards.
  • Run up and down stairs
  • Get outside for a walk or a run.
  • Practice “meshing”. Visualize yourself as porous as a mesh screen. As you encounter strong feelings welling up (for example, anger, fear, resentment), let the feelings pass through your body. Observes the intense feelings moving through.
  • Pretend you are in a sitcom, and appreciate the humor in every absurd situation. The challenging times are often similar to scenes in a bad comedy, especially if they are of our own making. Laugh about it. Laughter releases physical tension too!

Take a moment and consider what would release tension for you…

man reflecting4. Reflect. With blood now accessing your higher brain you can reflect on what has just happened.
Where is the emotion coming from? Is there a history behind it?
Explain it to yourself. “I’m annoyed right now because ….” This reflection may be enough to detach yourself from the emotional reaction. Don’t be quick to judge, based on your own reaction. You don’t know what the other person might be struggling with, or what is going on in their life. If you are cut off in the car, it may be that that person really does have an family emergency.

5. Switch Perspectives. Be an observer of the situation. Imagine you are an observer and play back what just happened. Let go of judgment or getting caught up in your side of the story.

Be the narrator of the scene that just occurred. Notice when emotions come up and try to step back into the observer role again. Keeping a detached distance will allow you to find your center and balance. 

Try to see the other person’s point of view. Don’t be quick to judge, based on your reaction. You don’t know what they might be struggling with or what is going on in their life. If you are cut off in the car, it may be that that person really does have an family emergency.

water lilies in calm water

6. Have a Mantra or Axiom. Choose a go-to phrase that means something to you that will help you maintain this observer mindset:

Here are some examples:

  • Everyone wants to be happy.
  • This person is acting this way because he thinks it will make him happy.
  • People who are a pain are usually in pain.
  • Recite the Serenity Prayer. ““God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Trust in time. What seems bad now will not always be so.
  • Lighten up. Things happen. Don’t take it all so seriously. What really matters here?
 Ask yourself “Is this worth fighting for” or is there something more important here.
  • Which is more important – Being right or this relationship?
  • Move from reaction to action. What part have I played in bringing this about? What can I do to make this better?

Take time and reflect on what would work for you…

ooOoo

Having a set of tools to use in the heat of the moment is really helpful, but will only help at that moment. Research has shown that having a regular practice of meditation helps us to step back and access this observer mindset so that we find our balance more and more easily.
 With practice over time, we will not react so strongly as we accept all our emotions as our teachers and friends.

Namaste

* Inspiration – conflict

conflict

“We feel conflict.

The conflict we feel is not a problem.

It is a messenger.

We do not need help; we need only understand that there is no choice in life but to follow the conflict where it takes us.

If we are prepared to go there, we may discover the actuality of self and the nature of our sorrow.”

~ Steven Harrison

This is a message I wish I had heard many years ago. Although, to be frank, I probably would not have been ready to hear it!

All emotions are messengers and reflect a deeper state of our being. As long as we avoid looking at the uncomfortable ones we limit our growth and ability to connect fully to our higher Self and life.

Our ego mind will tell us we shouldn’t be feeling these feelings and judge us for not being better than this.

Yet it isn’t a problem. There is no better or worse.

Let go of judging how you think you should be.

Allow your mind to be open to it. And then your heart.

Be kind and compassionate towards yourself, until you are ready to follow where the feeling takes you.

 Namaste

* Choose your Thinking and Change your Life

flower and butterfly

Google Image

 

“Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness, and dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness.” ~ The Buddha

Modern research concurs. We cannot be relaxed and stressed at the same time … or grateful and resentful …  or forgiving and vengeful.
When we bring awareness to the present moment we can’t be regretting the past, or worrying about the future.

Quite simply, we cannot experience both positive emotions and negative emotions at the same time. Try to hold both at the same time right now. It isn’t possible.

Anxiety and relaxation can’t coexist. Neither can resentment and gratitude. When we become aware, we can choose to let gratitude in. We can choose to forgive… be kind… relax…

So, the next time you’re feeling anxious, see if you can deliberately relax by breathing deeply, releasing the tension in your body and smiling.

And, when you’re feeling resentful towards life or someone in it, see if you can let that emotion go by focusing on something you are truly grateful for.

Come into the present moment, notice without judgment your thoughts and feelings, then choose from your heart.
It will change your life.

Namaste

* Why our Brains Aren’t Tuned into the Good

watching tv on cell phone

I listened to an interview with Danial Goleman the other day. He is a neuro psychologist and is known for identifying the elements of Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Awareness of our emotions, mastery of our emotions, awareness of other’s emotions and empathy, our ability to build relationships.

He was talking about the different parts of our brains and what their purpose is. The conversation turned to why its so hard for us to set aside our cellphones or turn off the news.

Our limbic (animal) brain is always on alert for threats. When we sense a threat, it goes into action and stimulates our prefrontal cortex (analytical) brain – “what can we do about this?” .

Fear is very stimulating to our brains. Neurons love being fired up.

So it makes sense that when the media focus on danger and threats, it engages us more and more. The immediacy of cellphones stimulates this too. There is so much demanding our alert attention and we let it, because we are wired to react.

But what about love, peace and gratitude?  Its a state of being that most of us long for, but it’s affect is calming and soothing. In an animal that is hard wired to react to danger and figure things out, it does seem somewhat boring.

Human beings are not wired for serenity, but we can re-wire our brain through mindful awareness and meditation. It only takes a moment to pause, breathe and find our middle ground.

Its easy to understand that it takes awareness, some effort and committed practice if we want to nourish and expand the calming part of our brains. Only then can we go beyond our thinking mind and into a place where we can fully feel the good: Love. Gratitude. Peace.

Of course, we must also expect resistant thinking and diversions along the way. Remember, there’s nothing wrong when we get distracted, its simply natural.

Namaste

* First Step to Forgiveness

So many of life’s experiences challenge us and give us the opportunity to learn and grow – especially in relationship to others and getting to know our authentic selves. As we grow in awareness, we take responsibility for all our experiences and our feelings. With patience and practice we stop blaming others and learn to look inside ourselves instead, with curiosity and compassion.

power struggle

This is the first step in being able to forgive. In order to truly forgive an other we must  take responsibility for our own feelings. We have to own how we feel and acknowledge all that is going on inside of us.

Although someone else has said or done something that distresses us, these are our feelings.

The action of the other has triggered a tender vulnerable part of us. When we become reactive and defensive, we lose touch with the real issue (what we are feeling) and it becomes all about them.

This triggered reaction is part of our survival mechanism. Yet it is our ego and smaller self that defends and holds on to resentment. Our heart and higher Self only wants to love.

We can’t make anyone else change, but we can change ourselves. We do that by acknowledging what is happening, shifting our thinking… and letting go of the need to be right.

Owning our feelings is one of the most important steps in growing from an adult into a loving mature human being.

The next time you feel resentment towards someone else, bring your attention inwards instead. Ask yourself:

“Do I really want to feel this way?”

“What is really happening here?”

“How have I contributed to this?”

“What is my heart telling me?”

“What do I need to let go of?”

… “Am I ready to forgive?”

Namaste

* Making Friends with our Emotions

I am grateful to work with clients who want to find their middle ground. A big part of this is becoming aware of what gets in the way and making friends with our emotions.  This poem by Chade Meng Tan is taken from his book Search Inside Yourself. It is inspired by Rumi’s The Guest House and the work of Mingyur Rinpoche, as well as the Tale of the Two Wolves.

Real monsteres

My monsters come in different shapes and sizes.
Over the years I have learned to deal with them.
I do that by letting go.

First, I let go of my wish to suppress them.
When they arrive, I acknowledge them
I let them be

Next, I let go of my instinct to vilify them.
I seek to understand them.
I see them for who they are.

They are merely creations of my body and mind.
I humor them a little.
I joke with them.
I joke about them.
I let them play.

Then I let go of my desire to feed them.
They may play here all they want.
but they get no food from me.

They are free to stay here hungry if they want.
I continue to let them be.
Then they get really hungry.
And sometimes they leave.

Finally, I let go of my desire to hold on to them.
They are free to leave as they wish.
I let them go.
I am free.
For now.

I do not overcome them.
They do not overcome me.
And we live together
In harmony

 

Mindful awareness… letting go… accepting emotions for what they are … and finding life in balance.

Aahhh … now that feels better.