Learn to mindfully open to your emotions.
Mindfulness teaches us to turn toward our emotions. Opening to emotions gives them space to be felt. This mindfulness practice can benefit one’s emotional well-being in a positive way. Unpleasant emotions like anger or stress, which may be hard to process, can start to feel lighter. Likewise, the pleasant feelings like joy and gratitude are enriched.
First, let’s talk about the unpleasant emotions. Pushing them away doesn’t work; the emotions are there, simply waiting to be felt. When emotions are unprocessed our well-being is in jeopardy. Opening to our struggles is the remedy to help relieve suffering.
Mindfulness has taught me when I’m struggling with challenging emotions I need to meet them as they are, without an intention to resolve anything.
I honour my emotions by pausing and mindfully breathing into them, being with them. This allows them space to open and the opportunity for me to feel. The only thing to do is to be with what is arising. I sit with the emotions as long as I need. And when things are really heavy, I sit longer. The outcome is more lightness and more ease.
Let’s not forget the feel-good emotions. I realised I would often take just a blink of an eye to feel into the love and happiness surrounding me. Now I spend more time with the goodness of life. When I focus my attention and presence into these moments I can literally feel my heart swell with happiness. The results? The sweet times are sweeter.
Consciously pausing to soak up the joys in life has enhanced my well-being.
I’m happier more often for sustained periods. I find gratitude in the simplest of things.
Check in with yourself. Are you mindfully present to both unpleasant and pleasant emotions?
Try this mindful practice to support your emotional well-being.
1. When an emotion arises, see if you can allow it to be as it is. Do as best you can to honour the presence of the emotions by pausing and mindfully breathing through the nose. Inhaling and exhaling.
2. As you breathe try to identify the emotion (sadness, stress, happiness, gratitude). Name what it is you’re feeling. This helps to bring awareness to what is arising.
3. Start to pay attention to where in your body you feel the sensations connected to the emotion. It could be in your belly, around your heart, your throat or somewhere else.
4. Observe the sensations with curiosity. Do they feel heavy, light, tingly, warm, spacious or tense? See if you can just feel into what is arising in your body from moment to moment as you breathe into the emotion.
5. Stay here. Breathe. This is opening to your emotions. Stay as long as you like. Be with the pain. Dwell in the joy.
This practice helps us to relate to our emotions with more ease. If unpleasant emotions are overwhelming, reach out to a professional for support. To explore this practice further, check out RAIN by Sharon Salzberg on Mindful.
Be kind to yourself and keep practicing.
Learn to Live Mindfully with Tara B.