Difficult Emotions

Feel It

A MEDITATION ON ANGER AND DIFFICULT EMOTIONS

Anger. It’s not an emotion I experience very often. (Anxiety is more a friend of mine.) But on a recent trip to Sydney and free tickets to Wet n Wild, we bundled the kids into the car with our beach towels and headed off on the 60-minute drive out west. Only to arrive Griswalds-style at locked gates and an empty carpark.

Cue the blame: I thought you checked the opening hours?! Yeah, well I thought YOU checked the opening DAYS!

What is this unfamiliar feeling? Oh, hello anger. Here’s what I’m going to do with you.

Read or listen, the choice is yours. xx

It’s normal to want to push away or bury a difficult emotion. Anger, sadness, grief, fear and anxiety. Who wants those in their life?

But when we push away negative feelings, what we’re actually experiencing, isn’t just the emotion itself – but also, the resistance to that emotion. Clenched muscles. Tight chest. Clammy palms. Short breath. All physical responses of trying to run away from ourselves.

What if we could pause and mindfully notice each stage of the emotion we’re trying to run from? Really feel the emotion?

We might find that the icky moments of dread don’t actually last as long as the resistance of not trying to feel it in the first place. That the clenched jaw and tight chest are a product of the aversion.

We can truly feel it, realise it’s not as bad as we thought, and move on – OR – we can feel it and honour it, knowing that to feel it is to get through it.

What’s great about truly feeling our emotions is that we can do the same for the positive ones. We can allow ourselves the joy of sitting with a pleasant experience – laughter, excitement, contentment, achievement – rather than cutting it short with distractions or letting our inner critic convince us we’re not deserving.

MEDITATION

For this meditation let’s practice tuning into our emotions by applying the simple phrase “feel it” to each emotion that arises.

Angry at your partner – feel it.

A busy mind – feel it.

Worry about finances or work – feel it.

Doubting our abilities – feel it.

Grieving a lost loved one – feel it.

Suffering with pain and illness – feel it.

Feel what the physical sensation of the emotion is like – where it presents itself. In your heart. In your belly. Jaw and temples.

Notice the difference the emotion feels like when you allow it to be there.

Relax your belly. Relax your jaw. Relax your shoulders.

Strip away the outer packaging of resistance and truly feel the emotion for itself.

And when you’re done inviting the negative emotions to hang around for a while, don’t forget to be a good host to pleasant ones as well.

Relaxed and happy – feel it.

Excitement about a holiday – feel it.

Grateful for life – feel it.

Empathy for a loved one’s struggle – feel it.

Calm and content – feel it.

Feel the joys and sorrows of all experience. The joys and sorrows of of this one beautiful life.

Loving Kindness

Receiving

A MEDITATION ON LONELINESS AND SELF-COMPASSION

After a 12-month experiment being vegetarian and loving it, I’ve recently decided to ditch dairy and eggs too and embrace a vegan lifestyle. After the first few inspired weeks of learning new recipes (thank you, Minimalist Baker) and tapping into the feeling that I’m doing a great thing for animals, the environment and my health, I found myself in a low. Doubt creeping in. Why am I doing this?

And I realise, it’s not because it takes a bit more effort in meal prep (I’m still cooking two versions of meals for my family), or that I’m giving up milk chocolate and ice cream (Peter’s Original, it’s a sad farewell), but it mainly boils down to the fact that I’m doing this thing alone. Despite being surrounded by those who love me most, I wasn’t prepared to experience loneliness.

This meditation came up as a way of countering that loneliness – an act of self-compassion we can all use a bit more of – a practice in balancing giving with receiving.

Listen or read, whatever you please. xx

Sometimes we give so much of ourselves – whether it’s a for a cause, our relationships or our work – that we forget also to take care of ourselves. We forget that we are as deserving of our compassion and love as the others who we so easily shower it upon.

And whilst it’s truly wonderful to adopt an others-focused mentality – it takes us away from our problems and makes us realise that there’s always someone much worse off than we are – if we’re only giving, we’re out there on our own. It’s a one-way street. And that’s when loneliness can set in.

When we’re giving unconditionally, we’re not expecting anything in return, but that doesn’t mean we can’t receive loving energy back. We can restore balance by receiving the gifts that others are offering – their generosity, their patience, their friendship, their love.

We can do this out in the world with those we know; those we love, or we can do this metaphorically, knowing there are other likeminded givers out there sending love and compassion for others to receive.

If we can tap into the connectedness of giving and receiving, we create a two-way street, and those feelings of loneliness can pass on by.

MEDITATION

As you sit in stillness, open yourself up to receive. Your heart. Your mind. Sitting with a gentle smile knowing that to receive the gifts of others is an act of giving in itself. Being open to receive with gratitude and thanks.

During your meditation repeat the phrase receiving and apply it to what you most need right now.

Receiving friendship.

Receiving courage.

Receiving energy.

Receiving trust.

Receiving faith.

Receiving kindness.

Receiving generosity.

Receiving love.

See what it’s like to practice compassionate receiving, to fill up your tank with another’s love.

Enjoy.

Difficult Emotions, Open Awareness

Stay

A MEDITATION ON FEAR, DISCOMFORT AND CHALLENGES

One of my favourite meditations on the Buddhify app is “Space” by Emily Horn. I love the idea of an acronym to keep you grounded during meditation. Connecting with the power of words as an object of meditation (RAIN by Michelle McDonald is perhaps the first and most well-known mindfulness acronym.)

Inspiration for my own mediations come at the most unlikely of times – for this one, it was in the car, listening to Leo Babauta on the Rich Roll podcast, whilst on my way to pick up trophies for my Toastmasters club. When their conversation turned to running, bam! there it was. An idea for a meditation on dealing with difficulty.

Listen or read, whatever you choose. Enjoy xx.

Too often we are the runner. Running away from discomfort. Running away from painful emotions. From people who push our buttons. From things that we fear.

We run away… and we also run towards. Towards distractions like food, phones and Facebook.

And whilst running might be great for our bodies – it’s not that great for our minds.

So in this practice we’re going to try a different kind of training. The training to stay.

So that instead of running from discomfort. We stay, and let it run through us.

Instead of running from our challenges, we sit with them, and let them run their course.

We can run from life, or we can observe it – we don’t need to do all the heavy lifting. All we need to do is get still. Train ourselves to watch. To observe. To be curious.

We don’t need to be the runner. All we need to do is stay.

Meditation

In this meditation, let’s play with the idea of staying, by using the acronym STAY as our anchor to the present moment.

S – T – A – Y

Sit  –  Tether  –  Allow  –  Yes.

S: Sit – sitting up straight, watching our posture. Letting the energy flow along our spine.

T: Tether – Tethering ourselves to the present moment like a puppy on lead. Watching our thoughts. Being aware. Bringing ourselves back when we realise we’ve wandered off.

A: Allow – giving ourselves permission to be here, allowing ourselves this precious time to sit and get still. That this time of quiet is as worthy, if not more, as crossing things off our never ending to do lists.

Y: Yes – saying yes to all of experience as it unfolds during this time. Yes to the thoughts. Yes to sounds. Yes to the busyness. Yes to the aches and pains. Yes to the anxiety. Yes to gratitude, yes to joy, yes to love.

Stay.

Stay.

Stay.