Difficult Emotions

Find Calm


You know what it’s like when a big emotion sweeps you up like a cyclone, thrashing you about and spitting you out whenever ITS done. And the more you resist (stress, anxiety anger, fear, grief), the more it persists.

What’s interesting is that the felt experience of these emotions happens in our bodies rather than our heads. Angry? Heart racing, clenched jaw, surge of heat. Anxiety? Stomach knots, nausea, tight chest.

But when we stop to pay attention, what we notice is that the emotion presents somewhere, not everywhere. And so this meditation is about deliberately focusing our attention to the place where this emotion isn’t.

(I’m pretty sure my left elbow has never known an emotion in its life.)

And no need to buckle up. This ride will be a sweet one. xx

Being happy and content isn’t just about cruising through life, stress free and nothing unpleasant ever happening to us. As humans with human minds living a modern life, there are countless emotions to be experienced ranging from the sheer delight of having a three-month-old gurgle and smile up at you, to the nauseating panic of having to speak in front of a large audience.

And while nothing lasts and everything changes, when we’re drowning in stress, anxiety, anger or fear, being able to find even a little calm in the centre of a cyclone can help us ride out this challenging time.

And so that’s what this meditation is for. To find calm when calm evades us.

And the first thing that we should focus on when we’re in the depths of despair or physical pain or any emotion we’re trying to resist, is the breath.

Locating that breath and staying with it as it travels inward and back out again for as many breaths as we can. And noticing whether there’s any reprieve from this challenging state of mind by focusing our attention in this way.

Do you find calm? 

If not in the breath, then perhaps in the body? Scanning our body for even the most innocuous place free from tension. The left earlobe. Right elbow. Little toe.

Can you find calm there? Bringing your attention back to this place, over again, finding refuge knowing this emotion hasn’t swallowed you whole.

And perhaps it’s neither breath or body where we’ll find calm. Perhaps it’s outside of ourselves.

To sights. A clear blue sky, dewy blades of grass. Or a photo on the wall you’ve not really looked at in years. Using the gift of vision to study the finer details of objects before us.

Is this where you find calm? Any sense of calm at all?

Or maybe it’s through sound. Sounds near and afar. Sounds faint and loud. Magpies carolling. Wind rustling through trees. Cicadas in the evening.

Does calm greet you there?

Or perhaps, it’s found in the sense of smell. Breathing in, but focusing attention on aromas around us. Baked goods from the kitchen. Jasmine in the springtime. Your child’s freshly shampooed hair.

Do you find calm?

Wherever you found even a hint of calm is a place to which you can return your attention when strong emotions get too much to bear. A tiny pause on an emotional wave that threatens to engulf. It’s within you to bring a glimpse of peace until things change, which they invariably will.

May peace be around you.

May calm be within you.

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