Mindfulness of Emotions

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart

I often think of meditation as a way to empty my mind and to simply let go.  But there are times it can be helpful to use emotions as the focus of a meditation. I find this is especially true when I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, agitated or upset. When I am in an emotional state, it can be  hard to get clarity. To me, it sometimes feels like a big blob of emotion has me trapped. But when I take the time to slow down, close my eyes and focus on my breath, I gain the space I need to look inside myself. What exactly am I feeling at this moment in time? I recently had an emotionally upsetting experience and was feeling distraught. In the morning, the experience hung on me like a grey cloud. So I took a few minutes to do an emotion meditation. What was I feeling? In my head, I spoke to myself, naming the emotions I was experiencing. Sad, I feel sad. Hurt, I feel hurt, too. Angry. Angry, yes, a bit of that. And then the most surprising thing occurred. Relieved. I realized that a part of me felt relieved that this experience had occurred. Instead of being trapped by sadness, a part of me had embraced the truth and was already transitioning and moving forward. Recognizing that was empowering. Daniel Siegel, author of Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, calls this emotional naming process, “Name it to tame it.”  We turn our focus inward to “recognize and acknowledge a feeling, without being consumed by it,” says Siegel on his website. Emotions are transient. They are not constant. They do not define who you are. Just because you are feeling sad at this moment, it doesn’t mean you are a sad person. In fact, taking the time to meditate with focused awareness can not only change what you are feeling right now, but it can literally change the physical structure of your brain for the better.