Now that you may be beginning your third week of practice, what are you noticing as you practice with the anchors and thoughts? Some things may be arising, possibly in the form of emotions. So let’s move onto step 3 in working with your practice of mindful awareness. If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, you may want to go back and start there.
Step 3: Emotions
Inevitably, noticing thoughts is going to lead you to emotions, as they are deeply rooted. Emotions also conjure body sensations that give you clues to your emotions- a racing heart, butterflies in your stomach, tears from your eyes, etc. Noticing your emotions is the first step to being able to regulate what arises in daily life. There is space between an experience and your reaction to it, in that space is the power to be able to make a choice.
Finding that space becomes easier when we are aware of emotions as they arise. Experiencing emotions is part of the human condition- they come and they go, like waves. Some are pleasant, others unpleasant- rather than good or bad. What do we do when we experience an unpleasant emotion? Noticing what our tendencies are in relation to emotions is part of the awareness.
For sitting practice, begin by choosing an anchor and staying with that anchor for some time, then shift your attention to an emotion that may be present. How does it feel in your body? Are you wanting to push it away? What happens if you just allow it to be? Lean into the emotion and be curious about it. Be careful not to get lost in the story of the “why” the emotion is present, just witness.
A strategy for working with emotions is the acronym NAME.
Notice: notice what is present in this moment. What emotion are you feeling?
Allow or acknowledge: allow the emotion to be present without pushing it away if it is unpleasant.
Meet mindfully: mindfully investigate the emotion with kindness, curiosity and care.
Empower: gain clarity from truly seeing our emotions more clearly- giving us a choice in our response.
Sometimes the simple act of naming the emotion takes the power away from it. Detaching from the story and just noticing its presence has power, even if it is unpleasant. Emotions are like waves, they come and they go–sometimes crashing, sometimes calm.
Once you have worked through these three steps, there is a myriad of other practices to work with and deepen the experience of bringing mindful awareness into your life.
Check back on our blog for ways to extend your practice. Also, you may be interested in more guidance and practice with others, which provides another component of human connection. Visit our Programs and Events page for upcoming courses, both online and in person.