Our reasons for committing to a regular mindfulness meditation practice, or for trying mindfulness meditation in the first place, inevitably vary. Many people try mindfulness meditation to help deal with stress, anxiety, or depression, while others try it on the recommendation of a friend or through reading a book or article that sparked curiosity. Mindfulness, often described as paying attention to the present moment compassionately and without judgment, is a great tool for self-awareness and acceptance, which is particularly helpful when we are facing difficult emotions such as sadness, anger, loss, or shame. Rather than instinctively running away from our difficult emotions, mindfulness meditation helps to compassionately be with these emotions and to ultimately change our usual patterns of often-destructive behavior.
Mindfulness meditation teaches us that we are not our emotions, nor are we going to feel this embarrassed or angry or sad forever. Emotions, just like the breath, come and go. When we learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings, we let ourselves feel whatever it is we feel, and we begin to see things more clearly. We are able to see the emotion as it arises, rather than after we’ve spun out of control. We become aware of how we feel and are empowered to choose a better way forward. Our mindfulness meditation practice enables us to break the habitual patterns and reactions by taking a moment to center our minds, assess our current situation, and then decide which direction to take.
Here is one way to meditate on difficult emotions during a meditation sitting. Sit or lie down with your eyes either open or closed, and begin placing your attention on the sensations of the breath, perhaps taking a few calming breaths. Once you feel ready, bring to mind a difficult emotion you’ve felt recently. After a few moments, allow your awareness to descend into the body, and begin to notice any bodily sensations you experience as you think about the difficult emotion. Are you aware of any tightness or tension in the body? Do feel sensations in a particular region of the body? Do your bodily sensations shift, change or subside at all? You may wish to take a moment now to gently relax your body and return to feeling your breath. . Take a moment now to feel some self-compassion for taking the time to practice with difficult emotions. Gently and compassionately return to the breath for a few moments to conclude the meditation.
Meditation instructor Alice Lash offers mindfulness meditation in Miami. Curious about Mindfulness Meditation? Check out the Mindfultime class schedule by clicking here.