14 Aug A Quick Mindfulness Technique to Detach from Gripping Thoughts & Feelings
Thoughts and feelings – sometimes we can’t live with ‘em, and we definitely can’t live without ‘em. So, when a particularly gripping thought or feeling just won’t leave you alone, here’s a quick mindfulness technique to help overcome its stronghold on you and your wellbeing.
Recognise: How do you detect what’s happening in your mind and your body? Identifying specific feelings and bodily sensations often helps to contain them. Can you name it to tame it? Emotions also direct us to our needs, so recognising them when they arise is really useful. If coming up with the right feeling word seems difficult, try classifying it into one of the 4 main feeling groups – is it glad, sad, mad, or scared? What about feelings in the body – tightness, restlessness, tension, heat, numbness? What is there for you to notice?
Allow: So often we tend to resist thoughts and feelings, a process which serves to double the problem – Problem 1 is the feeling of anger and Problem 2 is the feeling of anger towards the anger and wishing it would just go away. Dropping the push back against emotions that have already surfaced means letting go of Problem 2 so you can deal with Problem 1. Can you give your feelings permission to exist, because, after all, they’re already there?
Investigate: Can you be curious about this feeling, rather than judgmental? What does it want you to know? If it had a voice, what would it say? Is it a subtle feeling, or powerful? Where does it live in your body? Is it moving or shifting or staying put? What does it need? The ‘I’ can also mean turning to thoughts and feelings with open-minded Interest – meaning, what does it actually feel like to feel angry, or lonely, or joyful?
Non-identify: What would it be like to think of yourself, in the midst of a gripping thought or emotion, as someone experiencing anger, rather than as an angry person? Or as someone exploring the worst-case scenario, instead of as a total pessimist? When we let thoughts and feelings define us, we give them a lot of power. Juicy thoughts and feelings like to stick around and nag us, but usually they’re not always there for 100% of our day – meaning they can and do come and go as transient and impermanent experiences. So, the next time a particularly gripping thought or feeling grabs hold of you, how can you see it as something happening to you, rather than something that defines you?
When in doubt, just dance in the R-A-I-N.