MINDFULNESS OF EMOTIONS
We often start to learn
mindfulness skills by focusing our attention on our breath, our bodies, the
environment or activities. We can practise being mindful, and eventually, we can
learn to start being mindful of our emotions.
Being mindful of emotions
helps us to stand back from the emotion, understand it, accept it, not to fear
it or struggle against it, and it can have the added benefit of reducing the
distress (although the aim is to learn to accept the experience, rather than
lessen the distress).
Set aside a few minutes when you can be quiet and undisturbed.
Start by bringing your attention to your breath. Notice your breathing as you
slowly breathe in and out, perhaps imagining you have a balloon in your belly,
noticing the sensations in your belly as the balloon inflates on the in-breath,
and deflates on the out-breath.
Notice the feelings, and
what it feels like.
- What is it?
- What word best
describes what you are feeling?
- Angry, sad, anxious,
irritated, scared, frustrated etc
Accept the emotion. It is a normal body reaction. It can be helpful to
understand how it came about. What it was, the set of circumstances that
contributed to you feeling this way. Do not condone or judge the emotion. Simply
let it move through you without resisting it, struggling against it, or
Investigate the emotion
- How intensely do you
- How are you breathing?
- What are you feeling in
your body? Where do you feel it?
- What is your posture
like when you feel this emotion?
- Where do you notice
- What is your facial
expression? What does your face feel like?
- Is anything changing?
(nature, position, intensity)
What thoughts or
judgements do you notice? Just notice those thoughts. Allow them to come into
your mind, and allow them to pass. Any time you find that your mind is engaging
with the thoughts, by judging them or yourself for having them, believing
them, struggling against them: just notice, and bring your attention back
to your breathing, and to the physical sensations of the emotion.
If any other emotions come up, if anything changes, simply notice and repeat the
steps above. Just notice that the feelings change over time.
As you become more practised, you can use this mindfulness technique when you
feel more intense emotion.
NOW: Mindfulness Exercise - video
APPLE: A Mindful Response to Thoughts and Feelings - video
NOW - Mindfulness for Busy People
A mindful response to thoughts and feelings
Mindfulness of Emotions - this page as PDF
SELF HELP BOOKS using Mindfulness
Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression
The Mindful Way through Anxiety: Break Free from Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free From Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness meditation for everyday life
Full Catastrophe Living, Revised Edition: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life