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A Five-Step Mindfulness Practice to Help When Experiencing Negative Emotions

Confined within the walls of our homes for prolonged periods of time. Not being able to see anyone. Not being able to hug. Worried about family members, colleagues and friends. There’s plenty of reasons to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions right now. Our bodies, minds and souls are being put to an enormous test. It’s not uncommon to find oneself having to deal with a stream of negative emotions, whether it be anxiety, grief or anger. So here’s a very simple practice that can help out… nearly instantly.

The practice is taken from the Buddhist tradition, which sees suffering as an inherent part of life. However, from a Buddhist perspective, the response we have to our sufferings is the most valuable asset. Difficult times can give us the opportunity to cultivate states of mind important for our wellbeing, such as patience, self-restraint and tolerance. This isn’t to say that medical advice or psychological support should not be sought if needed. However, Buddhists are very aware of the connection between a healthy mind and a healthy body; and the medical world has recently caught up on this notion too.

If you practice this 5-step meditation whenever you feel yourself being swept up by a negative tide, you’ll have the chance to ease the grasp of any negative emotions on your mind.

Preparation

Sit or lay in a comfortable position. You could sit on a chair with you feet firmly on the ground, or crossed-legged on the floor. Put a pillow underneath your buttocks if necessary. You could also lie on the bed, on the carpet, or on a mat… make yourself comfortable.

Bring your hands onto your heart, breath deeply. Inhale through your nostrils and fill your belly up – if you want to learn how to “belly breathe”, this 3-minute video explains it perfectly.

Meditation

  1. Breath in- whatever emotion arises, name it. Say out loud: “I feel this anger/pain/sadness/anxiety” – Breath out.
  2. Breath in- allow yourself to feel the emotion in your body: “I experience this anger/pain/sadness/anxiety.” This is the important stage, which you should repeat if necessary. Don’t hold anything is. Shout, scream, cry… feel any bodily sensation that arises
  3. Breath in- “I feel calm in this anger/pain/sadness/anxiety”- Breath Out. The physical manifestations of the feelings will eventually subside. And you’ll find yourself in a state of calmness, aware of the emotion, but not taken by it anymore.
  4. Breath in – “I feel at ease in this anger/pain/sadness/anxiety” – Breath Out. A you progress in meditation, you’ll find yourself able to sit with the negative emotion and not respond to it physically anymore.
  5. Breath in- “I understand why I feel this anger/pain/sadness/anxiety”- Breath out. This is the last stage, and as such, the most difficult to get to. Don’t rush the process. You’ll get there eventually.

Important Notes

If you’re a beginner to meditation, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. This is an exercise that aims to develop your self-awareness in the present moment, without judging or competing with yourself. As a beginner, focus on stages 1 and 2 to start with, then 3. Allow your body to feel the emotion, however unpleasant. Allow the feelings to unfold in their own way, and keep breathing.

Eventually, your feel a sense of calmness pervade you. If you practice this meditation every day, or whenever you feel the negative emotions, you’ll find yourself letting go of them a lot quicker than normal. Letting go comes with the understanding of why that state of feeling has arisen. And understanding is essential to a balanced state of mind.

Although it would be great to be able to avoid them, negative emotions are an inevitable part of life. Hence, we cannot control them. What we can control, if we practice, is the way we process them. Which is much easier, when we put our hands on our hearts…

Check out our tips on how to incorporate mindfulness in your home working routine.

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