In our daily lives, we all experience a variety of emotions. A person's emotional life can be filled with many shades, from uplifting feelings like joy and satisfaction to more challenging feelings like anger and sadness. Bearing witness to our emotions is the practice of being curious, caring, and non-judgmental about them. Practising mindfulness is not always easy, but it is a skill that can be honed. We will explore the following topics in this guide on being mindful of your emotions:
The Difference Between Mindfulness of Emotions and Mindfulness as a Practice
Observing one's emotional experience with care and curiosity, without judgment, constitutes mindfulness practice. Many of us know that this can be challenging, especially when we are feeling strong emotions such as anger, jealousy, or grief. Practice and time can allow you to develop this skill.
Mindfully paying attention to our emotions allows us to do so without judging them as good or bad. When anger is present, we pay attention to the emotion without assessing its validity. Instead of focusing on the details, we pay attention to the overall truth and any immediate sensations (like tightness in the shoulders or warmth in the face). It is also possible to bring into awareness voices telling us, "I shouldn't feel this way" or "I have every right to feel this way." We should not judge our judgments. Moreover, mindfulness of emotions is not a technique for escaping our emotions or bypassing them. We might change or transmute our emotions through practice, but the intention is not to change by force or will. The intention is also not to hold onto our emotions. By practising this practice, we simply allow our present moment experience to be as it is.
Browse our complete guide on mindfulness of emotions.
Emotional Mindfulness: How to Practice?
Being mindful of our emotions is simple, but that doesn't mean it is easy. While knowledge is simple, we often have trouble tuning in with curiosity and compassion when trying to quiet our minds. The following steps will allow you to practice being mindful of your emotions. This practice can help you cope with difficult emotions. The practise of mindfulness of emotions is not a substitute for therapy and can sometimes exacerbate emotions. Before you begin this practice, please consult a healthcare professional if you have a history of significant trauma, any underlying mental health conditions, or if this may be very challenging for you.
To practice, find a safe space.
When we feel safe and supported, mindfulness of emotions is best practised. Take a few deep breaths as you find a comfortable position, and sit in a safe, grounding place. You can also choose to practice with a trained professional.
Notice what the mind is saying.
You may become aware of thoughts and stories that your thinking mind is telling you as you become aware of what is here. Is your mind replaying the events that led to this emotion? Do you have a strategy for how you will 'get over this? Bring your attention back to the moment and any thoughts that are present. You can ground yourself by focusing on your breath or another anchor if you feel overwhelmed at any time. And remember – you are in control of your meditation.
Self-compassion is essential
Self-compassion should also be a part of your mindfulness practice. If you're experiencing certain emotions, you might find that you are harsh on yourself. Love yourself unconditionally, care for yourself, and allow yourself to be supported from within. You may find it difficult to cultivate self-compassion if you think about what you would say or how you would treat someone who was experiencing the same emotions. Care for yourself as you would care for someone else.
Don't force the moment. Allow it to shift.
Last but not least, let your heart be open to the knowledge that everything changes. There is no need to force change; it will naturally happen. If you find that you are holding onto an emotion, take a breath and see if you can soften that holding with your next exhalation. Cultivate patience and, as always, lots of care.
Motivating Yourself is the Key!
“Whenever I notice something about myself I don’t like, or whenever something goes wrong in my life, I silently repeat the following phrases: This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself at this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.”