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The Body Scan: Developing Emotional Awareness

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

For many years, meditators have known that emotion and physical sensations are intimately linked. More recently, researchers, psychologists and neuroscientists from all over the world have actually proven and even mapped out this phenomenon. For example, in a study of 700 participants, Dr. Lauri Nummenmaa systematically mapped out the different places in the body where we experience emotions, as well as the physical sensations that correlate to each of those emotions.

Use your body to explore your emotions

Use your body to explore your emotions

To be more aware of your emotions – and thus to understand and be able to harness them better – it’s essential to develop mindfulness around your body. This will give you a more nuanced perception of the physical sensations that arise when you’re experiencing an emotion. You’ll also be able to spot emotions faster, and choose how you want to respond to those emotions consciously rather than reactively.

So, how do you develop mindfulness around your body and your emotions?

The Body Scan

The body scan is a meditation where you examine your body and its physical sensations in a systematic way, part by part. This meditation takes about 10 minutes. You can, of course, meditate for longer as well.

Getting Started

To get started, find a comfortable place to sit where you won’t be interrupted. Close your eyes. Do 1 to 2 minutes of meditation using whatever method you’re most used to. This will help calm your mind and get you ready to begin the body scan.

The Head

Put your attention on the very top of your head. Feel any sensation that might be there, no matter how minute. Slowly move your attention from the very tip of your head, down your scalp, until you’re just above your eyebrows. Do this very slowly and observe any and all physical sensations as you’re scanning. Spend about 1 minute here.

The Face

Next, bring your attention to the face. Start from the top down. What sensations do you feel around your eyes? Your nose? Your lips? Your chin? Spend about 1 minute feeling sensations on your face.

The Neck and Shoulders

Now move your attention to the back of your head. Start from the bottom of your scalp, move down your next, all the way to your shoulders. Look for any sensations, tensions, feelings of hotness or coldness, or just anything that moves into your awareness. Spend 1 minute on this area.

The Body

Scan the front of your body and the back of your body separately. Start from your shoulders and move all the way down your torso in about 1 minute. Then start again from your back and move all the way from your shoulders to your pelvis, again taking about 1 minute.

The Whole Body At Once

Finally, let your attention drape over your entire body. Notice any physical sensations or emotions that arise. Spend about 1 minute here.

If you’re extending the meditation, you can start from the bottom and go back up, or you can start over again from the top.

Break Down Emotions into Sensations

As you’re doing the body scan, try to focus on sensations, rather than emotions. For instance, instead of “I am angry,” you might notice the sensation of heat in your chest, tightness in your face and shallower breathing.

Focusing on the physical sensations of an emotion, rather than the idea of it, will allow you to spot that emotion faster in real life. The next time you notice those physical cues, you’ll notice it – faster than if you were trying to notice when you’re angry, for instance. Focusing on physical sensations also tends to give you more nuanced information, which can lead to deeper insights.

Go ahead and give the body scan meditation a try. Then, come back and let us know what you discovered!

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Set the Tone for Your Meditations with an Intention

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Beginning a meditation is a bit different than beginning any other daily habit. For instance, if you were to go for a jog, all you need to do is put on your jogging clothes and head out the door. Meditation on the other hand is a little different. Meditation is not a static process that you rinse and repeat. Instead, it’s something new to explore every day. The way you set your intention for your meditation, before you get started, can completely change your experience.

Set an intention before you meditate.

Set an intention before you meditate.

Different Experiences, Same Technique

Depending on your intention, you can have a completely different meditation experience, even if you’re using the same meditation technique. For instance, take the basic meditation of just focusing on your breath.

If your intention is to develop attention, then you’d gently block everything else out. Any time you find your mind wandering, you’d kindly bring yourself back to the breath. Over time, your brain learns to automatically bring your mind back to focus, even when you’re not meditating.

Now, let’s say your intention is to learn about how your mind works. Perhaps there’s one thing you want to focus on – for example, you’ve been feeling stressed, and want to see exactly how that manifests in your mind. So, you sit down. You use the same technique of focusing on your breath. Whenever you notice thoughts arise, you gently bring it back to your breath.

However, when you notice stressful thoughts arise, you might spend a little more time observing those thoughts. What patterns do you notice? How does the stress arise? How does a thought turn into the emotion of stress? How does that manifest in your body?

Then, whenever you’re ready, bring your attention back to the breath.

As you can see, your intention for the sit can completely change your experience – even within the same type of meditation.

Setting Your Intention

As you sit down to meditate, focus your mind on what your intention is for your sit. If you’re not sure where to put your attention, consider:

  • What are you curious about, within your mind?
  • How do you want to grow as a person?
  • What’s challenging in your life?
  • What would you like to explore?
  • What would you like to create?

Once you’ve chosen your intention, hold it briefly in your mind. Then, begin your meditation.

This process of reminding yourself why you’re meditating, then briefly focusing your mind, will help guide your meditation session. Setting an intention doesn’t need to take more than 10 seconds, but it can make a profound difference on your experience.

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Harnessing Both Open and Focused Attention

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

A big part of meditation is training your attention. Though we often talk about attention as if it’s one thing, there are actually many different types of attention. Two of the most important ones are open attention and focused attention.

Open attention is your ability to maintain your presence of mind while allowing different stimuli to pass through your awareness. Focused attention is your ability to keep your awareness on just one stimulus, while filtering everything else out. Both types of awareness are highly beneficial to cultivate.

Cultivate two different types of attention!

Cultivate two different types of attention!

Why Cultivate Open Awareness?

Cultivating open awareness means improving your ability to stay present and observe, while letting your actual experience change. For example, in one moment you might be aware of a thought, in the next moment a physical sensation, then an emotion, followed by an insight. Instead of “attaching” or being swept away by any of these experiences, you simply stay in being the observer.

When you cultivate open awareness, you open the doors to tremendous insight. Because you’re observing your experience through the lens of awareness, you’ll be able to spot patterns in your thinking or way of being that you wouldn’t normally see. In everyday life these might just play out in autopilot, but as these patterns flow through your awareness, you’ll be able to become aware of them.

Cultivating open awareness can also help you handle stress and chaos better in real life. Your mind becomes more accustomed to staying detached yet present, even when a lot is going on. With focused attention, you train your mind to be less distracted, to reduce mental chaos. With open awareness, you train your mind not to resist chaos, to instead just observe it. This can be very valuable in the real world.

Why Cultivate Focused Attention?

Focused attention involves selecting one focal point, then training your mind to come back to repeatedly come back that focal point. For example, let’s say the focal point is the breath. In a focused attention meditation, you would simply keep bringing your attention back to your breath.

This is the most commonly taught form of meditation, and for good reason. Cultivating focused attention helps you train your ability to direct your attention. You practice noticing when your mind loses focus, then gently bringing it back to center again. This is the type of meditation that strengthens the prefrontal cortex and boosts productivity.

It’s important to note that these mental benefits stay with you after the meditation session. At first it might seem like your mind snaps back to how it was before, immediately after you finish meditating. Yet, with a consistent practice, you’ll quickly find that the benefits of meditation will start staying with you longer and longer throughout the day.

How to Practice Open and Focused Attention

A good way to get a sense for these two different types of attention is to meditate while alternating between the two. Set your timer for three minutes. For the first three minutes, practice being present with whatever comes into your awareness. Observe, let the experience stay as long as it needs to, then let it pass. Don’t try to push any experience or thought away, and don’t latch on. Just observe.

Then, when the three minutes are up, change to a focused meditation. Pick one focal point (the breath is a good one,) and just focus on that one thing. If your attention wanders, gently bring it back to the focal point. Practice keeping your attention in one place.

Alternating between the two will give you a good feel for each of them. Which one is more beneficial for you? Share in the comments!

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Improve Your Communication with Mindful Listening

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

One area where we tend to have unconscious tendencies is in our communication. Even among regular meditators, it’s uncommon for us to meditate with another human being. Instead, we isolate ourselves and look inward.

Like a scientist observing a phenomenon in a lab, we learn about our minds in a pristine environment. Yet just like science, it’s essential to take the theory out of the lab and test it out in practice. Likewise, if we want to improve our communication, it’s essential for us to take mindfulness out of solo practice and bring it into conversation.

Can this meditation improve your communication?

Can meditation improve your communication?

Mindful Listening: A Meditation on Communication

The Mindful Listening practice is a meditation that’ll help you become more aware of your mind and your mental habits during conversation. As you become more aware of your mental habits in your day to day conversations, you’ll also have more power to change it. Here’s how this meditation works.

To do this exercise, you’ll need a friend, family member or co-worker. You’ll switch off with one another, each person taking turns to speak. You’ll each speak for 3 minutes, uninterrupted.

When you’re in the speaker role, all you need to do is talk for 3 minutes. The topic doesn’t matter, but do try experimenting with different topics. You don’t have to fill the entire 3 minutes. If you run out of things to say, just stop speaking and sit in silence until you feel like talking again. Your turn is over when 3 minutes is up. You’ll want to switch between speaker and listener roles at least a couple times.

In this meditation, the more active role is actually the listener’s. When you’re listening, your role is to be mindful. Put your attention on what the speaker is saying – as well as on your mind’s inner dialogue. The most you’re allowed to say when listening is “I see” or “I understand.”

Take these 3 minutes to really notice how your mind works when you’re in communication. For example:

  • Do you feel the urge to share your own, possibly impressive story?
  • Do you feel the urge to offer advice?
  • What emotions are you experiencing?
  • Are you “trying” to do anything? Are you trying to get them to like you or trying to do the exercise right?
  • Are you making any assumptions?
  • What are the unspoken qualities in the interaction?

Whatever mental tendencies you notice during this meditation, there’s a good chance they’re mental tendencies you experience on a regular basis. In everyday life, when everything’s moving at a fast pace, it’s difficult to be mindful and spot these tendencies. By spotting them in an interpersonal meditation like this, you open up the possibility of noticing them in real-time in the real world. Then you can start to change these habits, if you choose to do so.

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How Often, and When, Should You Meditate?

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Some people spend 12 hours a day meditating. Others meditate no more than a minute a day. Which is the “right” answer? When are the best times to meditate? Which option is the best for you and your lifestyle?

As with most things in life, there isn’t one “right” answer to these questions. In fact, your personal practice will likely change over time. Instead, here are some guidelines and tips to live by as you’re creating your meditation practice.

When and how often should you meditate?

When and how often should you meditate?

Wade In, Don’t Jump In

Sustaining a meditation practice is about consistency. It’s about picking a pace that works for you over the long run, rather than creating a fast burst of intense meditation. That’s why the “wade, don’t jump” mentality is important.

If you’re just starting to meditate, don’t try to jump in with an hour a day. Don’t even try 30 minutes a day. Instead, try just 5 or 10 minutes a day. If that seems daunting, go for 2 minutes.

The goal is to start with a practice that seems just slightly too easy. Maintain that schedule for a month, then slowly add to it. Starting slow helps ensure that your new meditation practice really sticks.

Pair Your Practice With Other Daily Rituals

Make your meditation a part of a daily ritual. Throughout your day, you probably already have a number of different rituals. A ritual is anything you do every day, at the same time of day. These include making your morning coffee, brushing your teeth, working out, getting home from work, showering, having a glass of wine at night, etc.

Try to pair or include your meditation practice into a part of your existing daily rituals. For example, you can add a 10 minute meditation in front of your daily exercise. Since you’ve already got one habit down, it can be a “trigger” or a “lead” for another new habit. Pairing your meditation practice to an existing habit or ritual helps cement its place in your day as a regular activity.

Spontaneous Meditation

A daily meditation practice is one of the most powerful habits you could develop for creating mental, emotional and even professional transformation. But your meditation doesn’t have to be limited to just your daily meditation.

Spontaneous meditations throughout your day can also be immensely beneficial. For example, let’s say you’re about to have a potentially stressful meeting with your boss. Taking a couple minutes to meditate beforehand can be a great way to clear your mind and get yourself to a place of emotional stability beforehand. Or meditating as you drive home from work can be a great way to unwind.

Have a daily practice. But, don’t be afraid to throw in a few minutes of meditation throughout your day, whenever it calls for it.

When Should You Meditate?

Remember: the only “goal” when structuring your meditation practice is just to make it sustainable. Start easy. Wade, don’t jump. Pair it with other habits to make it easy to remember. Create something you can stick with – then slowly add to it over time. And remember that you can always meditate more, spontaneously, whenever you want.

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Distracted During Meditation? Here’s What to Do …

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Distractions are very common during meditation. In fact, how you handle distractions is one of the most important parts of meditation. Believe it or not, distractions can actually be a big help to your meditation practice! Remember: the goal of meditation is not to have a blank mind at all times. The whole experience – including the experience of distraction – can be beneficial.

So, how do you handle distractions during meditation?

Don’t Create New Resistance

The mindset of “non-craving, non-resistance” is an important philosophy in meditation. Basically, it means experiencing the world exactly the way it is, without hoping it was somehow different. Instead, you’re simply living it as it is.

One subtle way meditators can create resistance is resisting distraction itself. They beat themselves up for being distracted, feel like they’re not doing a good job or wish they were having a somehow different experience (more peaceful, more concentrated, more enlightened, etc.)

This is a great opportunity to practice non-resistance. Simply be with your distractedness, with self-compassion, and bring your attention back to the present whenever you find yourself distracted.

The Moment of Noticing

The moment you move from being distracted to noticing you were distracted is an important moment. You’re essentially moving from an unconscious behavior – e.g. daydreaming or having random thoughts without choosing to think about them – into a conscious behavior . You move from an un-awake behavior, to being able to consciously choose your next thought or action.

The way you handle this moment is important. In fact, it can be a reflection of – and practice for – the rest of your life. For example, do you start to compare yourself to other meditators, who seem to experience distraction less often? If so, can you see this pattern – for example, of comparing yourself to others – in other parts of your life?

Once you notice your tendencies in how you treat yourself and how you manage your mind in these moments, you can consciously practice different behaviors. In our example, instead of comparing yourself to imaginary “perfect” meditators, you might choose to compassionately bring your attention back to the present.

Every person’s unconscious mental behaviors are different. Your distractions, and patterns in bringing yourself back to the meditation, can be a valuable window into your mind’s behaviors.

Two Ways of Approaching Distraction

Basically, we’ve talked about two ways to approach distraction:

1)      Simply bring your attention back to whatever you’re meditating on. The present, your breath, physical sensations, etc. Do it compassionately. Then, continue with your meditation.

2)      Treat it as an educational experience. Examine how you treat yourself, as well as how your mind works, in moments of distraction and in moments of noticing. Then see if these realizations offer insights into the rest of your life.

The approach you choose depends on the type of meditation you’re doing, or where you want to take your mind in any given meditation. Whichever approach you choose, remember that the goal isn’t to have a perfectly blank mind. Distractions are a key part of the whole meditation experience.

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The Quiet Work of Awareness

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

This article was originally published on Eckhart Tolle’s website. It was written by Rich Fernandez, PhD, VP of Learning and Development at Search Inside Yourself. Rich Fernandez was also the co-founder of Wisdom Labs and former director of executive education at Google.

Often it is said that the practice of mindfulness and meditation can lead to great clarity and insight. In cultivating stillness and presence there arises from within a deep knowing or understanding of what is true and good. Insight derived in this way – from a deep state of presence – can be of the highest benefit to ourselves and others. I had a moving personal experience of this type of insight about a year ago while attending a weekend-long mindfulness retreat.

After spending the first day of the retreat mostly in silence, we began the second day with some walking meditation. Outdoors in the sunshine, surrounded by beautiful northern California redwood forests, I practiced walking and breathing mindfully. Unbidden, what arose for me was an experience of spontaneous and deep joy coupled at the same time with a powerful flash of insight. The insight took expression as the words of a fully formed poem that appeared in my mind as follows:

The Feast of Joy

Life is a feast of joy.
Even in sorrow there is the seed of joy. You will see.
Find the joy in all you do.
And let what you do also bring you joy.
Sometimes you will have to work for it.
But not too much.

The insight for me in these words was a deep resonance about finding joy in every aspect of life. Importantly, finding joy did not involve working too hard at it. I began to see that deep and abiding joy was not something to be pursued but rather experienced from within. A simple letting go and letting be as a source of joy.

This was a powerful insight for me because I had been working too hard at finding joy, especially in my chosen vocation. It was now clear to me that I would have to leave my career path to follow a deeper, more joyful calling that would involve starting my own business. Choosing this path was complicated because I had recently taken on what I considered a “dream job” at a great company – Google. I was tasked with helping to lead efforts at enhancing employee wellbeing at the company. I had spent the better part of the previous two decades training as a psychologist and working in the field of organizational learning and development. In many ways, the new job was the pinnacle of what I had hoped to achieve. And yet this insight about connecting with and moving from a source of deep joy made me realize that it was time for a change.

What was really interesting about all of this was that none of it was entirely clear to me until I took time away from it all to reflect. I literally had to slow down, stop and take a period of dedicated time to be present with myself in order to gain clarity. Over that short period of time while I was on retreat, something fundamental shifted in me as I exercised the capacity to be in alert presence with my own lived experience. I experienced a calmness and clarity of mind that allowed me to sense within myself what was most important in terms of the work I wanted to do in the world. It is not necessary to have make large-scale changes as I did in order to harness change in your work or in other parts of your life. Here are a few recommendations for how to cultivate this process on a daily basis:

  • Invite the emergent mind: Whenever you have a few moments of quiet, unstructured time (for example, when you first wake in the morning), notice where your mind goes. How and when do you transition from restful and easeful states of mind into more active, thinking states? Allow yourself to rest your mind in a way that is alert yet relaxed and simply notice what arises. Presence often happens when exercising this type of choiceless awareness.
  • Set aside time each day for deliberate, quiet contemplation: Spend a little bit of time every day (between 1-20 minutes) doing absolutely nothing else other than being still and observing what arises. The capacity to be in stillness and presence is the foundation that allows awareness to arise.
  • Create intentional moments of pause in your day: This will allow you to enter into an “observer” mode for a few moments. Use this as a check-in to notice what thoughts are occurring to you. Beware of filling every moment with information-rich activities or devices, and actively cultivate the time and space for meaningful pauses. A few practical ways to do this include taking a walk, getting up from where you are sitting, stretching and/or taking a few deep breaths.
  • Retreat once in a while: There is value in the long-form practice of cultivating presence in a retreat-type setting. During a retreat, there is the time and space to intentionally set aside engagement with the outside world and free oneself of any distractions in order to cultivate stillness, awareness and presence. These are the optimal conditions in which great insight and awareness can arise. Consider taking some time at once a year for a retreat-type experience, and create time shorter versions of retreat throughout the year.
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The New Year: A Perfect Time to Envision Your Future

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Happy New Year! The New Year is the perfect time to look to the future. It’s the perfect time to reflect on your life and on what you want to create. This new year, we invite you to spend a few minutes envisioning your future.

What Does Envisioning Entail?

When you’re able to clearly see your future, you’re more likely to make it happen. Visualizing your future clearly also helps you decide if that’s really the future you want for yourself. Think of envisioning as both a life planning tool and a “bring it to reality” tool.

 

Writing and Imagining Your Future

In the Search Inside Yourself book, Chade-Meng Tan describes a potent writing exercise for discovering and reinforcing your future vision. Here’s how it works.

Set aside 7 minutes in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Take out a piece of paper and answer this prompt:

“If everything in my life, starting from today, meets or exceeds my
most optimistic expectations, what will my life be in five years?”

Visualize this image in as much detail as you can muster. What are you doing? Who are you with? What’s inspiring about this image? Put yourself in the shoes of the future you. How do you feel?

This image can be a guidepost for you to move towards. As you make big life decisions, ask yourself: is this bringing you closer or further away from the you that you want to be?

Share Your Future With Others

Talking about your ideal future with others helps bring it into reality. How?

  • You’ll inspire others. You’ll recruit “cheerleaders” for your success. Having these allies can go a long way towards making your dream real.
  • You’ll reinforce your dream for yourself. The more you talk about it, the clearer it’ll become in your mind. The clearer it is in your mind, the faster you’ll move towards that vision.
  • You commit yourself. It’s hard to talk about a dream and not take action towards it. Once you put it into words, it becomes real – and you’ll begin the process of committing and following through.

So, this New Years, take ten minutes for yourself. Do a little life planning. See and create your future. Then, start to talk about it. This could make a big difference on the rest of this year, as well as on the rest of your life.

Posted in Habits and Practices | Tagged , , , ,

Five 3 Minute Meditations

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Sometimes a quick meditation is all it takes. Maybe you’re in the middle of a work day and want to come back to center, quickly. Or perhaps you’re running out the door and just want to start the day sharp. For those times, here are five powerful meditations that take just 3 minutes.

A few simple 3 minute meditations

A few simple 3 minute meditations

1) The Basic Breathing Meditation

This is the cornerstone of many types of meditation. It’s simple: focus your attention on your breath. Don’t try to change your breath or to control your breath. Instead, just let your awareness rest on your breath.

Any time you find yourself distracted, simply bring your attention back to the breath. This is a very pure and easy method for training attention and awareness.

2) The “Smell a Flower” Meditation

Find a flower. Any flower will do. Move close to the flower, so it’s just inches away from your face. Now, smell the flower. Really take it in. Put all your attention on the here and now, on just letting the flower permeate you. Do this for 3 minutes.

This meditation lets you take in the nourishing feeling of being in nature, without having to drive out of town. It’s also a fantastic way of focusing your attention.

3) The Full Body Scan

Starting from the very top of your head, move your attention down your body. Pay close attention to the subtle as well as not-so-subtle sensations in your body. When you reach the bottom of your body, start from the top again and move down.

This is meditation helps you notice new emotions and helps you gain insights about your emotional body. Almost every emotion you experience will have a corresponding physical sensation. By paying attention to physical sensations, you can learn a lot more about where your emotional body is at.

4) The Gratitude Meditation

Happiness researchers have found that one of the main keys to happiness is gratitude. This short meditation can give you a nice boost of gratitude – and happiness – at any time of day.

Think of something you’re grateful for. Let your mind rest on it and fully enjoy it. Experience all the gratitude you can for that one thing, then move on to the next thing. Keep doing this for three minutes, moving from one thing to the next. You’ll likely find that you feel completely refreshed afterwards!

5) Just Stop and Be Here

This meditation is based on the subtle yet profound idea that even trying to meditate can sometimes take you out of being present. Why? Because in trying to be present, your attention isn’t actually on the present moment. Instead, your mind is on the trying, instead of the being. So, what’s the answer?

To just stop. To do nothing. To just sit for three minutes and observe. Don’t try to meditate, don’t try to control your mind – just do nothing. Enjoy just being, without trying to control anything in any way.

These are five different 3-minute meditations you can use any time you want to feel more refreshed, more centered or more grateful. If one of these appealed to you, why not give it a try right now?

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What Does it Mean to “Regulate Emotions?”

Posted on by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

It’s a term frequently used by meditators, as well as here at Search Inside Yourself. It’s one of the big reasons people are drawn to meditation. It’s one of the big rewards of meditation. Meditation helps you regulate your emotions.

But, what does that actually mean?

Emotional regulation: a key benefit to meditation

Emotional regulation: a key benefit to meditation

It’s Not About Suppressing Emotions

Regulating emotions is not about suppressing negative emotions. Feeling negative emotions is often necessary and healthy in life. For example, if you’re feeling unsatisfied with your work, that may actually be a useful sign telling you that it’s time to look at moving on in your career. Suppressing those feeling of dissatisfaction is unhealthy in the long run.

Feelings carry valuable information that can help you make essential life decisions. Learning to regulate emotions isn’t about avoiding, suppressing emotions or “not feeling” emotions. Instead, it’s about learning to navigate them skillfully.

Navigating Emotions Skillfully

Learning to skillfully navigate emotions means you’re able to fully dive into emotions – even intense emotions – and still act from integrity. You act from your highest values, rather than reacting impulsively to the emotion.

For example, imagine a loving father and his son. His son has just accidentally set fire to the corner of a carpet. Naturally, the father is a little angry – but more importantly, his son could have gotten hurt. Now, the father has (at least) two ways he can react:

  1. He could express his anger and scold his son. His attention is more on expressing his anger than at his son’s wellbeing. This would be the unskilled way of managing his anger, as he’s lost sight of his higher values (of loving and protecting his son.)
  2. He could explain why what his son did was dangerous. His anger will be tempered by his love and care for his son. He’ll make sure his message is heard, but he’ll also make sure his son feels loved in the process. This is a more skillful way of managing his emotions, as he stays true to his higher values.

Meditation can help you navigate your emotions skillfully in difficult situations. In other words, you’ll be able to act from your highest values, even when dealing with charged emotions.

Letting Negative Emotions Go

Meditation can also help you let go of negative emotions faster. Both Cheng-Meng Tan and the Dalai Llama agree that it’s probably impossible to prevent specific thoughts and emotions from appearing. Instead, meditation helps you release and move on from those thoughts and feelings faster. In fact, experienced meditators can let go of emotions and thoughts almost the instant they surface.

This is, again, different than suppressing an emotion. Suppressing an emotion involves an active aversion to that emotion. You’re essentially saying “no” to that experience. Letting go, on the other hand, means having a mind that’s free from both aversion and craving. You have a peaceful mind that just witnesses the arising and passing of emotions. You allow emotions to flow in, then out, smoothly and without resistance.

To wrap up, learning to regulate emotions can impact your life in a few important ways. First of all, you learn to navigate emotions skillfully, from your highest values. You learn to let go of negative emotions faster. It’s both healthier in the long run, as well as more effective in the short term. How might this be useful in your life? Answer in the comments!

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