Why is mindfulness such hard work at times? Often, it’s because we are facing what we usually get to ignore - our feelings. For September, our mindfulness goal is to lean into those feelings.
The goal of meditation and mindfulness isn’t to become a blank, Zen-like slate. You might get there at times, but only once you are able to sit, nonjudgmentally, with discomfort.
Signs You Are Avoiding Your Feelings
If you can’t confront the way you feel, you won’t process it and move forward. Similarly, if you aren’t observing good feelings, you won’t fully appreciate them. Here are a few ways to tell that you are ignoring the way you feel, or are having trouble accepting your emotions:
You’re hard on yourself for having feelings in the first place. If someone is happy, it may come with guilt or frustration because others are not happy. If someone has a bad feeling, they make it bigger than it is and identify with it, rather than recognizing it is just a feeling.
You are always preoccupied. If you can’t help but start scrolling through your phone as soon as there’s nothing else to do, ask yourself what you are avoiding. We do the same with food, alcohol, television, anything. All of these things can be enjoyed, but if we look for them as soon as a quiet moment or unpleasant thought appears, we are avoiding our feelings.
You’re indecisive. This is really simple. You can’t form opinions and make decisions if you don’t know how you feel. If speaking your mind or choosing a path is perplexing, it’s time to sit with your feelings.
Feeling with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an effective way to get in touch with our feelings. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you complete your mindfulness practices in September.
Begin with an attitude of acceptance. Set an intention to welcome your emotions. Remove or simply be mindful of distractions.
Recognize the emotion. If you feel something, name it. Shame, anxiety, love, grief - acknowledge it. Your feelings are happening right now, in the present, and that’s what mindfulness is all about. “I am feeling worried right now. I am a little bit sweaty and on edge because I am worried.”
Call it what it is - temporary. We all want discomfort to go away. The thing is, you’re not going to get rid of it by avoiding it; you’ll just be putting it off until later. Nothing you feel is permanent. As you stay mindful, you’ll see how emotions have an ebb and flow.
Be a little curious. As your feeling grows or subsides, carefully consider the source. Are you feeling worried because your work commitments have been demanding lately? Understandable. Have you been exhausted because you don’t have time to eat well and haven’t been sleeping properly? There are solutions. This step lets us see where we can apply balance and self-compassion to make things better.
Let it run its course. If you’re allowing emotion in, see where it takes you. Maybe it inspires you to make meaningful changes to your life. Maybe it lets you have a good, cleansing cry. Perhaps it shows you what you have to be grateful for.
Did you check out our August mindfulness goal? Cultivating contentment is also useful in handling emotions. Let us know if you have any tips or experiences to share in the comments, and have a great September.