From stress and fear to inner peace and well-being
“Using our emotions and fears to experience inner peace and well-being”
The emotions make us conscious of the interaction between our emotional, physical, energetic, and mental bodies. When we find ourselves in front of a situation of stress, our mental body, our points of view and beliefs, emit a judgment that makes the emotional body react, activating the sensations of the energetic body and generating changes in the physical body. For example, when suddenly facing a stressful situation: alteration in breathing, cardiac rhythm, muscular and diaphragmatic tension, sweating, etc.
Thus, to observe the emotions and their process, without letting ourselves be dragged down by them, is a powerful form of investigating our subtle anatomy and reaching a state of consciousness that is freer from mental structures and thoughts.
The following exercise is useful for this. It is especially good for those moments in which you are in the middle of an emotional reaction, but to familiarize yourself with it will enable you to experience the present with more clarity in general:
– Become conscious of your breathing: Don’t change it, don’t judge it. Simply observe the coming and going of the breath. Take the time necessary to this. (Take as long as you need to do this.)
– Become truly aware of how you feel: Once your attention is more present, thanks to focusing on the breath, bring your attention to how you feel, to what type of emotion you are experiencing. But don’t get involved with the history that generates the emotion, only focus on the type of sensation that you feel. If you are angry, sad, disappointed, depressed—what physical sensations come with that?
– Stay with only the physical sensation, not with the story: Don’t try to change anything, nor reject, get rid of, negotiate, or judge. Simply observe what you are experiencing. We don’t want more drama nor do we look for justifications or rationalizations for our state. Simply recognize what it is that you are experiencing. Amplify it, go deep into it without fear, look at it head-on, don’t avoid or try to get away from it. Take as long as you need to do this.
– Feel kindness towards what you feel: When you have recognized the sensation with clarity, without fighting it, become friendly with it. Feel a certain kindness to it. That kindness enables you to relax more in the present, to relax the defensive barriers and to deepen in the experience of the moment. Take as long as you need to do this.
– Recognize that which is witnessing this whole process: at the center of everything that you have been experiencing, the pain, the anxiety, the breath, the story, the kindness, at the center of all this there is a stream of conscious presence over which everything else happens. Observe that. Continue breathing, inhaling and exhaling, with friendship, without rejecting nor opposing what is, with affection and tenderness, looking directly at that space where your pain sadness, anger can be.
– Experience a new openness: As you continue doing this, you might be able to start feeling a new sensation of opening, of spaciousness, of lightness, a new feeling of being comfortable with what is might start manifesting. It’s possible that your sadness, anger, or fear, hasn’t disappeared. But you are awakening a new kind of inner peace.
– Bring this state of openness to your day: Don’t resist this change. Don’t let your mind continue looking for justifications or raising up things to remind you that you ought to continue feeling sad, angry…. Continue deepening in the sensation of openness, with kindness and tenderness, without altering anything, neither removing nor adding anything, directly looking at things as they are not as you would like the to be to justify extreme emotions.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, looking at things from this perspective of openness to what is will grant a deeper experience of reality beyond the constraints of emotional suffering.
“Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life”, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron.