Last week, we talked about how in order to start fresh everyday, we need to let go of our emotional memory of past events. This week, we are giving you a technique to relieve your emotional reactions to what happened in the past or present in order to achieve balance.
Often, our emotions spiral out from its start because they have a firm grip on us. Imagine you are standing in the middle of a river when the current is strong, and the currents pull you and push you in multiple directions. It is easy to be thrown off balance. When standing in these strong currents, you may even stumble and fall. But imagine jumping out of the river, sitting at the shore, it is much easier to watch the river, whether it is peaceful or rough.
Our mind is like a river, constantly flowing, and the currents are the thoughts and emotions – the content of the mind. They always come and go in their own way, sometimes peaceful, and sometimes strong. When we are in the middle of a deep emotion, it is hard to break out in one stride. So here are two steps you can take to handle strong emotions when they occur.
The first step is when you detect a strong emotion occur, try to see where in the body that you feel this emotion. An emotion often manifests itself as a sensation in the body. For example, when you feel sadness, you may feel a heavy feeling in your chest, or when you are nervous, you may feel a churning sensation around the stomach area. A lot of times when we experience fear or stress, our body tenses up and the emotion shows as tension in the muscles. Or when we are in a hurry, we often feel a twirling or burning sensation in the throat, the neck, or the chest.
See where you notice the sensation, and if you can, spend a minute or two observing it. How does it feel? Is it changing in intensity? And while doing so, let go of your reaction to this sensation. Neutralizing your reactions to this sensation, no judging it, purely observing it, until the sensation fades away.
It is much easier to let go of a sensation in the body than to let go of an emotion, because a sensation is something we can feel with our senses, whereas an emotion is an abstract concept. By shifting our focus from an emotion to a sensation (or multiple sensations), we consciously jump out of the current and sit at the river bank to watch the current drifting away.
Sometimes the emotion can be so deep that even after you release its hold on you, it might come right back. In this case, couple it with offering yourself (or the other person you’re having the troubled feeling about) compassion and loving kindness. This will soften the heart and give you another tool to release the grip of strong emotions.