Often, when an emotion or thought arises that we associate as negative, we push it away. We run from it. While tempting, that isn’t necessarily the best thing. Just like facing your fears, sometimes you need to sit with the seemingly “unpleasant” emotions that arise so that they can pass.
The more you neglect or push away these thoughts, the more they build. The build and they build and they turn into this giant scary ball of “stuff” that you don’t know what to do with.
But if you take the emotions as they come, good or bad, and you just sit with them, you create the opportunity for them to pass.
This morning, I woke up feeling great. I went to bed early, saw snowy sunrise, and did some reading and writing. But then, I started to feel anxious, and I was not really sure why. It was not a lot of anxiety, but it was there. Typically, my reaction is to ignore it and keep going. And then it will silently build and build over a number of weeks or months, and I’ll have a momentary meltdown. But this time, I didn’t. This time I sat with it.
I turned on my meditation timer, closed my eyes, and I sat. I sat with the anxiety. I felt it, I listened to it, and I realized that it was not that scary. Slowly, I began to calm down. And it slowly began to pass.
A great teacher once told me, “You should invite all guests to walk through your doors. But you do not have to serve them all tea”. Allow whatever emotion arises, to rise. Welcome whatever it is through your doors so that it knows it is heard. But, you do not have to humor it beyond that. You do not have to dwell on it. You do not have to serve it tea.
And just because you open the door once, it does not mean that those emotions will not come back. But you are now able to sit with them. To feel them. And to deal with them. Open the door to let it in, and leave the door open so that it may leave, yet again.
What should you do when the not-so-happy emotions arise?
- If you are feeling discomfort in any way, simply become aware of that. Rather than jumping to how you will label that feeling or thought, notice how it feels. What does it feel like? Where do you feel it in your body? Don’t worry about putting a name to it, simply notice.
- Now be with it. If you notice that feeling arises in your arms, focus on what your arms feel like. Breathe into it. Notice how a few breaths might change that feeling. Be patient and focus on your breath as you sit with this experience.
- Let it pass
- Create the space to feel that emotion, but allow it to pass. If it does not serve you, do not serve it tea. You welcomed it, you listened to it, and you left the door open. Though the emotion may rise again, do not let it consume you, allow yourself to feel it, and allow it pass.