The human mind, inherently impatient, triggers emotional reactions when our ideas about how things should be collide with how things are. We sometimes torment ourselves about choices we’ve made, words we’ve spoken, and the path not taken. Or we dwell on the future, postponing our happiness with thoughts about what is missing or wrong in the present moment.
These thoughts and judgments are the source of our emotional pain.
The mind has a lifetime of conditioned beliefs and expectations through which it filters all perceptions. While the body spontaneously lets go of pain the moment the underlying cause is healed, the mind has a mysterious instinct for holding on. Through the mind, we create a prison of suffering and then forget that we are the architect and that we ourselves hold the key that will set us free.
Even after years of emotional healing work, we all sometimes make the mistake of believing that something “out there” makes us angry, depressed, anxious, or afraid. In reality, outside events are only triggers. The cause of every emotion is within. By uncovering the false perceptions that cause us to cling to pain, we can open to a deep experience of peace.
Practices for Emotional Release
When you find yourself flooded with a negative emotion, the following practices can help you find your way back to your core of balance, peace, and wellbeing.
• Resist the impulse to ignore your feelings, push them away, or judge them as bad. Instead ask them what they are trying to tell you. All emotions – including the most difficult ones – exist for a reason: to help you. will help you tune in to the message your body wants you to hear.
• Be objective. If you identify personally with negativity and think, I am angry, depressed, miserable, stressed out, etc., it will be extremely difficult to detach and let go. Learn to see all emotions as only energy, like electricity that flows through you but isn’t about you.
• Practice self-compassion. If you feel overwhelmed, tell yourself, “Whatever fear says, nothing can destroy me. I’m having a strong reaction right now, but it isn’t the real me. This too shall pass.
• Take responsibility. If you find yourself reacting to certain situations in the same way, ask yourself what you need to learn to change your automatic response.
• Meditate. Meditation is one of the best ways to loosen the grip of sticky emotions and connect to our true self. In meditation we disrupt the unconscious progression of thoughts and emotions by focusing on a new object of attention. For example, in the practice of Primordial Sound Meditation, the object of attention is a mantra that we repeat silently to ourselves. A mantra is pure sound, with no meaning or emotional charge to trigger associations. It allows the mind to detach from its usual preoccupations and experience the spaciousness and calm within. In the silence of awareness, the mind lets go of old patterns of thinking and feeling and learns to heal itself.
In tomorrow's blog post, we will look at physical practices for releasing emotional pain.