It is so easy to bottle up our emotions. To fight the thoughts that enter our minds. To be distracted by physical sensations in our bodies. If we try to resist them then they tend to come back more persistently and with more force.
When we train in mindfulness we become more aware of the thoughts that enter our mind, physical sensations in our body and emotions that can otherwise overwhelm us. To start with this may apply only in a meditation when we are focusing on noticing these things but in time it happens as they arise in our daily life. This has the great benefit that we can watch them come and go rather than getting caught up in them.
Knowing where to start and what to do can be difficult, it is so easy to worry that you are doing something wrong! This simple technique really works for me both meditation and in life…
When you notice a sensation be it physical or emotional or you notice a thought then label it.
Here are some examples to help you get the idea, because I confess it does sound a bit odd, i promise that it works though!
If you feel a pain in your foot simply say to yourself ‘foot pain’.
If you keep worrying about the day ahead of you and your mind keeps planning say to your self ‘anxiety’ or ‘planning’.
If you feel angry because someone takes out their bad mood on you and you feel that you have been treated unfairly say to yourself ‘anger’.
If you keep thinking back to something that has happened that you wish you had dealt with differently say to yourself ‘ruminating’.
Get the idea? So, so, simple!
Why it works…
1) When we label our feelings we distance ourselves from them, they become less personal. It is less distressing than thinking ‘I am in so much pain’ or ‘I really messed up’. It stops us becoming our emotion because we aren’t identifying with it so closely.
2) It helps to stop us getting into a chain of negative thoughts. When we notice the feeling and label it we can congratulate ourselves on being so mindful which gives us a real boost and a sense of confidence that we are aware.
3) We can think more clearly about the feeling because we have not become so caught up in it. If we label something as ‘ruminating’ then our next clear thought can be how to correct the situation. An apology? Learning from the situation? Nothing seems so dramatic, we are able to see a way through.
4) It puts you in a position of power. If another person becomes aggressive with you and it may well make you angry. If you are able to label your sensation as ‘anger’ this distances you from becoming confrontational back. It puts you in the position of power because you have control of yourself and can chose how to react.
5) It adds a bit of comedy to what ever situation you are up against. You may feel a little silly as you label things to yourself – It stops us taking ourselves too seriously and allows us to see the lighter side of life.
So give it a go – it makes so much difference to the way I cope with all sorts of situations and I am sure you will see the same.