If we are truly honest with ourselves, one of the reasons we keep so busy and invite distractions into our lives is because it keeps us from feeling the emotions we’d rather not have. If we work lots of hours and then fill our non-work hours with other activities or distractions, we can fall into bed believing we’ve been productive, ignoring the nagging feeling of fear, self-doubt, and loneliness we want don’t want to acknowledge.
Practicing mindfulness doesn’t mean we will always be happy and upbeat. It’s not aboutfaking joy or peace. Mindfulness allows us to be with a wide range of experiences, including difficult internal states such as agitation and fear. It’s about accepting and experiencing our emotions, physical sensations and thoughts in each moment for what they are. Mindfulness offers us a healthy way to be with whatever we are experiencing, including “negative” emotions, without trying to push them away or control them. People who live mindfully understand that all emotions are necessary. Because it brings clarity and awareness to all our internal experiences, it can play a strategic role in balancing the accelerator and brake of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. By accepting all emotions, people who live mindfully cancope more easily with them and the challenges we all experience in our lives. Mindfulness brings emotional stability into our worlds, sometimes for the first time.
In his book, Aware (2018), Daniel Siegel explains this stabilization of attention as an even hovering of awareness that allows us to observe different mind states, including stress reactions. He also believes that mindfulness lets the prefrontal cortex of the brain to be flexible and adaptive, thus producing greater calmness. This combination of observation and calmness can go a long way in helping you avoid getting caught up in your mental content and mindless reactions.
Practicing mindfulness doesn’t mean your life will suddenly be all rainbows and unicorns. Life happens to all of us. However, mindfulness does give us a more effective set of tools for dealing with daily life. When you experience difficult emotions, such as anger, fear, or frustration, it’s time to remember R.A.I.N.
R—Recognize what is going on.
It’s amazing how unaware of our own emotions we are! And when we begin practicing mindfulness, we become intimately acquainted with them—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Recognizing may seem like a “duh” thing to recommend, but we are frequently out of touch with exactly what we are feeling. Practicing mindfulness helps us experience our emotions without any overwhelm or resistance.
A— Accept it as it is; allow.
It is human nature to cling to feeling good and resisting what we consider to be negative or painful. Because of this, we often push away or push down our less attractive emotions. But in mindful living, we practice being with our thoughts and feelings exactly as they are. That develops self-knowledge which leads to more enlightened and connected living.
I— Investigate the physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings.
In other words, be with the sensations. Feel them fully. The investigation doesn’t mean analyzing the sensations, thoughts, and feelings. The aim here is not to figure out why you feel this way, but only to experience it fully.
N— Non- identification.
When we experience strong emotions, we often identify with them. We create a story about them, maybe from past experiences from long ago. When we do this, we often end up making those thoughts and emotions part of us. “I’m overly sensitive. I’ve always been that way.” “My temper always gets the best of me.” “People always screw me over. Why do I always get the short end of the straw?” These thoughts and beliefs are samples of how we turn emotion into a part of us. We identify with it. We make it part of our identity.
Part of the aim and benefit of practicing being present is to recognize that our emotions are just that. They aren’t us, and we aren’t them. Once we understand and feel this, we can sit with our difficult emotions and watch them dissipate.
The R.A.I.N. process will give you distance from the strong emotions you are experiencing so that you can understand that you aren’t your emotions and thoughts. You are simply experiencing them.
We as human beings were made amazingly complex. Because of how the mind-body system is so complexly interwoven, our ability to transform stress and respond with greater calmness has a profound knock-on effect on our physical health. The most beneficial medical care begins with self-care, which lets you to have some control over your own well-being. Practicing mindfulness is a powerful way of being actively involved in your own self-care and enhancing your overall wellness.
From us at Zenzile Life we wish you to mindfully start caring for yourself.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy.This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.