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Weathering Stormy Feelings
I know that looking back on my life I can see many instances where I spoke or acted impulsively, due to raging storms of emotion within me. Some very strong feelings are also triggered by our hormones. If we are unable to control these hormonal urges, they can make us make impulsive decisions about sexual matters. The consequences of these impulsive decisions can be very long lasting in our lives. If we can manage our feelings and better control our resulting thoughts and actions; we won’t have as many opportunities to deeply regret it later.
Much suffering can be brought into our lives and the lives of those who live in our immediate vicinity, because of the way we think, speak and react to our feelings. This effect ripples outward into our society like ripples in a pond, bringing either waves of additional suffering or waves of additional benefit into the lives of all those within our sphere of influence. We are all interconnected on some level. With the increased connections of the electronic age and all the connections of social media, our influence has a much wider reach than was possible in the past.
Because the way we treat each other today affects a much wider range of people, it reminds us to consider our responsibilities to each other. Although we are all responsible for ourselves and our behavior, we must remember how the things we say and the things we do can affect the lives of those around us. If we continue to react without thinking about our feelings; we will not be able to create the best possible life for ourselves.
We also need to consider how this ripple we create in the pond of our lives, by the way we react to our feelings and beliefs, also flows into the lives of our children and grandchildren. Furthermore, the way we react to our feelings can negatively affect the lives of those we interact with on a daily basis. For these and many other reasons, it is very wise to learn how to better deal with our inner feelings, so that we can have the best possible experiences in life.
Our feelings combine with our beliefs about ourselves and others, along with the rules we follow in our relationships with each other. This powerful mix of feelings and beliefs will influence how we behave in all situations we find ourselves in. Our personal combination of feelings and beliefs creates our thoughts. Our thoughts map out the reality we perceive within our life experience. Our life experience emerges from this flow of feelings, beliefs, thoughts, words and actions as we create it.
I like how Thich Nhat Hanh describes our feelings in his book Peace Is Every Step. He says: “In us there is a river of feelings, in which each drop of water is a different feeling, and each feeling relies on all the others for its existence. To observe it, we just sit on the bank of the river and identify each feeling as it emerges, flows and disappears.”
Thich Nhat Hanh also says that “Mindfulness is based on the principle of ‘non-duality’: our feeling is not separate from us or caused by something outside of us; our feeling is us, and right now we are that feeling.”
He goes on to describe how there are three types of feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. He says we should focus on observing our feelings, with love and attention; while using conscious breathing and awareness. This will help us recognize and acknowledge the feeling we are experiencing. If the feeling is unpleasant, we can consciously embrace our feeling, like a mother comforting a crying baby. Applying our energy to feelings in this way will help us transform unpleasant or turbulent feelings into neutral or pleasant feelings as we practice.
1. The first step in transforming our feelings is recognizing each feeling as it arises.
(Example from Peace is every breath) “Inhaling, I know that there is an unpleasant feeling in me.” “Exhaling, I know there’s an uncomfortable feeling inside me.” We want to keep our breathing calm and light so that our mind and body can begin to reach the same balance. As we identify a feeling with awareness, we can call it a name, such as “anger,” “sadness,” or “fear.” Don’t try to push the feeling away, just acknowledge it. “Hello fear, (anger, sadness) ) How are you today my friend?”
2. With the second step you will invite your feeling and awareness to join hands and connect with each other.
Allow your composure to welcome and care for the tumultuous discomfort you are experiencing. As the feelings connect with each other, mindfulness will calm the stormy feeling for you. It may seem scary at first, but with practice, your awareness will strengthen and help you transform these turbulent feelings.
3. The third step is to calm the feelings you are experiencing.
“By breathing I calm the activities of my body and mind.” Again use the visualization of the Mother holding and comforting the crying baby. As the baby feels the tenderness and love of the Mother (your conscious energy), the feeling (of the baby) will calm down. “Exhaling, I calm my…” (fear, anger, sadness…)
We don’t need to bury our feelings, dismiss them or chase them away. What we need to do is carefully embrace them with love. As you lovingly accept the feeling, with your conscious energy; you will transform the stormy feeling, with your love and compassion, into a more beneficial and pleasant feeling. With this gentle approach, we will be able to withstand the storms that pass through the branches of our being. Mindfulness will help us realize that all our feelings are an important part of us. When we acknowledge and embrace our turbulent feelings, they can be transformed into positive and beneficial energies. Then we can continue to create a happier, more positive and successful life experience for ourselves. This will also benefit all those who are especially dear to us.
I highly suggest reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace Is Every Step, for a more detailed and comprehensive explanation of this wonderful process.
In the Christian tradition, the feelings and thoughts we experience are discussed in Philippians 4:6-8 as follows. “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, manifest your desires to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally. , Brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things…”
I think that an attitude of gratitude and a heart filled with gratitude along with lips that seek every opportunity to praise; it will lift our hearts from many moments of sadness or despair. Additionally, a mindfulness approach to transforming our feelings can be used in any faith.
Your life is not determined so much by what life brings you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind views what is happening. Khalil Gibran
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/khalil_gibran
When dealing with your own feelings or those of others, consider the words of Jalaluddin Rumi, a thirteenth-century Persian poet. “Listen with the ears of tolerance! See with the eyes of compassion! Speak the language of love.”
In short, we all experience a wide range of emotions. Enjoy the pleasant; transform unpleasant stormy feelings by consciously accepting them. Acknowledge all feelings, because they are a valid expression of who you are and what they mean to you. Love and accept yourself feelings and all! Seek to better understand why you feel the way you do, and in this way you will better understand yourself and the others who are important in your life.
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