I pay close attention when I start reading/hearing/noticing the same messages coming to me simultaneously. It’s like the Universe is saying, “this is important!” It’s often a message that I need in my life at just that time.
Most mornings after my meditation, I read a passage in a beautiful book called “Journey to the Heart” by Melody Beattie. This passage entitled “Feel Your Feelings” really spoke to me and here is an excerpt:
You don’t have to do anything about your feelings. Understand that. Believe that. They are only feelings. Emotional energy is important. It’s important not to block it, stop it, deny it, or repress it. It’s important to discharge it. To value it. To value ourselves.
But you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to act on every feeling. You don’t need to control every emotion or let your emotions control you. Simply feel whatever you need to feel. Become fully and completely conscious of what you feel.
Then… the next day I read this message in my friend Jodi’s newsletter and I was like, “Hell yeah!” She is the founder of Mindful is the New Skinny and she rocks. She has also become a dear friend. Here’s what she had to say:
Why do people think mindful means nice? When I’m out with friends or family and I say something sarcastic or get upset about something, I often hear, “I thought you were so mindful.” Well let me just clarify. Mindful doesn’t mean nice. It can mean compassionate, and I do believe that I have compassion for others, but it doesn’t mean that I never get upset, angry, sad or cranky. Mindful simply means being aware of what you are experiencing and allowing that experience to unfold as it is, without wishing it were different. So, if I am cranky, irritable, angry, sad, or sarcastic, it just means that I am human. Mindfulness does not cure us of all emotions and feelings or make everything wonderful. It just allows us to be aware of them. And yes, I am aware when I’m angry. It allows us to pause and notice what we are experiencing, so maybe we can respond rather than react. It’s not always full proof, but it is a practice, one that I am always working toward. It means aware, not nice.
Jodi hit the nail on the head! I went through a phase where I even thought that since I was meditating so much and practicing mindfulness I was never supposed to feel ruffled, or annoyed, or upset. It’s just not reality, and my practice helped me even more when I realized that I had unrealistic expectations that were actually impeding my growth.
Our feelings and emotions are short lived, and they don’t define us. Instead of feeling badly about an emotion I am having, which is a complete waste of time, I now ask myself lots of questions when unpleasant emotions come up like:
- Where do I feel that in my body?
- It’s interesting I am having this reaction. Where is this coming from? How can I investigate this more?
- What can I learn in this situation? What is my responsibility here?
- Am I making an assumption?
- Am I taking something personally?
Mindfulness is moment to moment awareness without judgement. It’s ridiculous to think that if we are more aware that everything is going to be sunshine and roses every second! Our job is to bear witness to how we feel and understand that it’s just a feeling. It isn’t permanent. Just because we feel sad in a moment doesn’t mean we are a sad person.
For me a big benefit of my practice is how much quicker I recover when I am angry, upset, overwhelmed, or frustrated. I don’t stew anymore. I am armed with the tools that help me to respond instead of react, and ask myself the questions above, that will help me more forward.
And yes, some days it’s easier than others. I am human too 🙂