As I described in Part 1, there is much more going on with us when we experience stress than the obvious event and resulting distress reaction that we observe. We all think thoughts about the events we experience and those thoughts are determined largely by conditioning and beliefs that we acquire over time. The thoughts we think then trigger our emotional reaction or emotional state. Part 2 of this series offered a Mindfulness Meditation Technique to manage our thoughts.
Unless you have gained some skill at Mindfulness, you may not know immediately what thoughts you are thinking. To access your thought process it is often more useful to start with noticing your feelings.
When you are aware of feeling badly or stressed, take a moment to reflect on what you have been thinking about. Chances are you have just had a series of distressing thoughts that have triggered negative feelings. Feelings of fear, frustration, tension, overwhelm, panic, annoyance, apathy, and so on are triggered by your thoughts that define what the event means to you. Once you identify the thoughts that define the situation for you, you can apply Technique #2 to let those thoughts go and replace them with neutral or more positive outlook.
What if you are not aware of all the feelings you have about the situation? This may be the case if you aren’t comfortable experiencing and expressing feelings. Many people react to stress by pushing down or numbing out their feelings believing that this will relieve stress. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Feelings cannot be eliminated, they can only be delayed! Your emotions are an important part of your stress-handling mechanism. Your emotions, and any physical sensations are your body’s reactions to your thoughts. Entertain thoughts or a belief you are under attack – your body will react with feelings of fear – whether the threat is real or not.
To use your emotions to identify when you are having negative thoughts about an event, you must sharpen your awareness and listen! Ironically, listening to your body and acknowledging emotions can give immediate relief all by itself. Awareness of your emotional state is the first step to shifting your mind set.
To deal with stress effectively, get busy reflecting on your body sensations, feelings and the thoughts that are triggering those sensations Meditation Technique #2). The adage, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” applies here. Rather than trying to change what you can’t control in your environment, change what you can control – your perspective on the situation.
Mindfulness Meditation Technique #3:
Do this often. Focus on your body and notice any sensations. By sensations I mean where in your body you feel tension, stress, or pain.
Then focus on noticing your sensations. When I say noticing I also mean observing it and accepting it.
Often when we notice a tension or ache we generally are bothered that it is there. Therefore we tend to reject it or resist it. If we resist it, it will continue. What we resist…persists. Here is a good tip: accept whatever you feel as it is.
Our bodies are talking to us through feelings and sensations. By acknowledging that you accept that the pain, or tension is there, it will have permission to leave you. Give it a try!
Be mindful of your inner world of sensations. Mindfulness Meditation will transform your stress to peacefulness and even joy. Practice, practice, practice and let me know how it’s going for you.