June 19, 2010

Mindfulness of emotions

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 pm by kellyfdennis

So, how did you do with eating your raisins mindfully? I think it’s such an awesome experience to eat food and actually appreciate the taste, smell, look, and essence of it. I hope you tried it.

I’d like to apply that same concept of mindfulness to emotions.  Ya know, emotions get a bad reputation among some of us human beings. However, they serve some pretty important functions.  Think about babies before they can speak.  How do they communicate?  Crying, laughing, startle, smile, etc.  They tell us what they need using their emotional selves. Emotions communicate our needs to others, even as adults.

Emotions also motivate us for action.  Imagine that you come home from work (or school) and there is no one else there and the door is ajar. Immediately, most of us would experience some level of fear.  “I know I closed and locked it before I left.”  That’s when our “flight or fight” response kicks in.  Our fear motivates us to explore and defend, or flee and call 911. (both are appropriate responses, by the way.) Can you think of a time when emotions have organized, prepared, or motivated you for action?

Our emotions also communicate our needs to ourselves, if we let them. Sometimes we get confused here. Let’s say that someone does not say hello to you when passing you on the street; it would not necessarily be a cause for injury in and of itself.  However, if you have a history of being ignored by important people in your life, you may interpret this situation as being unlovable or rejected. Therefore, you must interpret your emotions in the present, not based on past experience. Recognizing the way our emotions communicate about the past, can help us understand why we react the way we do in the present.

Am I being too psychobabbly? Ok.. Just experience emotions in the “now” not in the “way back when”. The person passing on the street may have had a host of “stuff” going on with them and it probably wasn’t about you at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about you at all. If we can learn to experience emotions “in the now” we can use them to be intuitive about a host of experiences. When have your emotions given you info about a situation versus giving you info based on a past experience?

So, here’s an experiential exercise I sometimes do with the people who sit across from me.  Try it and see if it may be the beginning of a new emotional experience for you.

“Begin by sitting in a comfortable position.  Take a deep breath through your nose and let it our your mouth. Do this three times, paying attention to the breath moving in and out. In your ‘thought self’ tell yourself that you are accepted and loved, your emotions are valid.  Tell yourself again. Allow yourself to ‘look at’ and accept a painful feeling which you experienced, but wished you did not. Let it be just what it is.  Don’t judge or criticize the feeling, just allow it. Breathe in and breathe out, paying attention to your breaths. Allow yourself to slowly return to your surroundings.”

Long live emotions!


  1. hope2be said,

    Wow – hard stuff…but good stuff! I’m getting A LOT of practice in this area right now. I’ve been doing a really good job of helping those around me with their emotional responses and triggers and how they can possibly reframe them…. BUT I was not doing a very good job of looking at my own emotions. I was holding back and doing a modified stuffing of my emotions. Today I finally spoke about the feelings that have been present and freely expressed the emotions attached to those feelings. Not juding the emotions is the difficult part!

    • kellyfdennis said,

      Good for you! You bring up a good point…”not judging the emotions”. I think that can be the hardest part as well…we are our own worst critics!
      Hope you are doing well:)

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ponderings on life, food, God, and love

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