Last updated January, 2017.
One of the biggest challenges we have to overcome is judging ourselves, and holding an opinion that we shouldn’t have certain thoughts or emotions.
People experienced in mindfulness and meditation don’t have a magic power that repels anger, frustration, or the like. What they do have is increased awareness of what arises, and the ability to notice it all without getting caught up in it.
This prevents them from following their minds down a path culminating in conditioned behavior and habitual actions and reactions.
Here's something that can help cultivate this ability:
Remove the "I."
To help overcome the urge to judge ourselves for things that arise, we can shift our perspective: instead of looking at it as “I was frustrated,” look at it as “there is frustration.”
You aren’t angry, you aren’t irritated, you aren’t scared. Anger is there, irritation is there, fear is there.
This view makes it easier to observe what’s happening without building a story around it. When you build a story around the anger, irritation, or fear, you propagate more thoughts and emotions and bury yourself in a landslide of mental noise.
But, when you approach these situations from the neutral standpoint of removing the "I," it’s easier to let everything be as it is - independent of you and your attention.
What arises will cease. Your mind tries to convince you that thoughts, emotions, and urges are critical — that they’ll never go away, and in many cases are a matter of “life or death.”
But, you no longer have to take the bait.
As Shunryu Suzuki said:
"Let thoughts come and go. Just don't serve them tea."
Thoughts are just thoughts. Emotions are just emotions. They hold no special power over you unless you give it to them.
Are you struggling with extreme emotions or unhealthy mental states?
Awareness-based therapy can help.
It teaches you how your mind works, and provides a path to move beyond "coping" to achieving and maintaining a more consistent state of well-being. Find out more about our online, self-paced program here.
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