Last updated October, 2019.
note: we link to our free guide to mindfulness and meditation at the bottom of the page (no email required).
One of the biggest challenges we have to overcome is judging ourselves, and holding the 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, anxiety, or the like. What they do have is increased awareness of what comes into being, and the ability to notice it all without getting caught up in it.
This prevents them from following their minds down a path that culminates in conditioned behavior and habitual actions and reactions.
Here's something that can help strengthen this ability:
Remove the "I."
To help overcome the urge to judge ourselves for things that come into being, 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. There is anger, there is irritation, there is fear.
This view makes it easier to observe what’s happening without building a story around it about "you." When you build a story around the anger, irritation, or fear about "you," the implied ownership only serves to strengthen the anger, irritation, or fear. This perpetuates thoughts and emotions, which give rise to more thoughts and emotions, burying you in a landslide of mental drama.
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 comes into being will cease; what arises will pass. Your mind tries to convince you otherwise, of course. It tells you everything is critical - that it will never go away, and in many cases it's a matter of “life or death.”
But, you no longer have to take the bait. That anger will pass the same as it arose - provided you don't give it the fuel to persist. So will the irritation. So will the fear.
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 let them.
It's time to stop letting them!
Held hostage by the drama your mind creates? We can help.