Mindfulness is much more than a word.
As I begin my journey in graduate school I also begin my journey into becoming more mindful. Neither of which are easy, and although I have only just begun each, I already know that practicing being mindful will be as great, or a greater, challenge in my life.
I see mindfulness as being present in the moment and being aware of my own feelings and the needs that instigate them.
As I begin this journey I feel I’m lacking the tools necessary and/or the helpful exercises that can assist in managing the moments when emotion exerts its influence.
Sometimes it’s not too difficult to single out the need/feeling relationship. Often times, however, an emotional tidal wave hits me and knocks me far off course.
Over the past few months I have attempted to observe myself in detail. What is happening inside before that tidal wave comes? It’s a complex and somewhat obscure process that has required much observation and reflection.
If I were to explain these difficult times in words, it’s as if my chest is a nuclear reactor. Atoms are buzzing around inside of me, creating an immense energy. When certain incidents occur those atoms pick up speed and the energy they produce grows. For the sake of this analogy, those incidents can be seen as the reactors control rods. As different things happen control rods are withdrawn, which allows the atoms to buzz around faster, thus creating more energy.
As the day carries on that energy stays with me. Sometimes that energy feels almost hidden. If I am not watching myself very carefully, it is like that force isn’t with me any longer. However, when something else happens, it comes roaring back with more ferocity than ever. When too many control rods are taken away the reactor overheats and melts-down. When that happens the failsafes to my control room (ie brain) are cut. I might as well be a walking, headless ball of emotion.
When I return to equilibrium I can assess the damage. Finding empathy and compassion for myself at this stage is near impossible.
The more I ponder all of this the more I wonder how others feel? Surely everyone experiences emotion differently. It would be hugely helpful to hear how others handle the intensity of emotion.
If you have a few moments I would love to hear your answers to the questions below.
What concrete exercises or measures can we take when powerful emotions seek to control us?
How can we empathize and be compassionate with ourselves when we fall down, especially over the same hurdle, time and again?
How do your powerful emotions effect you?
Sitting down and observing myself and my emotions has been an eye opening experience. I feel like I have seen myself in a whole new light. I feel as if there is a whole new world for me to explore.
Truly, mindfulness is so much more than just a word.