This has been one of those weeks when I’ve had to stop and remember what day it is at least a few times. Every day has been so full, that it’s hard to believe it’s only been a week. Time’s funny like that. The same amount of it – whether an hour or a month – can feel long or short, fast or slow, depending on how much and what you’re doing. Basically, depending on where your head’s at through most of it.
Our “no-fail” mindfulness challenge for this weekend starts with a throwback to earlier this week, when we talked about those times when your head – and heart – get stuck in the negative zone. As human beings, we have a tendency to cling to thoughts and feelings that don’t make us feel good, sometimes just because they feel familiar. Comfortably uncomfortable, you might say. We replay tough conversations, dig into narratives of self-judgment and unworthiness, and essentially invite the vibes we don’t like to stay the longest.
We are so willing to admit that joy is short-lived, but when we’re sad, we think it’s forever, which only becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The fastest way to get your emotions off the extended-stay plan is to notice them. I know that sounds crazy, because when have you had an emotion you didn’t notice?
Probably more often than you realize. Emotions go undetected when your thoughts decide they’re unwelcome. That doesn’t mean they go away, but it does mean that you’re less likely to register them consciously. Your body knows, though. Clenched fists or jaw even though you’re “definitely not angry anymore”? Stomach or headaches even though “everything’s fine”? There you go: exhibit A…and maybe B and C, too.
Your “mindfulness challenge” this weekend is about not shutting them down. Don’t worry (ha! a feeling!), you don’t have to keep it up all weekend long. But, you should designate a certain period of time to be on the lookout for the ways you feel at different points in time. The goal here is neither to hang on tight, nor to push away. It’s simply to notice when an emotion arises, take note of how it feels, and observe how it finds its way out of you when you don’t give it any good reason to stay.
It’s not an easy balance to strike, this noticing without attachment thing. It takes practice, which is what this weekend is all about. It will also help you develop the ability to distinguish between what’s actually happening, versus the story unfolding in your mind about what’s happening.
There’s only a difference if you notice it. Otherwise, what you feel is what you get.
Photo credit: Min An