Could you use a boost of positive emotions? Emotional well-being and positive emotions can come from many different sources. We can experience more positivity through socializing with friends and family, exercising, doing things we love, and if all else fails psychotherapy and Prozac.
Though, another source that is effective, simple, and convenient is meditation. This is a practice and activity that works best for me when I feel irritable and agitated.
Meditation provides a time for inner-peace and momentary presence, which can help us to “let go” and find calm contentment during difficult times.
It’s also a practice that can improve our ability and inclination to be mindful and aware of our emotions.
If we want to be more mindful and experience greater peace of mind we must learn to train our thinking. Just as a pianist or basketball player has to practice and train to develop proper coordination, we have to practice being with our thoughts and feelings to recognize emotions and regulate them. If you didn’t catch my previous article on starting to practice mediation, below are some keys to begin successful mediation practice. Keys to successful meditation
- Find a quiet/sacred place where you can meditate without being disturbed.
- Prepare physically – stretch, wear comfortable clothes
- Sit in a relaxed, straight, and still position – start with the bellows breath before meditating to stay alert.
- Slow and steady practice – Don’t worry about how long you meditate at first. Have a nonjudgmental mind and stay positive.
- Stick to a schedule – Morning or night? After work? Just don’t meditate after big meals.
- Use music to help be in a meditative mood.
- Your intention is most important – you are the student, teacher, pupil and master. You hold the key to greater awareness.
Meditate for emotional freedom
As you develop a basic meditative practice you can begin working toward more specific outcomes, such as more positive emotions. By meditating on different emotions you can become aware of what leads to and triggers these emotions in you, and recognize how different emotions can counter and offset each other. One particular practice is to focus on breathing in the emotional state you want and breathing out the afflicted state of mind. For instance, as you meditate, breathe in calm and peace of mind, and breathe out all your stress and worry from the day. As you do this you can gain greater emotional awareness by being mindful of the different thoughts, feelings, and sensations associated with each emotion. Feel them in your body and heart and learn to have a greater connection with the emotions you want. This can be done for any emotional pair. If you want greater compassion, focus on breathing in compassion and breathing out anger. If you want more courage, focus on breathing in courage and breathing out fear. Here are some emotions to transform.
- Compassion in place of anger
- Courage in place of fear
- Gratitude in place of envy
- Joy in place of sadness
- Love in place of hate
- Acceptance in place of intolerance
- Curiosity in place of apprehension
The first step in this process is to work through the afflicted emotional state. For instance, if you feel angry, recognize the feeling and then let it go. Don’t get stuck ruminating and brooding about what led to this feeling, and don’t let yourself get worked up and overwhelmed by your thoughts. Just acknowledge it and then bring your attention back to your meditative device, whether it be a mantra, prayer, breath, or other sensation. After you are able to let go of your afflicted emotion, you can begin to focus on the positive or counter emotion you want to cultivate. Use your meditative device as an anchor for concentration as you build positive emotions. Really begin to focus on how the different emotions feel and how you are able to cultivate these feelings. What are thinking about? How does anger feel compared to compassion? How could you have more compassion? If you have never recognized the experience of some of these emotions the practice will be more difficult, but a few ways to cultivate positive emotions are through visualizing a person, place, or thing that provides the positive feelings, or by remembering a time when you experienced the feeling in the past and mentally reliving this experience. Every emotion has an energy level that comes with it and being aware of our emotions provides a chance to tune in to this frequency. This exercise provides an opportunity to really embrace and recognize how each emotion feels within your body, and enhances the ability to connect with these positive emotions in everyday life. As you begin practicing meditation you will experience the effect of greater mindfulness and emotional stability. Begin to look for these positive emotions in everything you do, and make it a habit to be open and receptive to them. Photo credit: allspice1