"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor." - Thich Nhat Hanh
There are moments after even a nourishing weekend when you woke up still with a negative mindset. It may be that you have slept unwell and your emotions have "spilled over" into your wakeful consciousness. Or it may be that our default mindset is linked with a negative bias, so as soon as we wake up, we may scan in our mind what to worry about, what to tackle, what to resolve. This default mindset often includes a Judge - judging how well or unwell we have slept, judging where our body aches or doesn`t, judging how we look at our first glance in the mirror.
If we are not aware of the default settings in our mind, what can then happen is that we carry this dreadful and judgmental energy over to our entire day. It is like wearing not rose-coloured, but black-coloured glasses while doing our daily activities, opening our messages, and reacting to outside events. As you can tell, these black-coloured glasses only exacerbate our experiences in life, and the more negative our experiences are, the deeper we likely are in the hole of negativity.
But nothing is lost and there is hope - in you. Even though the hole of negativity can be quite uncomfortable, unbearable, and stressful there is hope that we can get out of it. Even if just step by step. But every situation that challenges us is, in fact, a learning opportunity in disguise - to learn to deal with another range of our human emotions, to train our muscles of mindfulness, and to know that we always have the free will to choose.
1. Acknowledge and feel all the emotions that are currently present
If you imagine a grumpy child that doesn`t like a situation or feels hurt, angry, disappointed because, for example, some friends chose not to play with her / him, you may see that the grumpy child, with her / his arms crossed, is resisting the situation. By resisting the reality, that has already happened, you are not only not changing the reality, but also consuming a lot of energy of your body, mind, and soul. Your body releases stress hormones and is tight by resisting and staying in this painful position. Your mind is constantly busy with analysing the status quo and judging the people involved. Your soul may not be present at all given your mind has taken over.
So, as any parent would approach this, in order to help release your grumpy child out of their tight position, we have to first realize how our child is currently feeling. Without knowing and understanding how our child is currently feeling, we cannot help in a way that is needed. Of course, our response may not be perfect from the start, but at least will be accompanied with open compassion instead of another harsh judgment. So whenever we are in the position of the grumpy child, try to observe the present moment:
Where are you?
What are you feeling?
Where do you feel this in your body?
What else are you seeing, hearing, sensing?
How is your breathing?
2. Trust the process when training your mindfulness muscle
The aforementioned questions are a simple gateway to come back to this present moment. You don`t have to understand the meaning behind these questions - this is the great thing about mindfulness. Unlike most things in life that we have to justify or understand in depth, mindfulness is a refreshing opportunity to exactly let this expectation and pressure go. Mindfulness is about practicing our mental muscle just like we train our physical fitness in a gym. It is, therefore, also about trusting the process without seeing instant results - something that we have got used to in today`s "instant gratification" world.
Often when people think of mindfulness, they think of a monk sitting in a peaceful meditation posture on the top of a mountain while the sun is rising. Often people are also worried and unconsciously resist meditation right away suggesting that "My mind is so busy, it cannot be quieten!" Other people often also wonder about the impact of mindfulness, asking "I have focused on my breath, I have observed my emotions - why am I still under such stress?"
All these experiences are valid and this is the beauty of mindfulness, there is not really one golden roadmap for the 6bn people on earth - I like to say that there is just our personal experience in this very present moment. As already mentioned, we can turn our frustations into fascination and see this as a learning opportunity or another data point. How fascinating that my perception is of a peaceful monk - haven`t I just read from celebrities that they practice mindfulness, too? How fascinating that our mind is so busy - is this constant chatter actually serving me? How fascinating that one part of me thinks that mindfulness hasn`t changed much - what expectations do I have from mindfulness (is this even mindful of me)? Don`t forget that by default in our current judgmental world, we have not been trained and used to explore with curiosity, so try to not judge yourself and your (unquestionable!) progress.
3. Using our free will to choose something else - something that is serving our wellbeing
Even if there may be not a "big bang" or the effects may be only visible after a longer period, when practicing mindfulness, we already create a new field of opportunities and creative choices immediately. You may have heard of the metaphor that when an external stimulation comes in, our mind reacts almost automatically, often in a stressful fight-flight-or-freeze mode. Mindfulness allows us to create a break, a room, a tool to extend the gap between the stimulation and (re)action. Thus, it allows us to not react out of a fearful and stressful position, but to act consciously and choose a response that is not only more aligned with our values, but also serving our wellbeing more.
When haven`t we all responded to an email too quickly because we were so triggered and felt the need to defend ourselves? When haven`t we jumped at conclusions about other people or situations because we didn`t wait for another perspective and it was easier to make assumptions to get past our emotions? You may be able to tell that the fight-flight-or-freeze mode only fuels the cycle we are all trapped in. To break this cycle and create more compassion than confrontation, we can make use of mindfulness.
Think of it this way - if you knew all your actions (and thoughts) are recorded and broadcasted worldwide, how would you react? To avoid considering only others` expectations and views, what is also important for you? Be compassionate with you during this process - if you are, for example, being triggered by another person`s comment, ask yourself why this is the case. It often is less about the other person than about you. Are there some past wounds that can now be further healed? Can you give yourself even more compassion and love than you already do? What does the Universe want to tell you with this person / situation / emotion?
I hope these 3 tips to address a dreadful, negative morning can help you to start anew into your day! These 3 tools, in fact, can help you in any situation, whether in the morning, during lunch time, or late at night.
Love, from me to you,
How are you applying mindfulness? Let me know by sending an email to email@example.com – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Inspiration: Tara Mohr - Playing Big
Reflection: What am I currently resisting instead of accepting the reality?
Intention: I acknowledge my current emotions and thoughts, I trust the process when coming back to this present moment, and choose compassion for myself.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural founder of @vietnamwellbeing, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com