Coping with Emotions using Mindfulness
In this author talk at Google, Michael Taft looks at emotional intelligence — how we can work with our own emotions much more effectively using evolutionary biology, psychology, and mindfulness meditation. And Star Wars. A crash course in mindfulness of emotions.
Although emotional sensations can arise anywhere in the body, they are much more likely to arise in the belly, chest, throat, or face. These are the emotional hotspots in the body, the regions where emotional sensations can get huge. That means that other areas are much less likely to host gigantic emotional sensations, which turns out to be a useful and convenient thing. You can meditate on those emotionally “cold” spots, such as your hands and feet, and stay in touch with your body. As long as you’re in touch with your body, you won’t be completely dissociated. You’ll be anchored in the sensations, rather than checked out into a dream-like state. And since the emotional sensations in these locations are typically much smaller or nonexistent, you won’t be overwhelmed either.
The easiest practice is to feel your hands, your feet, or both. Concentrate on the emotionally-neutral sensations in these areas. For example, explore the sensations in your palms, the back of your hand, each of your fingers, the spaces between the fingers, and so on. Even your entire arms and legs, if they are not filled with too much emotional sensation. Contact as much of the body as is “safe,” — meaning areas not filled with overwhelming feelings. The thighs and butt can also feel quite neutral and emotionally grounding.
Check out Michael W. Taft’s online course in Mindfulness of Emotions called “Mindful Emotions Training.”