Emotions play an important role in how we perceive and interact with the world around us. We each experience different emotions throughout our life and we experience them in response to changing situations. Similarly, different experiences in our lives incite different emotions to differing intensity. However, there are certain moments that subject us to negative life experiences, that tend to control our thoughts, feelings and actions. Such experiences interfere with our present moment awareness leaving us  emotionally distressed. 

Negative emotional experiences generate various stressors that become barriers in living life more happily and peacefully. Experiencing negative emotions like anxiety, sadness, anger, fear and grief often impact our physical as well as mental health. When you have difficulty in letting go of past emotional experiences, they lead to cognitive biases, poor self-esteem and insecurities. Holding on to such emotional states takes away your inner peace unless you heal yourself by becoming consciously more aware of your emotions.

“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we have a clear picture of it.”

– Benedict Spinoza

Emotions play a greater role in our well-being.

Every emotion is a message that guides us towards self-evolvement. They are important for a healthy mind and body connection. Emotions are a source of information as they bring our attention to what is going on around us. So in a way our emotional health is directly proportional to our ability to cope with both positive or negative. It has more to do with how well you regulate your emotions. 

When you can better regulate your emotions, you are more in control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. They improve your coping  skills and help you bounce back from setbacks when confronted with life’s challenges.

Being emotionally healthy doesn’t however mean avoiding negative emotions. Most of us fall into the trap of thinking that negative emotions are detrimental to our well being and treat them as a sign of low emotional intelligence. As a result, we often try to move away, or avoid emotions that make us feel bad or uncomfortable. 

Trying to hide away from, or stopping them proves to be more harmful. The more you deny, suppress, or disregard, the more they keep you emotionally stuck. Unresolved emotions are not only bad for your overall well-being, but also are harmful when it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices and in building healthy relationships. 

Positive nature of negative emotions

Changing how we feel is the motivation behind virtually all of our behaviours, yet, we are limited in our ability to deal with the negative emotional patterns that we habitually experience. No emotion is without purpose. It is when we begin to further explore and understand the purpose behind each emotion that we learn new ways to grow out of our unpleasant or painful past experiences.  

While we label certain emotions negative, it is important to acknowledge that all emotions are completely normal to experience. Before you grow in awareness of your negative emotions, you should also seek to understand that emotions are completely normal to experience, be it negative or positive. Where positive emotions signal that all is well in our immediate environment, negative alert us to things that are not quite right. 

Negative emotions instruct us that a change is needed and we need to act to create the change we want to. When we understand the positive message underlying of our negative emotions, we can really start to see how to regulate them better. For instance, most of us try to deny our fear or wallow in it as we consider it as negative. But it indicates us about potential dangers and is a way to prepare us to cope with consequences. Anxiety spurs us into action. 

Anger indicates unfairness and lets us know that there is something that need to be addressed. It encourages us to reflect on what is frustrating and what we can do to restore peace. Similarly, sadness helps us pay more attention to detail as to what we care about most. Despair can be a useful reminder that we lack something. Guilt on the other hand acts as our moral compass. Overwhelm points to our need to prioritise. 

Emotions vs Feelings 

Though we all use emotion and feeling interchangeably, they both are different. Where emotions are low-level responses and have a stronger physical grounding, feeling is an extension of our emotions. Emotions are easier to measure objectively through physical cues. Whereas feelings are more subjective and are influenced by our personal experiences and interpretations. 

Feelings often inform the role of our emotion and how we make judgment about a situation. Our emotions on the other provide us with feedback on the safety of our environment and our capacity to handle given situations. So in a way,  negative emotions draw our attention to something not right, unpleasant or something that makes us fearful.

Since any emotion we experience is low-level reaction, you get to decide how you respond to them and not let them direct your behaviour. Acknowledging negative emotions is a healthy way to self regulate, however, there is a downside to dwelling in them too much. When emotions have wrong intensity, duration and frequency, they can be harmful. We end up ruminating over our past negative emotional experiences and this depletes our cognitive ability. Developing emotional awareness reduces the intensity of our negative emotions where we learn new ways to respond to negative experiences. 

Growing in emotional awareness, you tend to access more joy and fulfilment 

When you grow more aware of your emotions, you channel them constructively to address deeper needs and seek out positive outcomes. The key to grow in awareness is to recognise that you are in charge and not your emotions. Accepting your emotions and validating your feelings leads you on the path to build better resilience. 

Coming to terms with difficult emotions such as anxiety and fear is important to build deeper connection with your authentic self and what you want to achieve. The more you learn to be aware of your emotional states, the better you will be at managing them. By  growing in  awareness, you gravitate towards finding better solutions to liberate from the challenges you might be facing.

Next time you experience a negative emotion, take a moment to notice any thoughts, feelings and behaviours that arise in reaction to this emotion. Become aware of any thought patterns that arise and accept these emotions and any subsequent thoughts, feelings and behaviours without judgment. 

Moving forward..

Cultivating beginners mind and a sense of curiosity helps you adapt a fresh perspective. Approach your life circumstances without assumptions and preconceptions. Have an open mind with no perceived notion of any situation. Notice if your perception of the situation changes by not attaching significant meaning to any particular interpretation.

Be aware of your physical sensations. Certain distressing emotions increase our body’s fight and flight responses. This in turn influences our thoughts and behaviours. Becoming more aware of which physical sensation is related to what emotion  can help you learn how these feelings may contribute to negative thought and behavioural pattern.

Bring your negative emotions into a space of acceptance rather than being stuck in the mindset that they need to be avoided. Focus on their positive nature  and accept them without making judgments. This leads to changing how you react to impulses. Accepting them as natural part of being human helps you you switch to positive ways of responding. 

Treat yourself with compassion and kindness. Trust and validate all your feelings as genuine. Be mindful of your emotional experiences with daily mindfulness habit. Practicing  few minutes a day can result in shifting your awareness of how you perceive your negative emotional states. Take time to be reflective of past experiences without repressing or ignoring them. 

“When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to your life.” — Tara Meyer Robson

Many of us are often confused with the concept of consciousness. Sometimes we use it as a mere mental activity and sometimes we think it means merely being awake. In our day-to-day activities, we attend to so many chores, big or small. ][But most of these are done mechanically and unconsciously. Even when it comes to some of our simple habits, we are in a hurry to get to the next one or feel that it is a waste of time to give undue importance to small things which we do out of habit.

If we can grow conscious to what we do, we can make a big difference to our lives and enhance the quality of our lives. And we grow our conscious awareness through the practice of mindfulness. Through mindfulness, we get in touch with our individual awareness of our unique thoughts, memories, and feelings.

Since our conscious experiences are constantly shifting and changing, for instance, one moment you may be focused on reading this, the next moment, your consciousness may shift to a memory of conversation you had earlier with someone. This ever shifting stream of thoughts can change from one moment to another. Altered levels of consciousness may cause states of constant stress, anxiety and lack of focus.

Bringing your attention consciously to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, you can develop complete awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Being aware of your mind, body and feelings creates a feeling of wholeness rather than being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

“Peace of mind arrives the moment you make peace with the content of your mind .”

Rasheed Ogunlaru

Mindfulness changes your state of awareness

At the most basic level, mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s happening as it is happening. When you become aware of the workings of your mind, in the moment, you deliberately direct your awareness back into the now and focus your attitude there.

It alters your state of distractedness, inattention, and confusion to being more aware, present, focused and attentive. This helps you to react less to emotional or situational impulses or when things don’t turn out as you expected.

Instead of automatically falling into the stream of past or future that ignites unhelpful emotions, one can draw their attention to their present moment. The more you are mindful, the more is your ability to improve your patterns of thinking. Purposefully concentrating on what’s happening, reduces negative mindset or the tendency to label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You reflect more on the mind to make conscious choices in a state of altered awareness.

Cultivating mindfulness habit into your everyday life

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.

” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

If you are interested in the development and evolution of your own consciousness, the most important thing is to cultivate awareness of your conscious self. By cultivating a habit of mindfulness in our daily activities, you can avoid knee-jerk reactions to your immediate responses and can respond more constructively, and without judgment.

Mindfulness isn’t necessarily limited to certain breathing practices or to focus your attention on certain objects. Neither it isn’t just about knowing that you are hearing, seeing or observing. It’s about doing so in a way that creates space for insight and has more to do with becoming self aware of your thoughts and emotions in the moment, and to take responsibility for your sense of self. By cultivating an objective sense of self you can avoid getting lost in the subjective drama of your ever-changing inner conscious experiences.

Making Mindfulness a way of life

Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

In everyday life we rarely pay full attention to anything. Since our conscious awareness is like a stream, it is constantly changing. The way your thoughts drift from one topic to another can feel effortless even when thoughts you are having are different. And we feel resistance inside of us when we try to be at peace with ourselves. The more we try, the more we become aware of our buzzing thoughts, or emotions. And resistance is born out of our very effort to be peaceful.

Mindfulness on the other is based on the very foundation that we are innately whole, that our emotions and thoughts are messengers, and that awareness is the key. But the most fundamental thing underlying it is that of your ability to accept and respond to your every experience, as opposed to engaging in a reactive or dismissive attitude.

Being open to your experiences in the moment enables you to step back and get a proper perspective on the situation you are in. As a result, you not only stay connected to your experience, but also identify yourself as something more than your experience. This enables you to accept the feel yourself as the spacious openness of conscious awareness.

However, a peaceful mind does not mean a mind devoid of thoughts, sensations and emotions. When we begin to be mindful, we think we must suppress all thoughts and feelings. Concentrating on breath or an object should not done for suppression of whatever is arising in your conscious awareness. Because suppression only leads to avoidance or denial. Instead when you accept, observe and follow what arises in the light of awareness, it leads to enlightenment of your true self.

Mindfulness & State of well-being

Training your mind to be in the present moment is the number one key to making healthier choices.

Susan Albers

Everyday distractions can keep you from experiencing the joy of simply being— a state of body and mind in which you feel whole, grounded and deeply connected to yourself.

State of well-being can be achieved by a regular practice of meditation. And this can be done in different ways. Insight meditation is where you observe thoughts and emotions or sensations that arise in your awareness without judgment or expectation. This increases your focus and helps you maintain your physical as well as mental well-being.

Then there is zen meditation which says you must have a very quiet mind. It involves disciplining oneself, being aware of every moment or developing present moment awareness. Yoga is a form of meditation where you join together the mind, the body and the higher self. But no matter what system you follow, or you go from one to another, freedom is essential as it is the intrinsic nature of the mind. Once you see the truth with your own light of awareness, you will be able to go beyond perception and be available to your moment.

Mindfulness helps in shifting your perspective

Our thoughts are invisible, yet they have power to influence how we perceive the work around us. We experience negative and positive thoughts. They either make you feel you are capable of great things, or they might make you feel you aren’t good enough or helpless at times. Whether it’s thinking that you are capable or that you are helpless, thoughts get their power from our body’s reaction to them. So, when you bring your thoughts into your conscious awareness, you develop an ability to change them or shift your perspective, so your body responds accordingly. It can change your perspective to more positive and more connected to the world around you.

To-do;

Do not limit your mindfulness practices just to few breathing sessions. Extend them to other areas of your life, like for instance, hobbies and activities that you enjoy can be forms of meditation. When you become engrossed in an activity, you find your flow and in a way, you are doing light meditation. Indulging in your creative pursuits can be a great way to be present and mindful.

Slow down when you are doing your daily chores. For instance, making conscious choices in choosing what to eat, chewing your food or eating mindfully, being present to your surroundings when you are walking, or staying aware of your body sensations while experiencing stress etc., can help you tap into feelings of peace and joy.

Practice deep breathing techniques. Instead of taking short rapid breaths, practice abdominal breathing. Slowing down and becoming conscious of your inhalations and exhalations calms you further and increases your energy.

Welcome emotions and thoughts that are present, without trying to suppress or judge. No matter how uncomfortable your emotions may make you feel, remind yourself that they are temporary. Treat emotions as messengers and welcome your experience just as it is instead of negating or denying.

Nourish your intention to be more in being in your conscious awareness. Be patient with yourself and build your mindfulness practice everyday, a little and often. Experiencing your wholeness enables you to recover a sense of unchanging and ever present peace and well-being.

“Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

Thich Nhát Hanh

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