Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dealing with negative emotions and events with mindfulness

Why is mindfulness important? It can help you from making all the wrong decisions in life that you will later on regret. It can help you feel better instantly if you're experiencing negative emotions. It can help you better understand your inner self for you to do inner work and self-development and become a better person.

My biggest take-away from my journey of self-development thus far is not only learning about mindfulness but being able to practice it when it is most useful.

Mindfulness is being aware about everything that happens, especially internally in your psyche and your emotions, as they are happening to you, while remaining neutral and non-judgmental. It is a higher state of consciousness where you learn to be in control instead of simply reacting to everything that happens as your body presents you with emotions and thoughts.

Mindfulness is much like taking a step out of yourself at any given moment, bringing nothing with you - no emotion, no thought, no past, no future. From there you will observe yourself being and remaining non-judgmental as a neutral third party. You will be able to see how your emotions are affecting you, acknowledging that any negative feelings are just emotions - they will pass - and so too will the positive ones. You will be able to observe how all your thoughts, opinions and perceptions on everything in life are all affected by your emotions and ego thus are not true and vice versa.

First let us recognize that there are different levels of consciousness. At the lowest level, we are only conscious of our physicality. We operate using only our 5 senses. Thankfully, humans do not operate at this level or we would be zombies. We all operate at least a level above where we live in our thoughts and emotions. In fact, most people believe they are their thoughts - that voice in their own heads. Which isn't true but that's for another topic.

There is a higher level of consciousness above that and mindfulness is the tool and act of achieving it. Your thoughts and emotions are not reality. Reality would be the highest state of consciousness one can achieve. You see, reality is what is happening out there. Your perception of reality is never reality - it processed through many layers before being interpreted.

What are the layers? There is a whole list of them and that would bring us too far off this topic. To help you understand this topic, here are some examples: The constraints of your(and the human race's) knowledge. That is to say we have not yet acquired everything there is to know about the universe and thus we interpret everything based on what we know but who knows how much is left out or misinterpreted. Then we have your ego that I spoke about in one of my previous posts. It acts as a filter and write its own script for you. Beyond that we have emotions, they interfere with our thoughts and how we perceive reality depending on our emotional status. Your thoughts are filters as well, a new thought will be affected by an old thought you might have. Your past experiences and yadayada. There's a whole list of filters that distorts reality but let's try to stay on track..

Mindfulness is when we rise above all of these layers. When we practice mindfulness, we are not removing the layers. Instead it becomes a choice after you have gain awareness over them, if you wish to change/remove any layer. Filters, like your emotions and thoughts, are still present when you practice mindfulness. You simply become aware of them without being judgmental.

For example: You were scolded by your boss at work today and on your way home you were caught in a terrible traffic jam. You go home and a family member is talking too much and you feel like exploding at him/her. Mindfulness is being aware that your agitation is not a reality and is not even justifiable based on the current situation. Instead, it is your emotions you went home with that is causing you to be easily agitated and makes you believe he/she is talking "too much" but in reality, they are just talking. You recognize it without judging yourself, and give yourself the opportunity to make an informed decision on how you wish to react instead of simply exploding and regretting later on.

It is almost like a buffer between emotional surge and reaction. Mindfulness can also be used to deal with negative emotions itself rather than just the reaction. First let us understand how negative emotions work. Usually we have a trigger - it could be anything, from a thought to a sight, a smell, or anything we dislike. This trigger will cause a negative response in our emotional system. This negative emotion now feeds into our thoughts and distorts reality as mentioned before. Thus making us perceive reality negatively and start having negative thoughts that feed back into our emotional system and its a vicious cycle and a downward spiral to feeling like shit.

With mindfulness, we would be able to recognize our negative emotion and through consciousness, put a stop to the destructive pattern we have found ourselves in before it escalates and we find ourselves in our shit hole.

Knowing what mindfulness is can be very helpful but sometimes, when the negative event/emotion comes, all these concepts go flying out the window. The only way to become a master of mindfulness is to cultivate it.

Firstly, understand it fully. I hope I have done a good job describing it but find out more on it. I have read multiple books and hours and hours of videos on mindfulness I don't believe I could have just summarized everything in one short post. Next, practice it. Don't wait till you need it then wished it was there when it's too late. Mindfulness can be practiced at any given moment(and you should too, it opens your eyes to a new world of understanding yourself). Practice it when you're happy, when you're watching a movie, when you're having a conversation you enjoy and dislike, etc. And finally, meditation.

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