Checking the news today is the antithesis of the word “serenity”. Add in: work demands, bills, living in close quarters with other people. You get the picture. Being human sometimes sucks. It does. And that’s okay. It is also wonderful. Here’s how to find your why.
First, Open Your Heart
This isn’t a command. This is a possibility. Often the most simple method is the most elusive. The way to open your heart is through your breath. Stick around, we’ll be covering plenty about meditation, but for now do this:
- Begin by noticing your breathing. It may be fast. It may be slow. It may be loud. It may be quiet. However it occurs, it is okay. Just pay attention to it. Be curious about it.
- Notice if you can feel where you breath is coming in and/or flowing out. Can you feel the air flowing through your nostrils? Can you feel your breath hitting the top of your lip?
- Try counting. Breath in, breath out, “one”. Breath in, breath out, “two”. Just pay attention to your breath. If your mind wanders, that’s okay. Bring your count back to one and begin again, solely concentrating on your breath. See if you can make it to “five”.
As you mind focuses, it begins to strengthen. But there is another benefit: your heart begins to open. Somehow, by focusing inward, your heart opens outward!
One thing you can always afford: paying attention.
We live in tough times. Emotions hurt. I’ve said before thoughts aren’t real (they pass; they fade), but the emotions we feel ARE real. Science has proven how those emotions we attribute as positive (love, laughter, happiness) contribute to better health; emotions we attribute as negative (hatred, fear, shame) lead to inflammation and ill health. So what do we do?
We covered before about facing the emotions and naming them. This concept is reiterated by Tim Desmond in an article he wrote that was posted on Mindful.org. Tim knows how life can be overwhelming: a difficult childhood, political organizing, and losing his wife to cancer. He wrote about the power of living with emotions and staying present in his book How to Stay Human in a F*cked-Up World.
Once you’ve identified your emotions, you can start by digging what is underneath. As Mr. Desmond says in his article, look into the clues of your actions. Are you criticizing or making demands in your human interactions? He recommends looking at your motive. Perhaps there is an underlying need for self-care or self-compassion.
Then, check in with yourself: What need is underneath this? What’s my deepest motivation? – Tim Desmond
By taking your time to pause (yes, it is ALWAYS okay to pause), identify and name your emotions, and then looking under the hood, you will go a long way into finding the kink that needs worked out in your system.