Family gatherings, like Thanksgiving, are beautiful times to hone and deepen spiritual practice.
When you’re off the meditation cushion, seated at the dinner table, listening to Uncle Milton explain how there’s no such thing as global warming . . .
It’s the perfect time to breeeeaaaatttttthhhhhheeeeee and remember this: When you’re upset and you think, “I’ll just say this one thing,” . . . don’t.
There is no such thing as just one thing.
Imagine that you’re in front of someone who triggers you . . .
They’re talking in that tone of voice and using those words that are like the match to your emotional dynamite. The impulse to speak rises. You breathe and let it go. Then you hear these words float through your mind “I’ll just say this one thing . . . “
It’s a delusion.
There’s no one thing. Thought/emotions don’t come in single servings; they arise in bunches—like grapes.
Pick up just one thought/emotion and an entire bunch of associated thoughts/emotions come with it.
It can feel like you have to say that one thing.
There’s a lot of emotional pressure. The emotional fantasy is that saying this one thing will bring a sense of emotional closure. If you believe and react to the first triggered thought/emotion, the rest are already smoking and about to ignite. What happens when you say your one thing?
You’ve externalized your emotional state.
You’ve converted an inner state of reactivity into an outer event. Now, the other person – who was probably already triggered —is further ignited.
Your one thing can, in the blink of an eye, turn into a night, weekend, or week of hard feelings and unhappiness.
Emotions have the quality of having tremendous immediacy and also tremendous impermanence.
You can check this out for yourself. Stop right now and ask yourself: “How am I feeling?” Whatever you answer, one thing is certain. In a few minutes, 10 at most, you will be feeling differently.
Emotions aren’t bad or good.
They’re like weather patterns in Chicago . . . or Ireland. Variable. So, rather than initiate conversation from emotion, pause. Become aware of the texture of the emotion in your body.
What are the sensations associated with that emotion? Where do they reside in the body? Shoulder? Stomach? How are they moving? Quickly? Slowly? Be aware of the pattern of sensations associated with the thought/emotion.
As you remain aware of the sensations also become aware of your breath.
Breathe in and out comfortably. Allow the breath to follow a relaxed, natural, and steady rhythm . . . as you remain aware of the emotional sensations.
In time (usually a short time) you will feel the emotional weather changing.
This change occurs naturally. You do not have to involve others. Neither do you have to repress anything.
Through awareness and breathing, you create an inner environment that allows the emotion to change on its own.
Grounded in this awake and balanced attitude it is easier to see the situation in a new way, i.e. without the filter of reactivity.
Again, this vision arises naturally. It’s not something you have to think up. It’s uncontrived and infused with awareness. Residing in this awareness you can act in ways that produce more happiness for yourself and others.
Even Uncle Milton.
What’s the difference between repressing emotions and transforming them?
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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