Developing a heartfelt connection with our experience increases joy and compassion. It can lead to a reliable sense of contentment and well-being. Skillfully getting to the heart of the matter increases emotional intelligence and confidence. It can also be a painful and challenging process and for that, involving a trained support system such as in mindfulness, neuroscience or both is highly recommended.
Establishing a practice that settles the body and mind is essential. Deep relaxation and breathing, somatic psychology and meditation are a few options. The next step is to connect with a personal and specific intention such as “I wish to understand what is happening for me when I am yelling at my wife”. This is not a psychoanalytic route. Yes, there are important factors that led to how we feel right in this moment, however they are countless in number and not helpful to ponder because: 1. it is not what is actually happening 2. memory recall is subject to significant mental bias. Should you go down memory lane and you don’t have fundamental skills to deal with what is happening right now, how will you be equipped to manage something that is subject to mental bias?
All the material you need is right before you.. and further from fabrication once you settle down. From this perspective, if you pay close attention, you will likely notice a host of core human experiences to learn from and apply to a limitless scope of possible outcomes. Spending precious time on past or future events effectively creates an attractive loop of emotional vomiting or false expectations, producing temporal relief or limited satisfaction. This type of stress cycle such as thought patterns of regret or anticipation is known to be addictive. With practice, we can instead build strength and skill in raising awareness and with guidance apply proven methods toward healthy results.
Once the body and mind are settled and intention is identified, the next step to going deeper is by starting most superficially. What is the story you tell yourself about the experience at hand? Keep it short. With the story-line conjured up, ask yourself if there is a belief or an expectation driving the thoughts, speech or behavior? Maybe it is something like “I should be spoken to with respect.” Now as you focus on this imperative statement, immediately bring the mind and the palm of one hand to the part of the body where you feel sensation the most. Can you describe the emotional experience? “I feel frustrated when I’m not respected by my wife.” Next drop the subject and object in the description and report back, shifting your hand if needed over the body to where the most sensation is detected. Amend the statement, for example: “feeling frustrated when not respected” Take out the context and simplify to the action phrase: “feeling frustrated” and then just note the progressive action "feeling". Excellent, you are beginning to tune in! Stay with it. Shift the hand if needed and breathe long and deep as if into that space of action. Place the hand lovingly over the area of sensation, breathe deep and long knowing you are taking care of yourself and bravely showing up for the experience. Drop all labels. Feel the heart of what is happening free of judgment!
Should you become distracted, plan to return with kindness to the instructions. Practice this daily and as confidence builds until the dialogue and labels are no longer necessary to remove story and relate to what is happening. Establishing a meaningful connection seems easier. This is embodied presence. Grace and wisdom follow freeing us from the blah, blah, blah that keeps us stuck. It gets us to the heart of what matters most, cleaning up perspective and illuminating potential.