How to Let Go of Negative Emotions
When clients come into my office, they describe many types of problems. Yet, whatever their situation, they almost always complain that they feel stuck in feelings of anger, sadness, fear or hurt. In order to help my clients, I teach them something called the Sensation Meditation (SM). This meditation guides people to focus on their negative feelings in a specific manner.
By helping people fully feel their emotions without distraction, this meditation helps people move through “stuck” feelings into a place of healing. When people finish using this simple three minute technique, they frequently report that their negative feelings have vanished, and that their body feels relaxed, peaceful, and at ease.
The first step in doing the Sensation Meditation is to find a comfortable chair or couch, and proceed to take a couple of slow, deep breaths. Then, scan your body and notice the most uncomfortable feeling or sensation you feel. Focus on this area of your body, and feel exactly whatever is there. For example, if you’re annoyed you might notice a tightness in your chest and a warm feeling in your throat. If you’re worried, you may notice a tension in your forehead muscles and shoulder blades.
Ultimately, our emotions are experienced in our body as specific sensations such as warmth or coolness, tightness or relaxation, sharp or blunt, etc. As you notice uncomfortable sensations in your body, try to be aware of the resistance you have toward experiencing these uncomfortable feelings. Instead of avoiding or pushing away the discomfort you feel, simply allow the sensations to be there. Give yourself full permission to feel whatever is going on in the present moment.
As you tune into your present time sensations and let go of resisting whatever is there, you may notice that things start to change. Ironically, it is largely our resistance to feeling negative that allows uncomfortable feelings to stay stuck in our body. By letting go of your resistance and actually focusing on what you feel, the dam of stuck feelings will become like a moving river once again.
To help you tune into the present sensations of your body, it can help to focus on the following questions:
1. Where in my body do I feel the most uncomfortable feelings or sensations?
2. How big of an area in my body does the core of these uncomfortable sensations cover?
**3. **Is this area warmer or cooler than the rest of my body? How exactly does it feel different?
**4. **What about this sensation do I resist or find uncomfortable?
5. Can I let go of my resistance and allow the sensations to flow through?
6. What is something I could feel grateful for or look forward to in my life?
As you go through each of these, do your best to focus on what the question points to. For example, if you’re noticing how big of an area the sensations take, compare it to the size of a baseball, a basketball, or whatever seems appropriate. The more current you can be with the actual sensations in your body, the more quickly and easily stuck feelings will dissipate. As you focus on these various questions, imagine you are a scientist objectively noticing the exact moment to moment sensations in your body. By the time you reach question number six, you’ll probably feel rather relaxed. As you focus on what you feel grateful for or what you look forward to, allow yourself to be filled with the feeling of gratitude or excitement. Once you feel relaxed and positive, you can slowly open your eyes and enjoy your day.
While the Sensation Meditation is great for cutting through stuck feelings, it’s also an excellent tool for getting over minor upsets. If you feel a bit tense or annoyed, try taking three minutes to do this meditation. I think you’ll notice you’ll soon feel relaxed and at ease. With practice, you can even do a shorter version of this meditation. To do this, simply take a deep breath, notice the uncomfortable sensations in your body, and then relax and allow what you feel to fully be as it is. As you stay present with these sensations, you’ll soon observe that they change and, like a river, flow through you. If you do this method enough, you may even be able to do the whole process in under a minute. It can be a great way to love yourself.
The beauty of the Sensation Meditation is that it helps your feelings through a natural, organic process. Instead of trying to distract yourself from your feelings–which simply allows them to stay stuck–your feelings naturally become unstuck as you fully feel them. Although it can be hard to believe, it is our resistance to our feelings that allows negativity to stick around in our body. Even for major upsets, like the ending of a relationship or a death in the family, the Sensation Meditation can help you move through your grief at an accelerated rate.
To make this exercise easier to remember, you might want to write out the six questions from the meditation on a little note card. Another good thing to do is to record the meditation and then, when you need it, listen to it on your smartphone. To create your own guided Sensation Meditation, simply tell yourself to “focus on what feels uncomfortable in your body.” Wait a minute to give yourself time to feel what is there and fully welcome the sensations you feel. Then, read the six questions into your voice recorder, remembering to pause for about twenty seconds after each one. That’s all that’s needed.
Most people are secretly at war with their own feelings. Besides the obvious stress this creates, it also has a tendency to keep our bad feelings around for longer than they need to be. Fortunately, the Sensation Meditation can help you become friends with your feelings, your body, and yourself once again.
* Excerpted from “Find Happiness Now: 50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance and Joy Into Your Life”
10 Signs That You're a Free Spirit
When we think of the term, “free spirit,” we imagine a person who steers their own course in life, unencumbered by common burdens or concerns. Some look at those who identify as free spirits as being irresponsible or childish, though this mindset offers lessons to inform us how we can live life on our own terms.
If you’re someone who considers yourself an independent thinker or doer, who pushes against society’s envelope and is deeply committed to finding your own path, you may be a free spirit. Are you curious as to whether the free spirit path is for you?
Ten Signs You’re A Real Free Spirit
If you identify with any of these signs, chances are you have a free spirit waiting to be let loose into the world!
1. You’re Independent-Minded
Independent people thrive on listening to their own voices, regardless of the situation or circumstance. This key personality trait of the free spirit is a common one in innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative artists, as an independent streak also relies on a strong foundation and belief in oneself.
Are you the person in the room who always finds a new way of looking at things? Free spirits defy expectations and will always see the unexpected in equally unlikely ways. These kinds of thinkers can be great assets on a creative team, as they will always find a new way to look at an idea. Free spirits are also incredible advocates for innovation, as they are not afraid to stand up and for their ideas, no matter how much it veers from the rest of the crowd.
2. Fear Doesn’t Stop You
Dale Carnegie said, “Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” Free spirits feel fear, but they don’t allow that feeling to be something that stops them. Instead, a free spirit will work through the fear and let it serve as a motivating factor. In fact, most free spirits will tell you that any success is not worth having unless it’s achieved with a healthy dose of moving through fear.
3. You Have a Strong Spine.
While it can be said that free spirits go with the flow of life, they accomplish it with a healthy and strong sense of self. This translates into living with intention and purpose and one that is not defined by anyone else. A free spirit walks the talk and in many cases, creates the language that makes up the talk.
4. Free From Attachment
To live as a free spirit, one has to be willing to let go, or walk away from the things that might weigh others down such as conventional relationships, careers, and other traditional trappings of modern life.
You might find a free spirit selling their material goods and living in a van, or not staying tethered to one place for very long. Or perhaps a free spirit may choose to live simply with a commitment to not participating in consumerism. Minimalism is often a choice of free spirits as this lifestyle embodies freedom from many of the things that weigh us down. Free spirits enjoy their own company and thrive on solo time, and putting themselves first.