How to deal with our emotions in these uncertain times?

In these anomalous times, we are plagued with several fears. We do not know what will happen to us and our loved ones. We do not know if the world as we know it will be changed forever. We do not know if our jobs, our lives and our relationships are are stake. This fear of the unknown, this uncertainty can severely impair us and impact all of us. Already I see a sense of gloom spread all over society and even inside our own homes. Tension builds up over time within each one of us and it we use the limited people around us to expel the negativity within us. This pandemic is not only killing people, but can also kill our spirits and our relationships.

How then can we root out these fears? What do we do when emotions well up within us? I use a six step ancient technique that has been of tremendous use to me. I hope it helps you too.

  1. Recognize the emotion coming up within you: This is usually associated with strong, uneasy physical sensations in the throat or the chest or the navel region. This is why they are called ‘feelings’ – you actually feel them. The first step is awareness of the emotion. If we aren’t aware of what is happening within us, there is no way we can begin to address the situation. What we usually do when these uneasy emotions arise, is to distract ourselves or yell it out against people we are close to. Both don’t help us break the cycle. Avoiding us only means we postpone it and then when it does come out, it comes out like a volcano. Yelling at someone takes the focus away from us to them, which doesn’t help. So, lets first recognize that we have a problem. Empathize with yourself. This is the key – Empathize. Its okay. We are imperfect humans. Then what?
  2. Look at the thought that causes the emotion: Try to assign a thought to that strong sensation. “I am afraid I will be ill” or “I am angry at this” or “Why does he do this to me?” . Verbalizing the sensation helps limiting the scope of the problem. It is like this. Sometimes when our car tyre is punctured and we take the wheel to the mechanic, he first immerses it into a tub of water to identify the leak. At the point of the incision, air bubbles start to rise up and we go “Ah! here it is!” . This is the “Aha” moment that we are looking for when we narrow down the sensation to a thought.
  3. Be with that thought 100%: Don’t judge. We don’t need to solve any problem. Just be with it. Think of the thought as a petulant child that is craving for your attention. Give it what it needs. Love and attention. Don’t fight it, don’t run away from it. Just let it be for the few moment.
  4. Close your eyes and breathe : An easy way to come out of thought is to take your attention on to the breath. Close your eyes, be with the thought and then gently shift the focus to your breath. Notice the breath coming in through the tip of the nostril and then leaving it out. Observe the feeble sensation it creates around your nostrils.
  5. Direct your Attention to the sensation with the breath: This is the key step. As you breathe with your eyes closed, take your attention to the spot where you feel the sensation i.e. the tummy or the chest – wherever it is. Imagine you are directing the breath to that spot. Feel it flowing to the location where you feel uneasy. And be with that flow. You may observe certain movements in the body or feel something inside that spot, like a shake or a shiver. This is good. this indicates that the energy blocks in the body are getting cleared. You should immediately notice that you already start feeling a little better.
  6. Reaffirm your intention: Another crucial step. What do you want? Ask yourself this? Do you want to be sick or do you want to be healthy and happy? Do you want your relationship to be blissful or do you want it to be tough? Nearly everyone of us will choose the former. Yet, we suffer. This step helps us clarify our intention to ourselves. We want to be healthy. We want to be happy. We want to be free. Clarify your intentions. It is a choice we are making. It is not the outcome. We can never know what will happen to us. But we have the freedom to choose what we want. And this is powerful. Our intentions, influence our thoughts, which influence our actions, which influences outcomes

These six steps can help us achieve equanimity in life, help us better handle our emotions. Our feelings are created by unconscious and conscious thought patterns. And we cannot handle thoughts with more thoughts. Reason fails when people are emotional. Therefore we need to go one step deeper – to the level of our energy system to tackle this. Using the breath to remove those blocks, can help clarify the feeling, which in turn clarifies our thought. With regular practice you should start to notice that the things that bothered you earlier do not bother you so much anymore. The grip of the thought reduces gradually. And this is the path to freedom.

Stay safe and be free.

Tughlakabad. Delhi. 2011/12.

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