Category Archives: Emotion

Naming Emotions

dog.jpg photo by prburzynski via flickr.com.
I used a mindfulness meditation tool recently to get me through some stress. I woke up at about 3 am unable to sleep, digesting events in life in a whirling swarm of emotions. I decided to name each emotion in a universal way as it came up. So it was with curious and open mind, non-judging, “oh, irritation”, “ok now, that is sadness”, “there is anger”, “oh, now hope”. And in between would come the story line which I would drop and look at the emotion, name it, the next storyline would immediately arise an emotion would become apparent, and on and on like that. And I became very curious about the fact that there were so many coming so fast and that they were so different. Looking at them consciously I had living testimony to the fact of their impermanence which took all the weight off of them. Ultimately the whole experience pretty quickly vanished and I fell back into a deep sleep until morning. I was so glad to have had the training, I can’t tell you.

The inspiration to find the help inside myself came because in the week before I had missed a lot of sleep from worrying about a house purchase until I realized, my own personal happiness and the happiness of those around me are far more important than any four walls. So I just kept repeating that and trying to recall that idea whenever I got stressed out and focusing on what is lost when sleep doesn’t happen. From that place I was more motivated to find a strategy.

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Cultivating Fearlessness

Part of that is coming to know your own fear, getting comfortable with that awareness. Gaining the habit of listening in…

You get used to the thoughts in your head after sitting quietly and listening to them. Since you aren’t left to wonder what might be there, that makes them less fearsome, we become fearless even just for a moment. Hey, I know what is in there…it would be like going around with your pockets full and you have no idea what is in them!

Trust that you can open to the present moment begins to build. From mindfulness comes inner strength and the development of trust. You get sure that the nature of things is for them to change, so you get less likely to hang on something, on some idea of how it should be or how it was or how it is even.

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Naming Emotions


by Marlon & Daniƫlle via flickr.com

In order to keep the awareness flowing, my meditation instructor is offering an excercise to the class where we name the emotion we are experiencing and then take it a step further and add an intention of loving or experiencing with a welcoming and open heart our having that emotion.

I had a funny experience with it recently where I said hey I am irritated, then I said yeh that is me, irritated, for a moment I loved the idea of me as a irritated person. Now that language is not the goal (and I do believe there is an element of learn the language, speak it, then you begin to experience where we want to go), so the language of I am this or I am that is problematic. First of all the one thing we know you are is constantly changing! So we may say “here is irritation” (drop the “I am…”), in the next moment if we watch not only the degree of that irritation will change, the irritation will completely vanish! It will, watch. It is weird. You are watching and then poof, hey did I just laugh? Or oh now I am crying, this is sadness, so now you say “this is sadness” not I am sad, I am a sad person, then I have ALWAYS been a sad person! Been there? Thought so.

Learning the language is tricky. It is important too. I have heard to use this language many times over the past few years and still it is tricky.

What is amazing about it is how it disaccosiates yourself from the emotion. Suddenly that is an outside passing experience, like a cloud. Do we attach ourselves to the clouds?

So the language is vital. My Ancient Greek professor once said, if you want to read Sappho you have to read it ancient Greek, the meaning is missed, is untranslatable for this text. He didn’t say that about Homer, Plato, Tolstoy, anyone else and he knew 15 languages. He said it about Sappho’s work (most of which is no longer with us). What little we have needs you to read it in the Greek. It is like this, we are not changing everything in our language, just the way we speak to ourselves about our experiencing an emotion. It is a habit.

This is boredom, this is anger, this is happiness, this is…what…tell yourself right in this moment what are you experiencing? Now the next, listen to how you tell it to yourself, notice it passing onto the next one…notice that? Experiencing the world in this way takes all the power away from the emotions, and it makes you less afraid of them when you see they pass.

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