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How mindfulness can help change strong emotions

Firstly may I apologise for all the rain we've been having recently, it's not what we would have liked. Secondly, the political situation, sorry about that... I know it's difficult for many of us, what with the uncertainty and all. Thirdly, the cost of everything, shocking isn't it, wages just don't keep up with the cost of living.

I could go on... and on... and on but where would it get us? A rhetorical question I know but perhaps just pause and consider that very question, 'where does my thinking lead me?' and also 'what does it give me?'.

One simple answer is power. By this I mean feeling angry is a powerful emotion and like anything evocative it can also be addictive, so rather surprisingly, we like it, it makes us feel good.

However, like all addictive substances, the high of anger is transient, it doesn't last and like the rush of sugar, alcohol or any other drug of choice when it has passed, we are left feeling just as low, unsatisfied and empty as before. In many cases, we now feel more angry and frustrated because we don't have anything to be angry about and go looking for the next fix!

So what would happen if we decided to be observers of our own anger... to feel anger rising in the body, in the mouth ready to speak its name? To just 'be' with the anger, rather than feeling the urge, the craving to vent... would we explode? No, we would not. Would we squirm and feel the body tense. Yes, we would, at least at first but what's so terrible about that, compared to how we live in the constant wheel of feeding the same behaviours, causing the same pain?

Sitting with a powerful emotion, such as anger, in a mindful way offers another path, a new route through our suffering, just like it does with many other strong emotions. When we feel the urge to shout out, the instruction is to just stay with the feeling. When the body writhes and squirms, we stay. When our mind creates a million reasons to quit, just stay.

We live in a world of immediacy and easy emotional escape and so nine out of ten times we choose the easy path, this is understandable. However, if you wish to transform your suffering and change your habitual patterns, then some work is required but it doesn't have to be hard, it just requires a little faith.

Sitting with our suffering on our own can be hard. There are many groups that come together, secular or Buddhist mindfulness groups can be particularly supportive. 

I wish you well in your journey.

Warm wishes,

Gavin.

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