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Mindfulness of Feelings – A Kaleidoscope of Emotion

Keeping an open heart sounds easy but the truth is it is one of the most challenging aspects of being human that we will ever experience. The real question is: How brave is your heart? How much are you able to hold when it's in conflict with what you believe you want? For example… after a loss, whether that be of a job, friend, relationship, family member or home, how much are you able to allow every single feeling to bubble up and have some airtime? The place where most of us go is into lockdown. When we feel sad or betrayed, redundant and unworthy our natural response is to shut down. It feels 'safer' to close off a piece of our heart and Just Get On With It. But what happens when we do that is that we lose a piece of ourselves. Our hearts are not designed to be closed off. The heart longs to be cracked open again and again. The irony being, that's one of the most challenging things to do. Opening our hearts can feel the same as breaking our own heart and that's something we've learned to shut down and run from. Stepping off a plane into the land of Heart Break where feelings are overwhelming and nothing makes any sense is not a ticket many of us want to buy. Even during Covid. The art therefore is learning how to feel our feelings long enough so that they no longer feel Too Big. Just like learning to lift heavier weights at the gym, the open heart must be flexed in order to strengthen. And how do we do that? Through Mindfulness of Feelings. Mindfulness of Feelings is where we allow the body to speak. It's very different to thinking our feelings. There is no rumination, no need for understanding, simply an observational non-attached witnessing. The chest feels tight. The hands feel clammy. The belly is in knots. We feel sick. Hungry but nauseous. There's a clacking or clinging sensation hooked under the solar plexus. Our feet are cold. The chest speaks again. The heart is clenched and still. No longer vibrating with joy, more of a sensation of lack or emptiness. And it all feels painful. These are not structured episodes and the feelings I've listed are not necessarily what will be going on for you. They are simply examples of sensations which are vastly different to 'feelings that we think'. When we think our feelings we will be trying to understand 'Why?', we'll find ourselves flicking through the back catalogue of experiences, trying to piece it all together, seeking to gain some ground … pushing away uncertainty in favour of 'I know.' 'I know' is our safe place. Certainty provides us with a gravy that tastes just like Mumma used to make. But unfortunately, it is that very same gravy that has taken away our ability to feel rather than understand. There's nothing wrong with wanting to understand. It's a natural part of the process. But Mindfulness of Feelings takes us deeper into the truth. It allows us to Bear Witness. Initially it feels painful. There is no mind to make sense of it all, we find ourselves swimming in deep water. With sharks and monsters in the depths below. At least that how it feels. But if we stay and learn to tread water, something happens. Over time, those feelings that used to send us into a panic, don't have the same effect. We've flexed our open heart long enough to know them. 'Oh, it's just a loneliness shark,' we might say. Or, 'Hello grief and sadness, I wondered when you'd visit again.' Negative feelings can be better braved when we sink into their depths. By starting with the sensations in the body and staying there, as opposed to using the mind to tell us yet another story, we begin to create a raft that keeps us afloat. Our love becomes more buoyant. We begin to see that we contain a kaleidoscope of feelings and that actually, we have the capacity to hold multiple realities all at once. We no longer need to close off our hearts in order to feel safe. We have learned to trust ourselves in a new and unique way that has room for everything. We come to know that we can be sad + happy, feel loveable + unloveable, confused + at peace, all in the same breath. The soup of Life is no longer just Tomato, it's more like a rich and fragrant Tom Yum Gong, packed with spices and flavours that are sweet, sour, salty and bitter all in one mouthful. The heart has the capacity to hold it all. The challenge therefore is to know how and to be willing to tread water in the open ocean of Life long enough to learn how to swim. And when we do, the shoreline of safety no longer feels so far away. 🌸🕊🌸 h x

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