Emotions move in waves. While they are most often unbidden, it is meaningful to bring attention to this natural process. The next time you have a pronounced emotion come on, pause to see if you can sense a gradual, or sudden rise in the energy in your body and mind. Perhaps you can feel the sensations in your body intensify as your emotion comes on and moves to it’s peak. This part is most apparent and often uncomfortable. Just like a wave reaching it’s full height, so each emotion peaks in intensity before falling. As the energy of the emotion begins to fall and dissipate there is an opportunity. What do you notice? By observing the wave-like nature of emotions, we gain access to the inherent pause in the rhythm of every emotion. This process may increase our presence, and decrease the chances of becoming overwhelmed by what we feel. Simply by observing that pause, and watching the rise and fall of the energy and sensation of the emotion there is more space. We go from being the wave to observing the wave. This process slows down and helps to integrate the experience.
Integration is a key in the healing process. Observing and feeling emotions as they rise to the surface allows for healing and growth. Trying to ignore emotions by distracting ourselves, or swallowing them and pushing them down again eventually creates imbalance within the body and mind, and ultimately within our lives, we have all experienced this. All it takes is a moment to welcome the feeling we are having, giving it a small glance of approval or understanding. This can feel validating, and is a form of self-regulation.
While the drama, and the story behind the emotion is compelling, it is not helpful to dwell there. There is a wise old saying “what you attend to will grow”. Giving attention to the drama will intensify the emotions, and will not serve to resolve or dissipate the intensity of suffering. Rather, a short and sweet acknowledgement that the feeling itself is there has a calming effect on the whole system. Of course there are times when this practice is not enough, at which time it is recommended to connect with a therapist or friend, as we are social creatures, and oftentimes sharing our thoughts and feelings with another will be soothing.