Mindful HabitsTour Post:The Gift In Knowing Our Feelings

This post is part of the Mindful Habits Blog Tour, a virtual “tour” where 13 women post on 14 different days about the power of habit for running a business, being healthy, and getting creative. The Tour is run by Sarah Hawkins of True North Business Management. Check out the full lineup of women posting as part of the tour here.

You're at work, it's Wednesday and you're back aches.  Day after day you come to this desk and do what needs to be done.  Some days you feel pretty good about it and others not so much. There are people that you connect with that totally light you up and there are those that challenge you constantly.  Total triggers for you.  You read their words via email or overhear them and you can just feel yourself welling up with thoughts and feelings.  

You're in your head a lot.  You're busy but when you really focus in there's this undercurrent of commentary and drama and thoughts and feelings and they're all buzzing around.  The day in and day out of all the demands of life is exhausting but even more exhausting is the internal experience you are having.

It's easier to stay distracted and engaged sometimes than to probe into the deep well inside.

Well today, I invite you to probe inside just a bit and find out what is really happening in you. Beyond the distractions of what you should be doing and what everyone else is doing and the what if's, overwhelm and general busyness of life.

I invite you to experience this little probe in order to ease your way through this day and maybe some other days too.

So, what are you feeling RIGHT now?  What happens for you when you read that question?  Do you blow it off?  Do you feel annoyed?  Do you have absolutely no clue?

Generally one of two responses come up for people:

#1:  They have this automatic response that says, I always either feel happy, sad or pissed so I must feel one of those.  Why does this even matter anyways?

#2  There is no space for my feelings anyways.  I keep them locked up so that they don't come out too big or loud or needy or confusing or complicate things.  

I get it.  I'm constantly learning more about my feelings and working to allow each one of them as a visitor who is passing through.  Here to teach me, show me something, speak through me, speak for me at times but always passing through and changing.

When we don't know what we are feeling, it is easy to ignore ourselves. When we ignore ourselves it is so easy to get to the point of overwhelm where instead of being able to accomplish the little things right in front of us, we can't accomplish anything.  

I see this with my clients all the time. When they slow down and bring mindful attention and allowance into what is truly going on for them, into what they are truly feeling, they can suddenly take a new vantage point, have some extra empathy, find spaciousness, move forward where they were formerly stuck.

As I work with women who put their all into their work, their relationships, their families and everything and everyone but themselves, I've learned some ways that women neglect their own feelings.  Here are some ways to bring mindfulness into the situation in order to change it.

#1:   Set a timer on your phone to go off five times throughout the day.  8 am, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm, 4pm, 7:30pm.  At each one of these times, pause and ask yourself the simple question of "What am I feeling right now?"  By beginning the mindful process of knowing where you are at in any given moment, you become more intimate with yourself, more engaged.    You're working from a place of having a choice on how to move forward not being on automatic.

#2:  When you answer the above question avoid the words happy, sad or pissed.  By expanding your emotional vocabulary, you expand the range of emotions that are possible for you to have.  When we allow ourselves the full range of emotions that are possible we open ourselves up for more joy.  When we damp down on our pain and expect to only feel joy, joy gets damped down too.

#3:  When you find out what you are feeling when the timer goes off, practice allowing.  The more we allow each and every feeling that is vying for a voice in us, the faster each one passes making way for the next.  Greet it lightly like an old friend who's come to visit for the moment.  Say something like, "Hey annoyance, you're here for a couple of minutes.  I see you and feel you right now."

#4:  Ride the waves.  When you come into mindfulness of how you are feeling, you will see that each and every time you do your check-ins you will find varying degrees and tones of emotions.  Ride the wave of each one knowing that none stick around for long.  By feeling the natural ebb and flow of your emotional body, you allow the natural flow of your entire self which brings health, presence and spaciousness to your life.

So often we sweep our emotions under the rug in order to stay strong or stay focused or stay in control.  We stuff them down until they demand our attention.  When we're not comfortable with our own emotions, we are often not comfortable with the emotions of those around us.  By taking the time to do this practice, we become closer with ourselves and more able to connect honestly and safely with all those around us.

I truly hope you have gotten some useful ideas on today's stop of the tour.   If you’d like to continue the conversation on mindfulness of your feelings throughout the day, please join me and the other Tour Guides in the private Facebook community.  Learn more about the Tour, and meet the 12 other Mindful Habits Tour Guides here.

In case you missed it, you can check out yesterday’s post from Brenda Errichiello, creative collaborator, editor, and writing coach. In it, she explores how to use ritual as part of your writing process.

And you can come by tomorrow when the post from Moira Kowalczyk, Integrative Occupational Therapist goes live. She’ll expand the definition of mindfulness as outlined and explained over 2600 years ago by the Buddha.