What am I thinking? What emotions are present? What’s going on in my body? These are our most fundamental questions, and yet, how often do we actually stop and consider them?
In Mindfulness Practice this is called The Triangle of Awareness, and its simplicity belies its potency. Most of us recognize in theory the differences between a physical sensation in the body, a thought, and an emotion...
I have a headache…I’m thinking about my job review…I’m worried.
But in actuality it can be quite challenging to separate thoughts, emotions, and sensations, because they interweave and feed upon each other. Which came first, the headache, the anxiety, or the thoughts about that upcoming review? And what about the compounding thoughts, the compounding emotions?
I’m embarrassed that I’m anxious; I’m too experienced to still feel this childish fear; I really don’t like my boss; I feel guilty that I don’t like him; but he doesn’t care about me; he’s not going to give me a raise; maybe I should quit; my neck hurts now, too; my whole body is a knot.
Plus, the sad truth is that we have been socially conditioned to override our self-looking, our self-knowing, as if we are being narcissistic in doing so.
I don’t have time for this! The review is in two hours, I’ve got to get my bullet points together!
Yet how we are, physically, emotionally, and mentally will radically inform our actions in that job review and every other aspect of our lives. Doesn’t it make sense to start each day by taking the time to look?
In Triangle of Awareness Practice, the goal is not only seeing, but sending kindness into our beleaguered minds and bodies, right where we are.
I’m angry and scared! My head is killing me, and I’m worried to death! There it is. That is the truth. I won’t pretend it isn’t true, and I won’t berate myself, tell myself to buck up. I will instead be gentle, be tender, be soothing. I will breathe and invite my body to let go as much as it can, forgive it for what tension it cannot yet release. I will embrace my messy humanity. I will remind myself that thoughts are fleeting, that I, the witness of my perceptions, have the power to choose different ones, that I’m learning how to do this, that I’m becoming more awake, more powerful, more likely to become my highest self, with every practice session. And I will invite another emotion, the greatest emotion, LOVE, to be present in the midst of all these unpleasant feelings, like a giant lamp lighting up a dark room.
This is a practice, not a pill. It won’t necessarily flow freely at first. It may be hard to even recognize what we’re feeling, thinking, or sensing, and when we do, it may feel as though the information brought to consciousness makes things worse, initially. We are all well-versed in the temporary benefits of denial and distraction, so the POWER OF NOW can also feel a little like the PAIN OF NOW. But I promise you, there is VALUE here. There is movement, fluidity, the pathway to where you want to go.
Blessings, dear friends.