One key principle I have found that’s key in terms of managing our emotions is by checking in to our current emotional states with a delicate sense of awareness…
By honestly checking in with the ongoing fluctuations of our emotional states and taking note, not engaging in dialogue, not fighting, not flying or becoming the state, just by simply noticing and being honest about what is – we bring back a gentle control.
Another way of looking at checking in is as state management. The management of your own ‘united’ states.
You see, your body is a wonderful communicator and throughout an average day it can tell you a great many things you probably don’t hear. This typically occurs when your mind is preoccupied with surface noise and the trickery of monkey-mind chatter.
‘What will it be for tea tonight, salad or frozen peas, will it be mushrooms, fried onion rings?’ We’ll have to wait and see…
Then the cogs of your ‘cognitive’ mind whir in a different direction as you worry about a catastrophe happening to your loved one, that never happens.
This presence of mind – awareness – is best approached subtly.
If you apply it over time you may just find that you have refurbished your inner communication system and the way you approach, appreciate the outside world.
It may even start to look visually different, brighter, clearer. No kidding!
By giving accepting the diverse nature of your emotional landscape you may soon find that you, strangely, become more at ease.
To do this, take on the role of an impartial observer. Watch, wait and calibrate as these precious sensations unfold and reveal the true message. Yes, you can watch close up. Let them pass. See what bubbles up or watch from a distance. Who knows, humour, light, or something resourceful might metamorphose?
It is central to every effective pattern and methodology I know.
The trick is not to latch onto uncomfortable emotions and let them consume you. Remember, you are a witness. So, just tune in, respect, watch and listen with a feather-like quality.
You see, often when we wake at morning times our body awareness is telling us something we obviously need to respect, but what do we do? We ignore it, closing ourselves off, we don’t listen, we rush off and solider through our day, week and years, carrying that feeling with us.
At this check-in point we could have placed gentle attention on the heavy or light feelings, the tightening or softening, the rough, smooth, hot or the cold feelings whilst telling our self soft statements such as these:
‘I recognise it as a feeling, that’s all’
‘I’m aware of a feeling, that’s it’
‘Although I recognise heavy, tight, or insecapable sensations, they have no affect.’
‘This feeling has a positive intention I may not be aware of yet.’
That’s all you do.
Everything in life is impermanent and all things come to pass…
With hindsight I am recognising now that this terminology has arisen from my time spent in Buddhist circles where I found great value in checking in at the start of a meditation session.
There was no emotional denial there, not like in western ideology where everything has to be ‘fantastic, marvelous, amazing,’ evening when you don’t feel it. Much better to work with what you’ve got and take it from there.
When I am checking in I maintain awareness by checking in to identify and accept. Typically I wait until the feelings pass or until some new awareness comes into the frame, but never push it.
At other times I may consciously work on relaxing certain areas of physical or mental pain, body, mind, brain, to evoke a full breath awareness, allowing the tension to drop of its own accord in order to get me there. Something positive and unexpected always pops up. Positive feelings, visions, insights that my conscious mind wouldn’t have accessed.
Group facilitation is another area where I have used checking in just before an icebreaker as a simple process of inquiry:
‘How are we feeling today?
How was your weekend?
‘Where are we at?’
This worked really well when cultivating emotional honesty with youth groups that included young refugee and migrant communities. Many times I heard statements such as, ‘I feel like sh*t’.
I so love it when people are down-to-earth with what’s really going down in their emotional hood, because it’s easier for a bunch of pressure cookers to let off steam in a friendly environment and to explore our present states from the standpoint of emotional honesty within communities of trust than fake it on our own.
I use this on myself and others before the start of a meditation practice.
Awareness such as this can form the basis for tremendous personal healing and transformation. Even just by sitting for prolonged periods with the uncomfortable states we can find new insight.
Checking in has become almost second nature now, but when I do forget, some days I have to stop, breathe, and ask myself a few fun questions about my internal state which fall in line with my humorous disposition based around HOW DO I FEEL?:
What’s the colour of my mood?
(Interesting this one. Is it currently blue, black, grey? If it’s dark and not feeling good I What is the complete opposite colour that I can bring into my life now that will generate a totally different response?)
P.M.A or P.M.T?
Positive Mental Attitude or Premenstrual Tension, (Pre-Mating Testis for Men!)
Speedy or steady?
Are my emotional feelings and thoughts moving too fast? If so, take stock and steady the ship before sailing into trouble.
Conservative or alternative?
The conservatism is the conscious mind’s ability to punitively focus on logic and hold us back. If I ‘m feeling alternative, then my creative unconscious is in a flow state of possibility, fun, and playfulness.
Constipated or motivated?
When things aren’t working and we are nervous and our emotions are stifled, we can become constipated, stuck in a static stress response of ‘neuro-muscular lock’.
Alternatively, when we feel motivated and free, all of our bodily functions expand, we feel lighter, as our unconscious perform effortlessly.
Tired or Inspired?
(Need I say more?)
Checking out now.
By the way, this is what you do just after you’ve completed a check in. And it’s usually conducted non-verbally as a review-like scan of your current state.
Blogging off now.
Go out, check IN!