There is meaning in emotion.
Powerful feelings – anxiety to the edge of panic, anger to the limit of rage, and sadness to the depths of grief – can highjack our thoughts, shape our behaviour, harm our relationships and limit our capacity for joy.
They can also serve as alarms or gongs – signaling us to awaken and to attend to their cause.
In my approach to meditation as an essential daily health practice, I begin with the first of seven questions, “What am I feeling?”
My answer begins with the mantra, “Feel my breath.”
Breathing in, I expand my lungs and clear my head. Breathing out, I release all tension in my body. Breathing in relaxation. Breathing out tension. With each successive cycle of breathing in and breathing out, I become more relaxed and more at peace.
I note the still point between each inhalation and exhalation, and between exhalation and inhalation. It represents the still point in my own mind from which I perceive this present moment and what I am feeling – in my body and in my heart.
It is like viewing a candid snap shot in which is revealed the actions and expressions of the moment. They can be surprising, revealing and often unflattering.
What emotion are you feeling at this moment? If not joy or peace, can you name it? This is not always as easy as it sounds. Many are out of touch with their emotions and have little awareness of their underlying feelings, until they build up, percolate and explode through uncontrolled words and actions.
Sometimes irritability or grumpiness looks like anger but actually represents a deeper sense of sadness, frustration or depression. Are you feeling stressed, anxious or panicky?
Mindful meditative breathing is a metaphor for controlling your thoughts and emotions. In both cases, you are rendering an autonomous, automatic activity to a state under your conscious control. Moving your consciousness to the still point, you become aware of your emotions from a new perspective.
It is like viewing the turbulence on the surface of the water from the depth of a few feet below the waves. You can gain a new perspective without getting caught up in your own emotions.
From this stillpoint, reflect on the possible source of your emotional response. The cause could lie in (1) your physical state, (2) your thoughts, or (3) your relationships. Your emotional state could be transient like the weather or enduring like the climate, the latter being due to deep and significant source.
Next, I’ll explore how through meditation you can gain insights into the sources of your emotional states, and with these insights, assume greater control over your own thoughts and actions. Meditation can be the means of mastering your emotions and seizing each day.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician at PrimeCare Medical. His Healthwise column appears regularly in this paper and his internet radio show, Positive Potential Medicine can be heard on pwrnradio.com.