After discussing how to understand mindfulness, we can move forward with how practicing mindfulness helps us cope with our emotions.
In addition, it important to consider the following three things.
Research on mindfulness confirms benefits which include:
- Reduced rumination (improves symptoms of depression and anxiety and helps to regulate intense emotion)
- Stress reduction
- Boosts to working memory
- Less emotional activity
- Relationship satisfaction
- Enhanced self-insight, morality, intuition and functions associated with the brain’s middle prefrontal lobe
Mindfulness is awareness. It is an intentional engagement in one’s own life.
Mindfulness is not being passive or non-emotional. It is not simply relaxing, or escaping reality. It also is not feeling or trying to hide from pain or trying to convince yourself to smile.
It is about paying attention, without judgment, while observing thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and actions. It is about feeling the good and the bad experiences of life. Rather than being overwhelmed or disconnected from them.
Considering the following differences, it is easy to notice that there is a relationship between the two, emotion and behavior. However, sometimes it can be difficult to disconnect the two. The relationship can be easier to disconnect when we focus on breathing or any other ‘anchoring’ tool which best works for you.
When I catch myself becoming disconnected, I often touch the feeling of the stones on my ring or focus on the sensation of my ring turning against my finger.
This focus to the present moment, without judgment, shifts our Emotional Mind to our Wise Mind.
The Wise Mind is the synthesis of the Logical Mind and the Emotional Mind.
In the Wise Mind we follow our deepest ambitions to determine the best outcomes for ourselves.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
I refer to Greek mythology and philosophy to help me understand what the Wise Mind is. Like Aristotle’s emphasis on the educated mind, another great example is the battle between Greek mythological characters Apollo and Dionysus. Apollonian is the symbol of logical thinking and reason. Dionysian is the opposite, representing emotions and irrational instincts. The key is to observe these two extreme deities and find a balance between the two.
The balance between the two; the integration of the Emotional and the Logical – is wisdom – “where a person knows something to be true or valid.”
The Wise Mind helps us understand what is important and how to decipher the difference between our emotions and behaviours.
Mindfulness to emotion is when you see a certain person you are angry with, and you notice your jaw is clenched tight, your body language is automatically uninviting when that person is in your presence.
Mindfulness to emotion is when you feel sad, you notice you feel alone and avoid the presence of others.
Mindfulness to emotion is when you feel shame, you notice when you see the person you feel you have disappointed, you immediately want to run from their presence.
Mindfulness to emotion allows us to be comfortable with those uncomfortable situations. It allows us to feel pain, the good or the bad, observe it and be okay with it.
The next post will focus on simple exercises to practice mindfulness.
*Notes from the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention & Recovery Program