Finding Peace in the Midst of a Storm

Nice piece on on some ways to cope with difficult feelings. Below I’ve excerpted the beginning. Follow the link for practical coping suggestions. Being with pain and noting our experience through mindfulness truly helps.

What do you do when you’re feeling anxious, depressed or stressed out? How do you treat yourself? Are you able to be compassionate towards your own emotional pain or do you engage in self criticism, judgment or blame?

For most of us, our initial reaction to pain is to look around for someone to blame, blame ourselves or ignore our suffering. As humans we avoid pain and seek pleasure. We either avoid pain by getting distracted: taking drugs, drinking, gambling, become workaholics, surf the internet, etc. Or we go to the other extreme, reacting towards the world and ourselves through judgment, blame or criticism. We dwell in reactive thinking (I’m always doing this wrong or he’s always doing it wrong!) which escalates our emotions. Pretty soon we’re on an emotional rollercoaster rolling from one emotion to the next and feeling totally out of control. Neither of these approaches help us respond to our pain. Instead it increases our suffering, intensifies painful emotions and keeps us stuck in a pattern of reactive behaviors that lead to feelings of inadequacy and disconnection….

…One of the most healing and compassionate approaches to pain that I’ve found is the practice of Mindfulness. The benefits of this practice are wonderful in that it helps us turn towards our suffering with a desire to heal and stay connected with ourselves, the world and others. Mindfulness is a practice that helps us stay in the present moment, becoming aware of what we’re feeling in our bodies, our hearts and learning to notice when we’re hooked into our stories or reactive thoughts. It’s a centering and grounding practice so that instead of creating stories, getting lost in negative thoughts, or reacting towards others out of our defenses we attune to our own pain in a loving way. go here for more

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