It might seem the holy grail to many of us, the ability to drop negative feelings at will. Believe it or not but it can be done, although for many of us too it can be after some effort, and not always healthily. Mindfulness offers a very healthy alternative and the benefit comes with knowledge and practice.
Do you find that negative feelings can hang around for ages, like you’re hooked on them? We can struggle to let go of anger, upset or sadness. They can pollute our life and interrupt our enjoyment. They can affect the choices we make and even the directions we take. They can get locked into patterns, becoming knee-jerk responses to things that occur.
If we do make an effort to deal with them, it can have the effect of suppression, and can still remain in our body and cause sickness and muscle tension. It can leak out sideways later, causing us and others surprise. It can get projected on to others, so that it seems like others have what we seek to deny. It can erupt later, causing far more collateral damage. One example I often see is where people start laughing for it to shift to crying, the tears being in the background or underground. We can of course totally deny our feelings and become disconnected from vital aspects of life, as many do.
With a mindfulness approach, there is still an effort of will needed, but it has a very healthy result. What we do is learn with knowledge and practice to be the witness of such experiences and to gently and non-judgementally feel the feeling while letting go of the thoughts. There are techniques one can use to heal negative feelings, and their associated thoughts. By being mindful we are not caught up in the cycle of thought and feeling, but the witness or observer of them. We learn to approach such “negativity”, and now I use inverted commas, with loving kindness, respect, compassion, gentleness, non-judgementally and with acceptance. Thus the very word “negative”, which can suggest a value judgement, becomes a phenomenon to observe, to be aware of, but not caught up in.
Thus we can learn to dissolve the feeling and experience peace.
The practice of mindfulness, used with knowledge and understanding, teaches us to step back from such phenomena and be aware of them. They are not who we are. Therein lies great freedom.
You can learn more about this transformative ability on our programs, starting with our one-day event on 8 March 2014 and developed in much more detail and taken further on our retreat in southern France on 21-28 June 2014.