Like most, I have a handful of emotions I favor and a few I would rather avoid. Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose which feelings bubble up to the surface. I grew up in a typical Mexican family where emotions were scarcely discussed but where the line between good and bad emotions was clearly drawn. Even after earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and learning that the notion of good and bad emotions was erroneous, I still found it difficult dealing with those pesky negative feelings that would linger and taint my experiences. After COVID19 crippled the nation and we were forced to shelter in place I found myself experiencing a mild case of anxiety that would manifest itself by igniting my tendency to dwell in obsessive thought.
My first impulse was to find a therapist to help me sort out my feelings and resolve my inner turmoil. However, with the shelter-in-place orders and the limitations of remote therapy, I quickly decided against that option. I eventually landed on the practice of meditation, something I had tried in the past but always failed to follow through. It is important to note that I was not in the throes of a traumatic event, I was not dealing with a severe emotional or psychological episode, nor was I in need of medical assistance as a result of being in distress. Those situations would have called for professional assistance either from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a medical professional. What I was experiencing was more like dealing with a pesky gnat flying around me in the middle of the summer while I sweat profusely. My life and well-being weren’t in danger, but it was annoying as hell!
I decided to download an app in the hopes that it would help me overcome the usual frustration I feel when trying to meditate on my own. As someone who suffers from ‘little’ OCD, a phrase uttered by my previous therapist, I find it difficult to be completely devoid of thought. I completed the free trial and felt motivated to pay the money for the full version, which granted me access to a wealth of meditation videos and exercises. What I found was a slow and steady stream of minor revelations that when compiled together, allowed me to take back control and process the negative emotions I so desperately wanted to resolve. I have a lot to learn and much more to practice, but this is what I have learned so far in the two months I’ve meditated:
Your mind will wander
The key to meditation is to redirect your thought back to meditation every time it wanders. Learning to do so has strengthened my skills and made me feel proud of my progression. That small but consequential achievement helps redirect my anxiety towards the more enjoyable emotion of pride.
You must acknowledge your emotions, even the icky ones
This one is tough since I took up meditation in order to step OVER those pesky feelings. It turns out you can’t do that. You have to recognize them in order to overcome them. Ugh!
Take inventory of your emotions as they arise
This actually helps me A LOT – even with the pesky ones.
- It allows me to approach my emotions from a logical perspective. This practice refocuses my attention from wallowing in my feelings to exploring those feelings and taking notes. Like a researcher of sorts.
- That prevents me from running wild down an emotional rabbit hole, and cut my ‘little’ OCD at the knees.
- It humanizes me…to myself. It sounds strange but whenever I feel an icky emotion, like anxiety, I feel like I am being weak and feeble for allowing that emotion to take over. Now, I am able to acknowledge the emotion, take note of it, and move on while shortening the feeling’s life span. It’s as if I am acknowledging someone else’s emotion and if you’re like me, I’m a lot kinder to others’ feelings than I am to my own .
Meditation is empowering
The practice has equipped me with valuable tools to better cope with and understand my emotions. I now have a mechanism that fosters self-understanding and acceptance, and that is powerful!
I will continue to meditate and enhance my meditative skills. This practice has empowered me and freed me from the pit of self-wallow. This doesn’t mean I won’t ever experience an uncomfortable emotion or that I won’t have a ‘little’ OCD relapse, but it does mean that I now have a way out of the revolving ‘little’ OCD loop. I now have the ability to redirect my focus back to a healthy thought much like I redirect my mind back to meditation when my mind wanders.
App Used: Ten Percent Happier (Highly Recommended)