Mindfulness and negative emotions

This article was originally published on MyYogaOnline.com under the title “3 Ways Mindfulness Can Help with Negative Emotions“. You can help me to build my profile at MyYogaOnline.com by reading this article there.

“What’s wrong with me?” is a question most of us tend to ask when we experience negative emotions. When we ask ourselves this question, we are perceiving our negative emotions as something “bad” or “wrong”. This perception prevents us from using negative emotions in a positive way; in a way that serves our personal growth. Being negative about negative emotions is my definition of suffering.

The rise of negative emotions in ourselves can be compared to a traffic light turning red: it is a message to us that we need to stop. If we believe that a red light in traffic is something “bad”, it means that we don’t fully understand and appreciate its usefulness. Just imagine the chaos that would result if we were all to choose to ignore the red light’s simple message to us.

In the same way, positive emotions can be compared to a traffic light turning green: it is a message that we need to keep moving on. It would lead to disaster if, alternatively we were to hit the brakes whenever we saw the traffic light turn green.

Instead of shooting the messenger (our negative emotions), I suggest practicing the following three steps when experiencing negativity:

1. Awareness: Become mindful of the present moment.
The foundation of yoga is awareness. Whatever it is that we are doing, if we are not doing it with awareness it is not true yoga. Awareness, in the context of experiencing negative emotions, means observing that we are experiencing negativity without getting dragged along by it. Emotions are a powerful force that can sweep us away, and if the emotions we are experiencing are stronger than our current ability to return to the present moment, we can practice these three steps at a later time when the mind has become calmer. We practice mindfulness by bringing back the memory of the event that triggered our negative emotion. By practicing at a later time, we can start to train ourselves to be mindful when experiencing strong emotions.

2. Contemplation: Coming to an understanding of the source of our negative emotions.
Contemplation means engaging in a pleasant self-dialogue. When I say this, I literally mean that we will need to have a conversation with ourselves. In this dialogue, we will assume the role of somebody who is listening to a friend in need. We ask questions when we don’t understand that friend; we don’t assume the role of somebody who is ready to give advice and judgments.

There are two important questions we should ask ourselves in this dialogue, they are: “what is it that I really need?” and “how can I give myself what I really need?” When we ask these questions to ourselves, we need to remember that yoga is the practice of non-attachment. One meaning of “non-attachment” is to be independent of anything or anyone outside of us for our happiness and fulfillment. If, for example, we hear as an answer to the first question “I need my boss to show me some respect and acknowledge my work”, it means that we are dependent on our boss for “respect” and “acknowledgment”. Instead, try saying “I need respect and acknowledgment”, and then, in answer to the second question, ask yourself: “how can I give myself the respect and acknowledgment I need?” The answer to such a question will come from within.

3. Practice: Readjusting our mind, actions and speech to the insights gained in the previous steps.
Practice means following the insights that we have gained through our contemplation. Not following these insights is like having a cookbook but never actually cooking any recipe from it. The recipe book soon only becomes a burden.

These three steps have been, and still are, helping me to gain a deeper understanding of myself. It is my hope that they can do the same for you.

本文原刊登於 MyYogaOnline.com ,原標題:為”以覺知面對負面情緒的三種方法“。透過以上連結閱讀,你可以幫助我建立在MyYogaOnline.com的知名度。

「我到底怎麼了?」當我們經歷負面情緒時,這往往是我們提出的問題。當我們如此提問時,我們視這些負面情緒為某種「不好的」或者「錯誤的」事情。這樣的看法使得我們無法正向地運用這些負面情緒,以協助個人成長。對我而言,受苦的定義,正是對於負面情緒抱持負面態度。

負面情緒的出現,就好比亮起紅燈的交通號誌,它告訴我們:該停下來了。如果我們認為交通中出現紅燈是不好的事,那表示我們並未完全了解這個號誌的用處。想像一下,如果我們都選擇忽略紅燈號誌代表的簡單訊息的話,那麼結果將會出現什麼樣的混亂局面?

同樣地,正面情緒就如同交通號誌裡的綠燈,它的出現告訴我們,該繼續前進了。如果我們反而在綠燈時踩下煞車,那又會帶來什麼樣的災難呢?

與其處決傳遞訊息的使者(即內心的負面情緒),我建議,當感受負面情緒時,可以試著練習以下三個步驟:

1. 覺知:注意當下
瑜珈的基礎在於覺知。不管我們做什麼,如果我們不保有覺知,那就不是瑜珈。當我們面臨負面情緒時,覺知即意味著在經歷負面情緒的同時,不受這樣的情緒擺佈。情緒是股強大的力量,輕易地就能將人淹沒。如果我們所經歷的負面情緒,比起我們回到當下覺知的能力,要來得強大,那麼我們可以等待心情較平靜時,再練習我所提的這三個步驟。這個覺知練習,是藉由將記憶帶回觸發負面情緒的事件發生的當下。在心情較平復時練習,我們可以訓練自己,於經歷負面情緒的同時,仍保持覺知。

2. 沈思:了解負面情緒的來源.
沈思的意思,是參與一段愉悅的自我對話。我的意思正是我們需要和自己進行談話。在這場對話裡,我們可以扮演一個傾聽朋友需求的人的角色。如果我們有所不解,就向朋友提出疑問,但不要扮演一個提供建議和評斷的人的角色。

在這場對話中,我們應該向自己提出兩個重要的問題:我真正需要的是什麼?我如何給我自己我所需要的?當我們向自己提出這些問題時,我們必須記得,瑜珈是練習不執著。不執著的意義之一正是,我們的快樂或成就,並不取決於任何自身以外的人或事。舉例來說。如果我們對第一個問題的回答是:我需要我的上司對我的工作能力表達尊重與認可,這表示我們依賴上司的尊重與認可。請你試著回答:我需要尊重與認可。接著問自己第二個問題:我應該如何給自己尊重與認可?這個問題的答案,將會發自內心而來。

3. 練習:依據上一步所得的觀察和洞見,重新調整自己的心靈、行動和言語
練習即是依循沈思所得的洞見而採取行動。若我們不依循這些洞見,那就好比手上有本食譜,卻從來不能試過其中任何一道菜。很樣一來,這本食譜很快地會變成負擔。

這三個步驟一直以來都幫助我對自己有更深的認識。我希望它們也能夠對你有所幫助。

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