Tag Archives: emotions

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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A cause of guilt

I have been in the situation where somebody is experiencing guilt twice in the past week. I noticed in both situations, the guilt was caused by self-judgemental thinking. Because it wasn’t me who was experiencing guilt in the first situation, I will only write about the second situation in this article.

I have recently joined Kiva, a non-profit organisation with the aim of alleviating poverty via microfinancing. What it boils down to is that Kiva makes it possible for us to lend money to those in need1,2.

When you want to make a lend money via Kiva, you can browse through a list of people who want to borrow money. When I was browsing through this list a few days ago, I became aware of the fact that I can only support a handful of people without creating an unstable financial situation for myself; the consequence of this is that that I have to choose somebody from the list of borrowers to lend money to. Then I became very aware of the fact that if I choose to give money to one person, I am also choosing not to give it to any of the other people. I suddenly found myself with an enormous feeling of discomfort.

Because I was not being very aware, my thinking took over and I started to subtly condemn myself. I started thinking that I’m a bad person for choosing which person is more deserving to borrow my money and that I’m not wealthy enough to support everyone. Guilt started piling up in me and, luckily, that’s when I became aware of the absurdity of my thinking. I had become judgemental about myself.

I backtracked to my feeling of discomfort and I asked myself what unmet need of mine is at the root of it. The answer was that I simply want to live in a world where people aren’t in (absolutely unnecessary) poverty. Realising that my feeling of discomfort was an expression of care for others made it go away.

I was not satisfied with the discomfort going away. I needed to know why I went on a guilt trip. I came to the conclusion that I became judgemental of myself because I became very focused on what I was not able to do, and forgot all about (1) what I was able to do and (2) that there is no reason to have regrets when I have done what I can. This was actually the exact same type of thinking that I made somebody else aware of a day earlier!

We want to help others because it is our nature to do so. We feel wonderful when we are able to help others. At the same time it’s also our inherent in us that we are limited in what we can do at any given moment. This should not stop us from doing what we can up to our limits. It my experience that we will feel content when we have done what we can.

1: I want to give one reason why I feel comfortable with lending money to those in need, instead of donating it. When I say that I want to help somebody, my intention is to help that person to become independent. When somebody borrows money, he does so with the intention repaying his loan. In order to do that, the borrower needs a sustainable way of earning money; this is one aspect of being independent. I’m not concerned about being paid back.
2: Incidentally, consider using my Kiva invite page if you are interested in joining Kiva. By using this invitiation link, we will both have the opportunity to lend an additional $25, provided by a sponsor of Kiva, to any borrower of our choosing.

中文版本稍後提供。
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Identifying feelings 辨別感受

Part 1
Part 2 – This article

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of conducting a workshop for HYMT on the subject of going beyond judgements. To me this means moving out of the head and into the heart, away from certain kinds of thinking and into feeling. Both Elly and I were intrigued by the great difficulty that the participants of the workshop had in identifying feelings. This is a subject that I have also found very difficult and it took me a number of years (!) to find a pathway out of my head and into my heart. It is my hope that through this sharing of some insights that I have had on this topic, you will be able to find a pathway into the heart more easily than I was able to.

It has now been almost two years ago that I was in a very negative state of mind, full of frustration and depression. I was in this state when Wolfgang called me to come talk to him in Germany. In another article I will write more about this specific meeting with him, because the conversation we had was one of the highlights in my training so far. What is important for this article is that he often asked me how I was feeling, to go into my heart and to stop talking from my head because he had no interest in listening to that. Almost every time that I thought I was expressing my feelings, he was letting me know that I was stuck in my head. I was so confused and frustrated by my inability to understand what this heart-business was that I ended up just staring at him, not knowing what to say. I realised that I was clueless on this subject.

To come back to that workshop I mentioned, I asked the participants to answer the following question:

You have just done the dishes and somebody in your household tells you: “For God’s sake, you really don’t know how to do the dishes!” What do you suspect that that person is feeling?

Here are some examples of the answers I got:

  • That person feels that his way of doing dishes is different from mine.
  • That person feels that I didn’t do a good job.
  • That person feels that I am not paying attention to some small details, and that I could have paid attention to those details.
  • That person feels that I am not helping her.

I began to see in the participants signs of the same dumbstruckness that had come over me in my conversation with Wolfgang when I said of each and every answer that it is not a feeling. It can be seen from the expression that we use, whether we are talking from the head or from the heart.

Marshall Rosenberg actually gives a simple rule of thumb, which works extremely well in certain languages (like English and Dutch, but not necessarily in Mandarin Chinese), that you can use to determine this: whenever somebody says “I feel that …”, everything after that is either rational analysis, judgement, speculation or something else coming from that person’s head. What the person is probably meaning to say is something along the lines of “I think that …”, “I believe that …” or “I suspect or guess that …”

Feelings are expressed with simple words. Here are a few of many examples:

  • Happiness; I feel happy.
  • Joyfulness; I feel joyful.
  • Satisfaction; I feel satisfied.
  • Confidence; I feel confident.
  • Confusion; I feel confused.
  • Anger; I feel angry.
  • Frustration; I feel frustrated.
  • Sadness; I feel sad.
  • Insecurity; I feel insecure.
  • Discomfort; I feel uncomfortable
  • Fear; I feel afraid

The above list does not mean that something like “I feel watched” or “I feel judged” is an expression of a feeling. When you analyse the words watched and judged, you will find that it describes some action of somebody else. It is another way of saying “I feel that somebody is watching or judging me”.

I would suggest to use the explanations aboven in the following way. When you want to know your feeling about something, see whether what you are saying to yourself (or others) from the heart by checking it against the examples of feeling-expressions and the examples of thought-expressions above. If that is a thought-expression, try to formulate a feeling-expression. If you cannot name a feeling or emotion, simply try to see what word fits best. Is it sadness, happiness, joy, fear, etc. You will feel it when you come across the right one.

Part 1
Part 2 – 本文

我很高興上個星期天在台灣喜瑪拉雅瑜珈協會的每月講座上,分享如何超越批評。對我而言,超越批評意指離開理性,接受感性,遠離某種思考模式,進入感受。有件事讓我和Elly感到很好奇,那就是在場參加講座的人似乎都難以辨別他們的「感覺」。我自己也覺得這是個困難的議題,而我花了好幾年時間才找到遠離我的大腦理性,進入內心的感性世界的途徑。我希望透過分享個人觀察,你可以比我更容易找到前往內心感受的道路。

兩年多前,我處在一個相當負面的狀態下,充滿沮喪和憂鬱,就在這個時候沃夫岡撥了通電話給我,要我到德國和他談談。這段對話是我的訓練歷程中的最重要的一部分,在接下來的文章裡,我會分享有關這次會面的心得。重要的是,當時他經常問我,我的感覺如何,他要我進入內心,停止和大腦對話,因為他對於大腦的話一點興趣也沒有。每次我都以為自己表達的是感覺,但他告訴我,我在大腦中停滯不前。我對自己無法理解他所謂的「進入內心」感到既困惑又挫折,結果只好瞪著沃夫岡,不知道該說什麼才好。那個時候我才意識到,我對內心感受一點也不了解。

再回到每月講座,我請在場的聽眾試著回答以下問題:

你剛洗完碗,而你的某個家人對你說:「天啊,你真的不知道怎麼洗碗!」你猜想說這句話的人可能有什麼感覺?

以下是幾個聽眾所提供的回答:

  • 那個人覺得他洗碗的方法和我的不一樣.
  • 那個人覺得我做得不好
  • 那個人覺得我忽略了我應該注意到的小細節
  • 那個人覺得我沒有幫上忙

當我告訴他們,這些都不是感覺時,我開始在聽眾臉上看到和我在與沃夫岡的對話中浮現的茫然。光是從我們所用的言語表達,就可以知道我們是所說的話,是從大腦或從內心而來。

事實上,Marshall Rosenberg提供了一個很簡單的原則。這個原則在某些語言裡很有用,如英文和荷蘭文,但不見得對中文有用。你可以用這個原則來判斷:當一個人說:「我感覺…」在「我感覺」之後出現的話,常是理性的分析、論斷、猜測或某些來自大腦理性的敍述。這個人可能真正要語的是:「我想…」、「我相信…」、「我猜…」 。

感覺可以用簡單的字眼來表達,以下是幾個例子:

  • 快樂:我感到快樂
  • 愉悅:我感到愉快
  • 滿足:我感到滿足.
  • 自信:我感到自信
  • 困惑:我感到困惑
  • 生氣:我感到生氣
  • 傷心:我感到傷心
  • 不安全感:我感到不安
  • 不舒適:我感到不適
  • 恐懼:我感到害怕

以上的例子並不包含如「我感到被監視」或者「我感到被批評」等表達方式。當你分析如「被監視」和「被批評」這些字眼,你會發現,它們描述的是他人的行為,那是另一種表達「我感覺某個人正在監視或批評我」的方式。

我建議大家可以如此運用上述的解釋。當你想了解自己對於某件事情的感受時,你可以對照前面所提到的「感覺表達語」和「思維表達語」,以檢視自己(或他人)所說的話是否出自內心。如果那是個「思維表達語」,那麼請你試著說出你的「感覺表達語」。如果你說不出你的感受或情緒,試著找找看最接近的感受是什麼,是傷心、快樂、喜悅或恐懼?一旦你找到最貼切的感受時,你將可以感覺到它。

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