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。





1. 覺知:注意當下

2. 沈思:了解負面情緒的來源.


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



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.


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






  • 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


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…」 。


  • 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