ONLINE COUNSELING THERAPY FOR ANXIETY
Mindfulness is an ancient practice, and central to all the teachings of the Buddha, in which we let go of doing and reacting, thinking and trying to fix things, and simply sit with each of our emotions with a mind that is open, caring and genuinely interested in the subtleties of an emotional complex. It is a central tenet in Mindfulness Psychotherapy that what keeps emotional suffering and anxiety alive is our inattention or un-mindfulness, also simply called ignorance. We suffer from our pain day in day out, but never really take the time to simply be with our pain, observing it, gently massaging it with the love of pure undivided attention.
There is a growing awareness of the prime importance of this quality of mindful-attention. Its not about analyzing the problem, not about trying to change negative beliefs, not about fixing things, but about creating a safe space around the suffering that gives it a chance to move, unfold and change in its own unique way, free from the interference of the ego-directed thinking mind. Trying to fix things externally can only be partially successful if done in isolation. We need to heal at the core, and this means allowing changes to arise from the intuitive level, a much more sensitive level than provided by the ego and thinking mind. After all, the problems of inner conflict and disharmony are largely a product of the ego trying to control emotional suffering through the ego-reactions of repression, diversion and avoidance. It is a far better practice to first establish a foundation of stillness and inner listening at a deeper and intuitive level, a foundation in the fertile ground of mindfulness and allow action, new beliefs and insights to arise from this solid foundation.
Every emotion can be seen as a mental object, something that arises in the mind and has a certain life of its own. We get a sense of the anxiety or depression or fear as being a part of our mind: an inner child, a judgmental parent, or simply as an object with a certain shape and color. Frequently these inner mental objects can be felt to reside in a particular part of the body - the heart, neck or stomach. Most seem to occur in a specific position in your inner visual screen, perhaps to the left or right, or in front of you.
Take the time to focus your mindfulness inwardly and see if you can get a sense of your emotional objects, whether anxiety, anger or guilt. Every inner part, every emotion has a certain aura, a felt-sense that surrounds it. Mindfulness helps us detect this, as well as detecting our habitual tendencies to react to the emotion or traumatic memory.
Another essential tenet of Mindfulness Meditation Therapy, and this is what you are doing when you focus mindfulness on an emotion, is to learn how to respond to these reactions, the fear of the emotion, the tendency to get lost in thinking, in self-judgement and inner dialogue. The critical point to understand is that these reactions can also be seen as mental objects, to be related to in exactly the same way - with mindfulness. One of the things that makes mindfulness quite special, and different from general attention or awareness, is that nothing is excluded when we are cultivating a relationship based on mindfulness. We make room for our emotional object as well as our reactions to that emotion; there’s plenty of space for all.
Practice focusing on your pain and saying, “I see you. Welcome. I promise you that I am going to be with you and give you 100% of my attention.” Each moment of mindful-contact heals. It breathes warmth into those parts that are frozen. It softens those parts that have become contracted and contorted into tortured forms. It envelops suffering in the healing space of inner freedom and care that is the expression of genuine love. Practice this way of relating to your anxiety, depression, grief or trauma a hundred times a day and see for yourself if this doesn’t have a beneficial healing effect. Quite different to our usual mechanical reactivity in which we run away from our pain, or the pain of others. Quite different to becoming lost in thinking. The purpose of mindfulness meditation on emotions is not to re-experience the emotion or traumatic memory, but learn how to experience them differently, as parts of yourself that require your attention and love. Love that you give through being there for your emotions, being present, being engaged with your suffering. That quality of being present is a movement in stillness, not words and thinking, but listening fully with a mind that cares and is open to every tiny movement. You learn to hold your emotion in the cradle of mindfulness.
If you tune in to your emotions in this way and listen, they will respond by releasing their iron-grip on you. If you learn to love your pain in this way, your pain will reward you by releasing trapped emotional energy, and make it free to re-assimilate back into the psyche where it can do good and breath life and vitality back into your being. It may seem strange, but in essence, if you give your emotional suffering space, it will respond by transforming and resolving in direct proportion. If you allow it to heal, it will heal. The only thing that stops our suffering from healing is our reactivity, our un-mindfulness and ignorance. This habit can be undone right now by learning to greet each emotion, each reaction, each thought and memory as an object to which we can relate with mindfulness, with full engaged-presence. Give it a try. Give your emotions a massage - the massage of mindfulness.