All our emotions are linked to the sensations of the body. A lump in the throat, warmth in the chest, butterflies in the stomach – these are all sensations directly related to emotions. Attention directed to a particular emotion, or rather, to the sensations in the body associated with the affective state, helps us live through this emotion.
To be specific, if we direct the lantern of our attention to a disturbing feeling and keep it there for a long enough time, this feeling will begin to transform and eventually will disappea
Here is a very simple exercise that I use myself and recommend to my clients.
Take an uncomfortable feeling that is currently bothering you, pay attention to it, and try to describe the sensations in the body with your inner voice. Describe this emotion, dive into the image. Where do I feel the emotion in my body? What color is it? What are its size and shape? Is it heavy? What is the texture of it? Is it static or dynamic?
Here is an example of how the inner dialogue might sound like when I feel hurt or insulted:
– Where is the feeling of being hurt expressed in my body?
– In my throat.
– How does it feel, what does it look like?
– It feels like a solid partition that interferes with breathing.
– What is the size of this partition?
– About two centimeters.
– What color is it?
– What is its shape and texture?
– It’s rectangular and feels like metal.
– Is it warm or cold?
– It is hot.
Having described the emotion in this way, having thoroughly studied it, we return to point 1 and start over. Where is the feeling of being hurt situated in my body? Is this feeling warm or cold? Etc. We answer questions and observe whether something changes inside. Regardless of whether the sensations change or not, we continue to ask these questions over and over again. And observe. Over time, feelings and images will begin to transform and eventually disappear. The relief might not come immediately, it might even get worse at the beginning, which is a normal part of the process. Depending on how “charged” your emotion is, the exercise can take from a couple of minutes to … an hour and even longer 🙂
If the skill of observing and retaining attention has already been developed, questions may be excluded. In this case, all we need to do is observe emotions and sensations in the body. This simple exercise reveals a magical emotional transformation. While immersing attention into a particular emotion, we will notice how resentment is replaced by hatred, hatred then turns into rage, rage is further replaced by love, and love is followed by light sadness. Emotions will begin to unpack one by one without any particular order, some in fact may turn out to be quite a surprise! At some point during this exercise, a feeling of sufficiency, pleasant emptiness, and inner silence will appear. This is a good sign indicating that it’s time to finish the exercise.