Primum non nocere: Do no harm. Do no harm to others means not expressing negative emotions or blaming others. Do no harm to yourself means not suppressing negative emotions or blaming yourself. So then what do you do with anger, fear and doubt?
There is a third way: to experience your emotions. What do you do in order to experience your emotions without expressing or suppressing them? You practice proper breathing and as you sit quietly breathing, you let your emotions arise, peak and dissipate. Meditation is not passive. Meditation requires active mental processing of emotions and thoughts.
The challenge is to find time to practice. While driving in the car, in the evening just before bedtime instead of watching TV and first thing in the morning as you are waking up and as you are getting going in the morning.
The first step is to practice proper breathing. Practice focusing on each inhale and exhale slowing down your breathing and using your stomach to push air in and out of your lungs. Practice counting to eight on each inhale, hold for count of eight, exhale and then don’t inhale for a count of eight. Do this no more than three times then return to regular breathing.
Practice thought labeling while breathing. As each thought comes into your mind, give it a name: a past event, a person, a feeling, a thought, an emotion, etc. Notice how they arise, peak and then fade away. Like a random slideshow or soundbites. Emotions are the ones that feel like they are going to take over our mind and body. Let them arise, peak and fade away. Practice labeling thoughts and emotions.
Practice with a specific emotion. Practice with anger. As you focus on your breathing, remember a specific time when you felt really angry. Let that emotion arise, peak and fade away. Repeat this process, observing your body responding to the emotion. Remember another specific time when you felt really angry. Practice with that event. Remember a person in your life who you feel anger towards. Practice with your anger by letting anger arise, peak and fade away.
The practice of thought labeling and practicing with emotions are ways of experiencing. We are not expressing our emotions nor are we suppressing our emotions. We are experiencing.
Return here after reviewing the first blog in this series “What is the basic human problem?” (http://tinyurl.com/8a68drk).
Source: Bayda, Ezra. Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life. Boston.: Shambhala, 2002. Print.