Being With What Is.
Another way to experience our inner observer is simply being with what is, without trying to change it, or push it away. All our feelings, even those that seem painful, are deeply empowering. We can sit with our feelings, noticing them, without digging in, judging, or justification, just as our inner observer does. Without saying to ourselves “this is good or this is bad.” Without commenting internally or externally. Merely acknowledging a feeling and sitting with it, experiencing it, breathing into it, or feeling it in our body is very empowering and soothing. To flow, emotions need to be allowed and experienced. They have information for us. When we try to escape them, they can feel more insistent. This is certainly the case with anxiety.
One way to be with a painful feeling like fear is merely to gently acknowledge it. You can notice and feel the feelings without digging in deeper. Even through unpleasant feelings we can simply be with our self, with kindness. You might say to yourself something like “This anxiety feels terrible right now; I am in an uncomfortable place,” or “I do not like this feeling.” As you just sit with your emotions and breath, often there is naturally a shifting. Emotions can shift to a place of greater ease, even peace, rather quickly when we let ourselves simply experience them rather than trying to force them away.
Letting go of the Story
We can also let go, and don the perspective of the inner observer, by focus on the feelings alone and not the thoughts that trigger them. It does not usually matter why you feel how you feel right now, if your goal is to feel better. In this moment, there is little you can do to change the current circumstances in your life. There is nothing you can do about the past, and very little you can do about the future. Right now there is only Now. You cannot affect the presentation you will give tomorrow, whether your loved one will recover from his illness, whether what you said to a friend made her angry with you, whether the bank will repossess your house, how the U.S. political situation will affect the global economy, or the global climate. Worrying about those thoughts, and others like them, just digs your emotional hole deeper. But you can say to yourself, “Right now I feel anxious” or “Right now I feel sad,” without having to mentally add some reason or justification about why you feel how you do. You can feel the emotion and at the same time drop the story line. This provides a great deal of relief and allows the emotions to flow.
At happier moments, we can allow pleasant emotions to flow without a story line. While it is seemingly easy to experience pleasant emotions, in actuality, often we skip over them. We can be hurrying on to the next experience, or be busy comparing the present to a past moment. Be Here Now was the delightful title of a book by spiritual teacher Ram Dass, and is a fun contemporary song by Ray Lamontagne. It is worthwhile for our emotional flow to practice “being here now” by relaxing and noticing delightful feelings when they occur.
Excerpted from Freedom From Anxiety: A Holistic Approach to Emotional Well Being by Marcey Shapiro, MD, published by North Atlantic Books 1/14/14, copyright © 2014 by Marcey Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of publisher.
Stay tuned for more thoughts from Marcey Shapiro, MD, on “Transforming Health” and Heart Centered Living