Mind Optimization Part 24: Sitting with Feelings

Society rewards our thoughts more than our feelings. The answer is not to avoid feelings, but to learn how to reconnect with them again, for true balance. This can be foreign, and scary at first.

This video is part twenty-four of twenty-six excerpts from a presentation hosted by SOUL Food Salon in March 2019.

You may check out the full playlist of this video series on The Art and Science on Mind Optimization here. Alternatively, you can also click here to watch the previous video and here for the next one.

Video Transcript

So feelings are indeed scary. They compare sitting with feelings to riding a wild stallion, a relationship between the mind and heart. The heart has given us some crazy rides. It’s scared the crap out of you sometimes and you’ve also had some amazing, beautiful rides with it, but there’s a bit of trepidation and caution in how we approach our feelings because our feelings can be scary, and society doesn’t reward us being in our feelings. So it’s easier to pick up a glass of scotch or pick up your phone and get busy doing something instead of feeling.

Again, it takes tremendous courage to do this, but what I encourage all my patients is that, try to sit with it for just a little bit. Sitting on the horse is much like doing an exercise. It’s like, okay, if you can … “You’ve sat there for one minute. Can you now be there for three?” Part of the really important thing about sitting with our feelings for me is meditation.

I think part of the way I teach meditation is that it’s important to acknowledge the feeling, but then to also let it go. Jon Kabat-Zinn who wrote the book on mindfulness says if you’re in pain … The people that do well that have chronic pain and this is a scary reality that he’s written, lay out the doormat for pain. Invite it in. Surrender.

That gives me goosebumps ’cause that’s a scary way to look at things, but the reality then also becomes, what is the utility in resisting that? So I think we should all practice riding on the horse. The next time you’re feeling something intense, be with it for a little bit. The reality is, most feelings and most mood states tend to change, and in my experience with meditation, I often say we’re all going to suck at it in the beginning. No one’s good at it.

But about … I see it as the first third of the time that you sit, you’re going to get ideas. “Oh, what about that email?” and “Oh, I forgot bananas,” and “Oh, I should get up,” and “Oh, I’m terrible at this. I’m thinking about bananas and emails. I need to get up. What am I doing here? Waste of time. I can’t do this.” Your eye opens. “How long has it been? Oh, four minutes. God damn it. This is not working out.”

That’s exactly what it should be. You’re going to be terrible at it because you just haven’t done it before. The example I gave with the parking lot is important because I tell everybody that, like meditation, when you started learning to drive, you were terrible at it too. You couldn’t listen to music and adjust the rearview mirror and text while you were driving when you were learning, and now look at you. How far you’ve come, and the reality is, why do you think meditation would be anything different? That to me, again, it’s like you have to want it. You wanted to drive, you’re all driving. To me, sitting with our feelings is another tremendously important part of that.

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