Throughout our day to day lives, we experience an array of emotions. Some are positive, like hope, happiness, and affection, while others, such as anger, loneliness, and despair, are negative. All of them are quite normal and inevitable, and often times we forget that everyone experiences these emotions at some point in their lives. We tend to embrace positive emotions for all good reason. Being content contributes stronger to personal well-being than being annoyed, as excitement has to the potential to yield more positivity than anguish or apathy. Positive emotions just feel like the norm, and when an individual isn’t experiencing one, it leaves plenty of room for other emotions to creep in.
When you experience an emotion like boredom, the initial reaction is to try to get rid of it. by finding something to fill your time with. Perhaps you find an engaging activity to move you from boredom to curiosity, or maybe you look for the easier route of a simple distraction. We’re always trying to change our emotions when they don’t sit well with us. Often times people who experience anger act upon it in as a way to let out their rage, or they suppress it internally as a way to cope with it. These methods don’t allow any room for healthy progress though. It only fuels the seed of anger even more. You would never try to suppress feelings of ecstasy or gratitude, but only try to extend their experience, so why should you neglect negative emotions?
A healthy way to deal with these not-so-pleasant emotions is to recognize them simply as what they are. They are feelings – they are not you – and they will pass in time. They will also pass easier with mindfulness. It’s easy to ruminate on an emotion. “I am angry, and this makes me angrier!!” But those sort of thoughts just make the emotion swell in size even more. We don’t seek out anger, it comes to us, it resides in us, and, in sequence, it leaves us. It extends its stay when we give it attention or when we hid it deep within us.
These negative emotions might feel like intruders, but instead of getting defensive, take a moment and try to observe them. Is there a reason why they feel so massive and uncontrollable? Is there a pattern to their arrival and stay? Are they triggered by something in particular? Once you try to understand a certain emotion, you’ll begin to know how to deal with it when it comes back around. No one wants to feel angry or depressed, and no one really wants to acknowledge it. But those feelings are normal, and with positive attention, from mindfulness, meditation, and other methods of well-being, one can harvest the benefits of focusing on positive emotions, and keep the seeds of negative ones from sprouting out of control.
I came home last night a bit drained from a long day, but luckily my beautiful wife was already home and she’s a bigger KD fan than I am… the house was full of rich sound of Krishna Das’s voice. … Continue reading
“C’mon, little guy, hold still!” a child commanded toward a frantic African shrew in a display case at the zoo. “I just want to get your picture!” The child toted a digital camera that was set and ready to shot an automatic flash photo, but the subject in question couldn’t stop pacing about in its case. “I don’t think he knows how to hold still,” the child’s mother stated. “Let’s move on to another animal, why don’t we?” But before they did, the child snapped a blurry photo of the shrew, just because.
What makes us feel the need to document every sight? Since when have viewfinders and screens become our drishti, the point of our gaze? Osho dubbed this phenomenon as “Kodakomania”. There’s nothing wrong at all with the use and embrace of this technology, but when the use of cameras and computers become more of a habit, they also become a bit of a hindrance. The focus becomes more about getting a satisfying image rather than observing the subject itself.
The zoo is an interesting place to notice this…when a lion springs into action, everyone immediately reaches for their cameras to catch the moment. It’s a tempting thing to do, because, really when do you see a lion in movement? Or any animal besides a squirrel or a starling, at least in this city? But to have the habit and desire, which is becoming almost instinct, to take a photograph of the moment is really takes away from the moment itself.
Establishing presence is a strong focus in yogic practice. How do we find the balance between life on-screen and off-screen? It’s tough to say, as situations vary from person to person. Perhaps reflecting on this topic could help mediate a balance of some sort. First off, what draws us to the urge of taking a picture of something? The subject itself. Its essence captivates us, and therefore, we feel a need to capture it, as to remember in some way and to share.
But there is much more to notice from a subject or an experience that can be seen and appreciated without the use of a camera. Ever seen the movie “The Girl With the Pearl Earring”? There’s a scene where she’s staring at the sky with the painting master and he asks her what color the sky is. She only gives him one color, but he says something along the lines of how there’s much more than that, yellow, white, grey, and blue. By taking a moment to see something for more than it is, you’ll notice all the details that come with it. That in itself is a beautiful way to use of establishing presence and drishti.
Yesterday I packed up my car, and hit the open road for what Google maps told me would be a 7 hour drive from Washington, DC to South Carolina. Ten hours later (thank you traffic!), I pulled up outside my parents’ house, exhausted, but thrilled to see them. Stepping out of the car, I knew that the many hours sitting in the same position might leave my body feeling stiff the next day. Along the route I incorporated some stretches, and before bed last night, worked my way through a few long and lazy sun salutations, lengthening from head to toe. Whether going on a road trip, taking a long flight, (or even sitting at a desk for many hours!), here are some ideas to counter all that sitting.
Before heading out:
1. I find that before I have to sit for a long period of time, it helps to get active – a quick run, bike ride, or brisk walk – to get the blood flowing.
2. Pack some props – I have a small pillow in the car that I can place at my lower back as I start to feel my spine crunching/hunching.
1. Move through a few cat/cow postures when stuck at a light or sitting in traffic. Round through the upper back, dropping the head to lengthen through the neck on the exhale. On the inhale, draw the chest forward, arching and opening the front of the body.
2. Focus on lengthening the spine – root down through the sits bones and feel as though someone is pulling a string up all the way through the crown of the head.
3. Remember to breathe – long, cleansing deep breaths send new oxygen through the body, help to dispel fatigue, and can reduce frustration. And if you are in the car on your own, try a few lion’s breaths – deep inhale through the nose, open the mouth, allow the tongue to stretch out and down, as you audibly exhale. Ahhhhh…
4. I find driving, especially long distances, to be time for meditation.
Post travel (or a long day at the office):
1. Find tadasana/mountain pose, standing straight, lifting up out of the hips, rolling the shoulders back and down. On an inhale, stretch the arms up over head, until the palms are touching. Reach up, look up, feel like rib cage expand. Allow the fingertips to lead the upper body into a side stretch, being careful not to collapse forward (if leaning to the right, roll the left shoulder open). Repeat on each side.
2. Adho Mukha Savasana, or down dog, is an all around, feel good pose. It not only calms the brain and body, it also opens the backs of the legs (which have been in crunched up all day!) and the upper back.
3. I love a gentle inversion in the evening, such as Viparita Kirani, or legs up the wall, to relieve cramping and fatigue in the legs.
Another road trip from SC to Boston is coming up next week. What are some of your favorite ways to keep the body calm and relaxed on a long trip??
*photo from jwblogisticsandtrucking.
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