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Befriending (Intense) Feelings: Practice



You can benefit from befriending your feelings, both your everyday feelings and the more intense feelings of anxiety, depression, grief, fear. You will benefit from learning to befriend your feelings if you are an athlete, business person, performing artist, student, parent. I encourage you to read the entire practice, and then spend 3-5 minutes befriending your feeling.

Befriending (Intense) Feelings: Practice

The practice involves bringing kind and curious attention to your feelings, or emotions. Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Find the breath in your belly, and rest in stillness and quietness.

When you are ready, simply note whatever feelings are present. Sometimes it can be helpful to name the feeling or feelings. Some feelings may have ordinary names, like angry, happy, sad, or excited, and others may have more unusual names, like stormy, bubbly, fiery, or empty. It can be helpful to remember that feelings may be small and subtle and kind of shy or big and intense, that feelings may shift over time, and that there may be layers of feelings.

Once you’ve brought your kind and curious attention to a particular feeling, and you’ve named it, notice where the feeling lives in your body: sitting in your chest, moving in your belly, thrumming in your head. Also notice how the emotion feels in your body. Does it feel small? Heavy? Hard? Warm? Jagged? Light? Soft? Smooth? Big? Cool? Is it moving or still?… If any of these questions shifts you into thinking about the feeling rather than experiencing it, just breathe and return to being with the feeling.

Now, notice whether the feeling has a color, or colors, or imagine that it does—perhaps dark red, pale blue, or bright green. And if it doesn’t have a color, that is fine.

And listen to see whether the feeling has a sound, such as giggling, groaning, weeping, or whining. And if there’s no sound, no worries.

To end the practice, notice how you feel now, and congratulate yourself for taking the time to be with, and befriend, your feelings. Then, return your attention to the breath and rest in stillness and quietness for a bit longer. Remember, you can rest in stillness and befriend your feelings whenever you want.

When you are ready, take three slow deep breaths in your own time. Open your eyes and move into your next moment.

Having Your Feelings Without Your Feelings Having You

You just practiced befriending your feelings. There is real power in learning to have your feelings without your feelings having you. “In my view,” writes Phil Jackson, champion NBA player and coach, “the key to becoming a successful NBA player is not learning the coolest highlight-reel moves. It’s learning to control your emotions and keep your mind focused on the game—how to stay cool under pressure and maintain your equanimity after crushing losses or ecstatic wins”

And, of course, the ability to befriend our feelings can benefit all of us in our daily lives whether we are athletes, entrepreneurs, performing artists, parents, students, teachers, health care providers, and on.

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