I've spent a huge percentage of my adult life learning about how to carry emotion in a healthy way. I've been figuring out how to change the way my body responds to emotions such as grief, anxiety, love, joy, from something overwhelming and scary to something... a little more fearless.
At the age of thirty I am finally beginning to understand how to be unafraid of feeling. Literal feeling. Emotions = physical sensations. I could tell you exactly where sadness is in my body and what it feels like, what color it is, how it moves. I know the exact sequence that goes off throughout my insides when a feeling comes through. For years this has felt more like a curse than a blessing and often still does BUT.. but I have honed a magnificent tool to keep me curious rather than fearful.
My mother has said it ever since I can remember but it has taken me about thirty years to fully ingest it's meaning in a real way: this too shall pass. The most comforting phrase I know.
I used to think it was a passive a thought. I used to brush it away, saying "yeah, yeah, yeah." But trUly, it is revolutionizing my world. As someone who has frequent bouts with anxiety, often tipped off by physical sensations, this is the most effective mental tool I have. When I feel the familiar sensations arise within me, instead of my mind spiraling into fear, I say, "It's only temporary. This is unsustainable. In mere moments or maybe in a little bit or tomorrow or even next year, I'll be ok once more feeling the wind on my face or smiling at the sky. And something about knowing that truth means that I don't need to fear the feelings that arise, the crushing tightness in my chest and neck and spine, but rather that I can get curious about it. It is a gift. Allowing myself the safe space to get curious about what and how I'm feeling. It feels so much better than running like hell in the opposite direction.
I don't always succeed, but I can say that I can see the person I can become if I keep practicing this. And I really like her.
Life is a mind game, right? It's just our perception that creates the reality we inhabit. I know I'm not saying anything new. I've heard this and understood this for years but it has taken me a lifetime for it to finally FEEL real to me.
Mindfulness, man. Mindfulness.