REFRAME YOUR EMOTIONS
The idea behind mindfulness isn’t to learn how to turn off emotions but to learn to be okay with them, no matter how hard the punch: l You can do this exercise anywhere – on the bus, in the shower or pole dancing: Follow your breath going in and out. If you sense an emotion, home in on the area of your body where you feel it most. Label it with just one word (anxiety, fear, rage) – don’t make up an entire story. When you label an emotion, a space opens up around the feeling and the intensity of the emotion lowers. You’re stepping back from the feeling and becoming an observer of it. Remember, you’re not trying to get that emotion to go away; you’re just sitting with it as you would with a friend who is struggling and whom you’re helping to find the right word that says it all. If the emotion becomes too intense, go back to the shower. l A few months ago, I woke up gripped by the throat with anxiety. In the past I wouldn’t have been aware of what the feeling was and for the rest of the day I’d try to hunt down someone or something to pin my anxiety on and blame them for it. This time, when I woke up feeling anxious, I took note of my inner state and gave it the label ‘anxiety’. It hadn’t been caused by anyone or anything. After doing some mindfulness practice, I realised I was anxious because of a dream I’d had – a moose was chasing me down Kensington High Street. Once I could label it, the emotion receded. It was such a relief, I could even laugh about it.