Staying with sensations

 

It’s easy to say open to the emotion, welcome it, be with it. 

And yet, the question is, how can I do it?

Here are some ways I find helpful:

1. Find fears and resistant thoughts that come up when I consider opening to an intense emotion, and inquire into these. Some beliefs may be: It’s too much. I’ll be overwhelmed. This emotions means something terrible has happened/will happen. This emotion reflects reality. The thought behind it is true. 

2. As I open to the emotion, I can ask myself: Is it true, it’s too much? Is it true, it’s overwhelming? Is it true, I cannot do it? Is it true, it’s not already allowed?

3. Find where in the body I experience the emotion, and bring attention to the sensations there. Bringing attention to the sensation side of the emotion feels more manageable, and it’s also inquiry. I notice how it is to bring attention to the sensation side of the emotion. It may show me the distinction between the sensation side of an emotion, and the image/thought side. And the automatic coupling between those two may lessen and fall away over time. As an emotion arises, I may notice it’s a sensation, and some stories about it – it’s fear, it means something terrible will happen – are simply just thoughts, innocent questions about the world, not necessarily true.

4. When I bring attention to the sensations, notice how the sensations/emotions change over time, how new emerge – perhaps with their own stories, and so on. As Brandon Bays points out, this may eventually lead into the void.

5. As attention is distracted, bring it back to the sensations. Also, notice the thought attention is distracted by/into, and perhaps thoughts about distraction itself. Make a note of it and take this thought to inquiry later. The thoughts attention is distracted by may be the same as under #1 above, and the thoughts about distraction itself may be of the self-judgment kind.

6. As in TRE and other explorations, touch can be very helpful here. Someone holding my hand, or putting his/her hands on my shoulder, or the belly, or feet, may be a great support in staying with intense emotions as they surface. It’s a reminder that someone else is here in the world, and of kindness.

7. I can also do ho’oponopono on the situation: On the person or situation the emotion appears to be about, here and now.  On the emotion itself, seen as an enemy and struggled against. On myself, struggling with how to relate to the intense emotion. And perhaps, if I trace the wound/fear/belief back, on an early childhood situation relating to what’s surfacing now.

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– intense emotions, bring attention to the sensations, stay with the sensations
– easier, more manageable, also – get to see the difference between the emotion and the image/story aspects of emotions
– notice how it changes, new emotions emerge etc. (may shift into void)

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The how-to’s are at many different levels.

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3. Find where in the body I experience the emotion, and bring attention to the sensations there. This feels more manageable. And it’s also inquiry. I notice how it is to bring attention to the sensation side of the emotion. It may show me the difference between the sensation side of the emotion, and the image/story side. It may show me that the experience of an emotion – the fear, anger, sadness, grief – is created when sensations and image/story combine. There are sensations, and there is an image or thought that it’s anger, and what it means. When these combine, and the thoughts are taken as true, the emotion can feel solid, real and overwhelming. This all may fall away when attention goes to the sensations. And as the distinction between sensations and related images/thoughts becomes more clear over time, it tends to infuse experience in everyday life. As emotions arise, they are recognized as sensations and images/thoughts combined, and the images/thoughts are not as true as they initially may seem.

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