Introduction to Mindful Emotions

Emotions

Mindfulness involves paying attention to our emotions so that we become more aware of them, less enmeshed in them, and better able to manage them.

As human beings, we are all effected by emotions. In fact, emotional discomfort is a very normal universal human experience. Negative emotions such as sadness, anger and fear are part of being human. These emotions are not just common, normal and OK, they are actually important and useful to us.

We tend to label our emotions as ‘good’ (such as happiness or excitement) and ‘bad’ (such as anxiety or sadness). Mindfulness is about coming to the realisation that emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are. It is the labels that we give to them that effect how we experience them.

An important thing to remember about emotions is that they are not permanent. Emotions are changing experiences that are always fluctuating and eventually pass.

Mindfulness invites us to observe our emotions without getting caught up and carried away in them.

A useful metaphor for our emotions is the weather. Pleasant emotions like joy and excitement are like a sunny, summery day. Difficult feelings like anger or frustration are like a dark, stormy wintery day. And just like the weather, emotions change. When you are feeling a bit stormy or rainy inside, remember that the storm clouds pass by and there is blue sky above.

When we practice mindfulness of emotions, it is often the first time we have opened up to the experience of sitting with difficult and often uncomfortable feelings. We usually try our best to do the exact opposite – we try to escape from them

Meditation

For today’s meditation, you or your children are going to focus on how they are feeling and relate this to what type of “weather” is inside them – this meditation is called “My Internal Weather”

My Internal Weather meditation

Where Are My Emotions

Dreams, stories and movies can make humans feel excited and sometimes scared. You and your children might have noticed feeling these emotions in their belly, or chest and throat (like a tightness) or maybe somewhere totally different.

Keep exploring with your children where they feel these different emotions in their bodies. The next time you listen to a story, reading a book, or watching a movie with your children ask them how they feel – happy, sad, sleepy, relaxed, angry – and notice where they feel it. If you like, you can have your children make a drawing of their body and colour each different emotion in with a different colour or pattern.

You can have them keep adding colours and patterns to this drawing until you think they’ve added all their emotions to it.