“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” -thich nhat hanh
One thing I had never tried until treatment (and recommend to anyone!) is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
One of my favorite mindfulness exercises is to imagine each thought like a cloud in the sky. The idea of mindfulness is to think only of the present moment- but of course our minds will wander. Every time a thought arises you recognize it has come and then you watch it float away. You don’t judge yourself for thinking and you don’t dwell on that thought either. The same can be done with emotions.
Something I try to keep in mind is that emotions themselves actually have a very short lifespan. Harvard brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor has found that emotions only last for 90 seconds.
“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment,” she says, “there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.”
We can free ourselves from that loop by simply identifying the emotion we're feeling and then, without judgement, allowing it to come and go. Just think of it as a cloud in the sky, watch it pass by, and breathe.
Cabrillo National Monument September 21, 2013