Surfing The Tides of Our Mind


What does it mean to truly ride the waves of emotion?  It can be very difficult to even identify what we are feeling much less feel through it and ride with it.  In order to let something go, we must let it be – we cannot cast out the unpleasant feeling until we have stepped through the experience of it.  


With all pain, there is movement and growth; yet, we do whatever we can to avoid pain and keep everything status quo.  Our fear tells us that we cannot get through it and it would be devastating to go through the emotion produced by an unpleasant situation.  Many people work to try to prepare for this inevitable unpleasant experience – as a large wave is bound to wash ashore at some point.  “If I’m ready for the negative experience by keeping myself prepared, then I will cope with it more effectively” – this is a lie and is very wrong.  More often than not, this leads to tension and hypervigilence in our bodies that causes lower immune performance as well as stress.


Our bodies cannot cope with a situation that has not occurred – no matter how hard we try, we will not be able to address a situation in the future because it is not there in reality.  Still, our bodies don’t know much different so we stay prepared.   Let this go – notice the fear that comes up when we even think about letting it go.  This is normal.  Holding on to this feeling does nothing for any of us and does not allow you to fully experience all of the emotions that we as humans are meant to have.


Still, some emotions are scary – can we really stay safe and surf the depths of our minds?  Can we stay out at bay while a storm is surging?  With grounding and mindful, attentive practice, we can.  What if we didn’t fight emotions that came up?  What if we allowed them to happen and felt through them with awareness using the present moment, while taking good care of ourselves and listening in a nonjudgmental way?  First, we would not feel a need to react so quickly to our thoughts; second, we would not feel a need to resist certain thoughts; and third, we would begin to grow more tolerant to the feeling and allow it to become more comfortable for us.  In this way, we can become more comfortable with uncertainty. 


Pay attention, on purpose, with no judgment – this is Jon Kabat-Zin’s definition of mindfulness.  Allow whatever comes up to happen for a time.  Don’t just try to “get rid of” whatever is happening right away.  Begin with breathing and observing, sit still in the feeling for small periods of time.  What do you notice about the feeling that you did not before?  If you begin to feel overwhelmed by the feeling, stop and go do something that relaxes you and helps you release and focus elsewhere for a time.  Notice thoughts related to your overwhelm – do your thoughts have an effect on the intensity of your emotions?  Any emotion that comes up is asking to be worked through – you will have plenty of chances and the emotion will come up when it needs to.   If you miss an opportunity – no worries, there will be plenty more!


Trust that when pain comes up, you are growing.  Trust that the waves of the ocean, when traversed correctly, will guide you to where you need to be – where we were born to be.