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MBSR Awareness of Emotions

Sitting Meditation: Open Awareness. Awareness of Emotions
Introduction: Our inner life can become fascinating if we practice mindfulness of emotion in the Body. If we ever become bored during this exercise, label it “bored.” Boredom always changes to something else when we linger with it long enough, without prejudice. There’s often an unpleasant or unfamiliar feeling lurking in the shadows just behind boredom. The practice of becoming aware of
our emotions can transform us into poets, searching for subtle nuances in emotional experience,
unflinching in the face of discomfort.
With this practice, don’t worry about finding the perfect label, don’t think about it too much, choose
a good enough label and return to the breath. For example, we can say “unpleasant,” “pleasant,” or
“neutral” as we sweep through the sensations in the body.
Or when we feel an unpleasant sensation, we can just say, “Ouch!”
The task is simply to recognise the strongest emotion happening in the present moment, even if it is only a whisper.
The first time you do this exercise, don’t choose something too big; choose a mildly difficult emotion.
Once you are used to the practice, drop into it whenever you notice strong emotion is present.
The idea of labelling is to be with the sensations without being swallowed up in them or pretending they aren’t here.
Research tells us that labelling emotions can also calm the brain.

MBSR Guided Meditation: Awareness of Emotion

Pauses for this practice can be 50 seconds
Intention – To recognise when emotion is with us, kindly and gently cultivating a new relationship with our feelings with less avoidance and a broader perspective.
Attention – Practising becoming aware of where emotions are felt in the body
Attitude – Curiosity, allowing, non-judging and non-identifying – we are not our emotions. As best we can softening our resistance to any emotional discomfort.

Settling down into an appropriate posture
finding a comfortable seated position
perhaps feeling the ground beneath our feet – sitting bones making contact with the seat
spine growing tall – head balanced on top of the spine
allowing the hands to rest on the lap or thighs
gently closing our eyes or lowering your gaze
making a choice to allow ourselves to be exactly as we are in this moment
simply present with and open to what is happening right now
As we settle – just allowing our attention to feel the body breathing
the breath entering and leaving the body
Bringing curiosity and freshness to this moment
noticing where we feel the sensation of breath most vividly now
and centring our attention there
Simply breathing in – and out
noticing that there is a beginning, middle, and end of an in-breath
and a beginning, middle, and end of an out-breath
With the next in-breath – expanding the attention beyond the breath
to include the entire body – sitting here
Becoming aware of sensation in the body
Perhaps sensations of contact with the chair or cushion
Maybe the touch of clothes on your body or how your hands feel in the moment.
Sensations of temperature on the skin.
Being present with any bodily sensations as they arise.
Allowing the attention to shift from the breath and the body to the sense of hearing
Not seeking sound – rather receiving whatever is available
from within the body and from the environment near and far
becoming particularly aware of hearing
Noticing how the awareness receives sounds without effort
How some sounds are very short, and some are long
How they are varied and textured
How there is space between sounds
awareness that just like the breath, sounds have a beginning, middle and an end
Gently shifting the attention from the changing patterns of sensations and sounds,
and letting it expand this time into thinking – the realm of thought
practising seeing thoughts, not as distractions – instead – bringing our awareness to the thinking process itself
Practising noticing thoughts
perhaps labelling thoughts “planning,” “worrying”,, dreaming” “arguing,” “remembering.”
gaining perspective
practising looking at thoughts rather than from thoughts
If we notice we are carried away in the current of thinking, practising coming back to observing
thoughts as separate elements that come and go
gently coming back to the anchor of the breath and the body sitting here
Thoughts moving through an open and spacious mind
there is no need to try to make thoughts come or go
Just practising watching them arise
Labelling them, greeting them or saying “hello thought”, “goodbye thought” and letting them pass away.

8/20 12/30
Bringing our attention to our heart region.
If it feels right, perhaps placing the hand over the heart
feeling the warmth from the palm of our hand against our chest
perhaps finding a sense of the breath in the heart region
Gently breathing into the area
breathing out of the area
When the mind wanders, practising coming back to the sensation of breathing
and back into the heart region

breathing into the area beneath the hand
breathing out of the area
at any point resting the hand if necessary – and if it feels appropriate returning it
When ready, releasing the breath, keeping the attention in the heart region, and asking ourselves
“What am I feeling?
Letting the attention be drawn to the strongest emotion in the body
to the location where the feeling expresses itself most strongly
even if it is only a whisper
inclining gently toward that area
allowing the breath to be our anchor
allowing the sensation to be there – just as it is
Perhaps soothing ourselves by holding our own hand
Or once again placing the hand over the heart
allowing the gentle, rhythmic motion of the breath to soothe the body

10/20 15/30
As we simply sit there, maybe no obvious emotions are present,
or we might be noticing there is a lot of emotion here – “contentment”, perhaps just “curiosity.”
Eventually, we might become aware of another emotion, such as “longing is here”, “sadness,” “maybe worry,” “irritation is here”, “loneliness”, “joy,” or “boredom?
as best we can labelling the emotion without being swallowed up in them
if it feels right, repeating the label two or three times, in a kind, gentle voice,
for example, saying perhaps “there is a lot of emotion here.”
and then returning to the breath
We practice going back and forth between the breath and emotions in a relaxed way
letting the attention be drawn from the breath by an emotion – labelling it – and then returning to our breath
if no feeling shows itself – then as best we can, being open to the possibility
that emotion may come into our awareness
as we simply sit and breathe
Observing the whole of an in-breath from the beginning to the end
noticing the moment, the space, or pause, when it shifts to become an out-breath
and then noticing the out-breath from its beginning to its shift as it becomes an in-breath
If it feels right, gently bringing emotions back into awareness
letting our attention be drawn from the breath by an emotion
labelling it
and then returning to the breath
If we feel overwhelmed by an emotion
coming back to the anchor of the breath or feet on the floor
staying with the rhythm of the breath rolling in – and rolling out
The sense of being grounded – anchoring in the present moment
until we feel able to return to the emotion and its echo in the body
Again if you wish, returning the hand to the heart region
and practising going back and forth between the breath and our emotions in a relaxed way
letting the attention be drawn from the breath by an emotion – labelling it – and then returning to our breath
Coming back to the breath
observing the in-breath from the beginning to the end
and then noticing the out-breath from its beginning to its end
Again practising
giving our strongest feeling a name
repeating the label two or three times, in
a kind, gentle voice, and then coming back to the breath
Realising that no matter how many times the attention leaves the breath
at some point, awareness of that arises, and there is an opportunity to choose
to take care of ourselves
and maybe choosing to bring the attention back – to this in-breath – and this out-breath – in the present
Anchoring in the body
gently sweeping the awareness from head to toe
taking a kindly breath to any tension or discomfort
noticing any sense of how the body resists uncomfortable emotions
perhaps the emotion can be felt in more places than initially expected?
Staying in touch with sensations in the body as we sit
anchoring ourselves in the present moment
When the attention wanders, noticing and making a choice to bring it back with care and
kindness to the awareness of this moment
the breath rolling in
and rolling out

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Gently shifting now into an Open Awareness
Not choosing to bring your attention to anything in particular
Simply sitting here – fully aware of whatever is presenting itself to you in each moment
Observing whatever presents itself to you at the moment
Being spacious with whatever arises
Sitting in stillness with whatever comes and goes
Being present with it all
Being here now
Practising opening to the totality of your experience…

Gently expanding the attention to include the entire body
from the soles of the feet to the top of the head
being present to the totality of the experience of sitting here in this moment
perhaps feeling the breath – how it has been a constant companion
how it brings the whole body together.
Allowing our attention to be carried by the breath

Feeling the surface beneath us – touching the ground below
breathing in
and breathing out – down into the ground
breathing in
and breathing out – down into the earth
earthing ourselves

Noticing the sounds in the room, outside of the room
Mindfulness of Emotions
starting to move and stretch in any way that feels good in this moment

And when you are ready
gently opening your eyes and coming back into the room
the meditation is now complete.