This past fall, I participated in a 9-week mindfulness experience led by a colleague that was based on The Inner Matrix by Joey Klein. While I’ve been practicing various forms of mindfulness for years (such as participating in restorative yoga, journaling my thoughts/feelings, taking gratitude pauses and mindful minutes), I’ve only dabbled in meditation. The class provided the perfect opportunity to experiment with regular meditation, as it required meditating for 20 minutes every day to maximize the benefits.
The greatest gift of this meditation experience was the opportunity to see my mind, how active it is, how it never stops, how irrational it can me, how it’s always actively responding, how it tries to protect me from perceived threats, how it moves in deeply ingrained patterns. The experience also strengthened my emotional awareness, although I feel there’s more work for me to do in this space. I want to better recognize my emotions, name them, sit with them, without resistance or judgment, just let them be, to move with them as they flow like waves that come and go.
So greater emotional awareness is my personal challenge for 2016. I’m not entirely sure if I’m after feeling more, or just greater awareness of what I’m feeling. I want to open to the intensity of my emotions, not massage and pacify them so I can accept them or feel others will accept them. I want to understand how my feelings result from needs I have that are or are not met. I want to recognize my own emotions so that I can recognize those of others more clearly, making me more empathetic and compassionate.
Awareness is the foundation for any kind of change. We cannot move toward something different if we are not aware of what’s true in the present moment. There is such wisdom if we listen to what’s going on inside, if we open to our personal experience of the world. My hope is that this tuning in will help me enhance my self-awareness, enable richer self-expression, support stronger interpersonal relationships, make me better at managing stress, and allow me to make less impulsive decisions.
I’ll use a technique from The Inner Matrix:
- Pause several times a day to ask myself: What emotional state am I experiencing?
- Look inside to see what I find. *
- Once identified, I will state (out loud if I’m in the privacy of my home office and in my head if I’m in a public place): In this moment, I am feeling ________________. And that is OK. It is a natural human expression.
* If needed, I will reference The Emotional Scale that my friend Blair introduced me to years ago and one of the online Feelings Inventories (such as THIS ONE) to help me put a name to what I am feeling.
Our emotions remind us we are alive, of our humanity. They shape us, sometimes like rough sandpaper, and other times like the softest silk, against our tender skin. To feel how alive and awake I can be, to feel and experience the richness of the moments that string together my life, to be in ever more integrity with who I am – that’s my intention as I move into the new year.
- What intention do you want to lean into this year?
- Why is it important to you?
- What path will you take?
- What choices do you need to make?
- Who and what will support you?
I always end the year some place that inspires reflection and that encourages visualizing the life I want to lead. That happens to be a sunny warm place of surf and sand, specifically San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico. Again this year a poem was inspired – this one about going to the deepest places – like into our feelings and emotions – to find the riches that lie there in store. (Other poems inspired by this lovely place include A New Day and A Prayer for You. These New Year Guiding Principles also arose during my quiet reflective time there.)
For more photos from my most recent trip to San Agustinillo, CLICK HERE.