Tools for Emotional Pain
The first step in converting emotions is to take responsibility for what you are feeling. This is the start of expressing, releasing, and sharing the pain.
This exercise will require about 10 minutes of quiet time in a place where you are not likely to be disturbed. Begin by meditating for a few moments.
With your eyes closed, recall some event or situation in the past that was very upsetting to you. It may have been an argument, or some time when your feelings were hurt, or some random encounter that made you angry. Once you’ve settled on an upsetting situation, try to recall as many details about it as possible. Create a mental movie of exactly what happened.
The first step to dealing with the pain of this situation is to identify exactly what you are feeling. What word best describes how you feel because of this event or situation? Try to come up with a single word that encompasses as many of the feelings as possible, your best description. Now, focus on that word for a few seconds.
Let your attention gradually shift from that word to your body. What physical sensations are you feeling as a result of reliving that emotion? Every emotion has both mental and physical aspects that cannot be separated. Our feelings occur both in our minds and in our bodies at the same instant. Feel the sensations that this incident you are thinking about has created. Have your hands automatically clenched into fists? Do you feel a tightening of your stomach? A pain in your gut? Notice the physical experience of the emotion, and localize it to a specific spot on your body.
The next step is to express the feeling. Place your hand on the part of your body where you sense that the feeling is located. Out loud, say, “It hurts here.” If there is more than one location for the pain, touch each place and repeat the phrase, “It hurts here.”
For every emotional hurt, we have the power within us to make the pain disappear. Our reactions to external events localize in our bodies. We create emotions, which create physical pain. When we understand that simple fact, we can learn to change the way we respond to outside events. We can choose the way we react to incidents in the world.
Once the pain has been located and acknowledged, and after you’ve taken responsibility for it, you can release the pain. Place your attention on the part of your body where you are holding the pain. With ever exhalation of breath, have the intention of releasing that tension that you are holding. For half a minute, focus on releasing tension and pain with every breath. Let it go. Breathe it out.
The next step is to share the pain. Imagine that you could speak to the person who was involved in the incident that you have recalled for this exercise. What would you say to that person? As you consider this, remember that the person was not the true cause of your pain. You had the emotional reaction that manifested in physical pain.
Adapted from The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2003).