"Strong emotions have been the order of the day recently. As the UK struggles to wake up to the possibility of life outside of the EU, we are all dealing with our own emotions – shock, anger, disbelief, fear, confusion. Many people may be feeling joy, if the result was in line with their wishes. In these situations we can get caught up in what is called ‘emotional contagion’. This is where we literally ‘catch’ other people’s emotions as though we were catching a virus. We get caught up in collective fear or anger. It works the same way with happiness, but sadly that seems to be in short supply just now.. " - get some practical support from an Edinburgh-based mindfulness expert Ashley Watson
Let’s begin by taking a few moments to notice how you’re feeling. How you’re truly feeling right in this moment. I invite you to take a few breaths – you don’t even need to close your eyes – and check in with how you’re doing right now. See if you can identify a thought or emotion and then spend a moment or two being curious about how your body is feeling. Is it holding this emotion somewhere – a clenched jaw, a sore back, a niggle in your left ankle perhaps? What was your experience of being invited to notice how you’re feeling? How would it be to accept whatever your experience is right now with needing it to be different?
We’re tuned out a lot of the time. Life happens, but often we’re not fully engaged with it because our minds are off replaying some past event or engaged in creating a future that hasn’t happened yet. Sometimes we’re too scared to tune in because then we may have to confront the strong emotions we might be feeling.
Strong emotions have been the order of the day recently. As the UK struggles to wake up to the possibility of life outside of the EU, we are all dealing with our own emotions – shock, anger, disbelief, fear, confusion. Many people may be feeling joy, if the result was in line with their wishes. But the general tone pervading conversations and the media is one of shock, anger and disbelief. In these situations we can get caught up in what is called ‘emotional contagion’. This is where we literally ‘catch’ other people’s emotions as though we were catching a virus. We get caught up in collective fear or anger. It works the same way with happiness, but sadly that seems to be in short supply just now.
I don’t have a cure, rather a suggestion that you pay attention and see if this is happening to you. Often a presenting emotion may be hiding another beneath it, for example anger may be hiding fear. If you acknowledge and accept that this is the case, then you can choose to work with the emotion – give it some gentle attention and see if what it may be teaching you.
I’m going to radically invite you to be kind to yourself if you are struggling at the moment. I often have difficulty persuading people that self-compassion is neither selfish nor self-indulgent. It is in fact quite the reverse, and essential for our mental and emotional well-being. Feeling fearful results from our fight or flight system in the body being triggered.
To activate our personal soothing system we can do things which we enjoy and find relaxing. Whether that involves treating yourself to a massage, going for a walk, listening to your favourite music, meditating or having a cup of tea with a good friend, we are taking care of our mental and emotional well-being. We begin to restore a sense of balance in to our lives and calm our threat system.
You may find it helpful to acknowledge that everything passes through. The way you are feeling at this moment will shift and change and other emotions will come along. This is part of our human experience – our challenge is to see if we can welcome all of our thoughts, feelings and emotions as ‘guests’ as Rumi describes in his poem ‘The Guest House’
Go forward into the summer paying gentle attention to your thoughts, enjoying the beauty all around you and being kind to yourself. You never know – it might be contagious.
Find out more on the Shiatsu Society website.
What is Shiatsu?
Shiatsu translates as ‘finger pressure’ and is based on traditional Japanese massage. Combining acupressure, massage, flowing movement and joint rotations helps to disperse tension, reduce pain, promote relaxation and healthy functioning of the body systems (circulation, breathing, digestion etc.). Shiatsu therapists are guided by their experience & knowledge of physiology and traditional Chinese medicine and apply pressure using fingers, thumbs, palms and elbows and combine it with other techniques.
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