The chatter of the mind is never more noticeable than when you are bombarded with unwanted thoughts or feelings that create conflict within you. A simple thought can sprout into dozens of hypothetical stories in the mind that leave you fearful, overwhelmed or confused. Better yet, an emotional reaction you have to a situation can fester for days, completely distracting you from enjoying life.
This invisible clutter wastes your energy, leaving you exhausted both physically and mentally. If unaddressed, unwanted thoughts and feelings may create a negative attitude toward life, and even bring about mental and physical illness. That’s why letting go of these negative manifestations of the mind is essential to true contentment.
The common definition of meditation is that it is a state of not thinking. Although this may be an attractive idea, the reality is that for most of us, not thinking is an unlikely prospect. As soon as we sit down to meditate, the mind goes berserk!
Therefore, let’s look at meditation differently. Look at this time of sitting in stillness as an opportunity to become mindful of your thoughts and feelings.
By noticing which thoughts present themselves most frequently, you start to separate yourself from them. Then, you can observe how these thoughts change, grow, move on and come back. Consequently, you discover that nothing in the mind is static, so you less easily become overwhelmed by negative thoughts. You learn how to take a step away from the thoughts, so you don’t become buried in the destructive stories in the mind.
Furthermore, mindfulness meditation is an opportunity to recognize how your feelings and emotions arise. When you give your time to sit and do nothing, you start to notice how events, memories and expectations affect how you feel. You start to see patterns in how you react to certain events or people in your life. This teaches you more control over emotions because you notice your habitual reactions. Thus, you break free from living on automatic pilot.
If you want to use mindfulness meditation to release unwanted thoughts or emotions, then consistency is key. The best way to stay consistent is to set realistic goals (i.e. only 10 or 15 minutes per day) and attempt to meditate every day at the same time (i.e. right after you roll out of bed).
Furthermore, keeping track of your meditations can help you be more consistent. There are many effective tools that can help track your meditation practice, such as Acer’s Leap Beads bracelet and smartphone app.
Meditation can be practiced in many different ways. Not everyone can sit in stillness or has access to a quiet place. Also, you may be so drained by an emotion or thought pattern, last thing you want to do is give it your purposeful attention. Finally, you may be too tired to meditate while sitting in stillness.
This is when a meditation that investigates physical sensations may be a better fit. You will still work on concentrating your mind, but this time your focus is on a physical sensation. A very popular way to do this is to practice a slow walking meditation. During the walk, you focus on the sensations of your feet connecting to the earth. Hence, it is beneficial to practice this type of meditation barefoot. In you need more motivation to stick with your practice, you can use a product like Acer’s Leap Beads to track your meditation time AND your steps!
Another option is to use mala beads when you’re meditating while sitting. The focus then becomes the sensations on the fingers as they move from bead to bead. Traditionally, Buddhist monks used mala beads to count their mantras. This is typically a word or phrase you repeat, like an affirmation.
You may choose to repeat a positive mantra when meditating with mala beads, such as “I am enough” or “This too shall pass.” Just remember to pick a word or phrase that resonates with you and comes from a place of acceptance and compassion.
A body meditation can even be as simple as slowly preparing, smelling and then tasting a hot tea. Whichever method you choose, the goal is to focus on a sensation in the body. The more you start working to concentrate and control your focus, the more aware you become of mind chatter. You realize that you have the choice to pick your thoughts and emotional reactions.
When you’re overwhelmed with a certain emotion, or are buried in a thought patterns, you may just need to work it out! There’s something to be said for physical exhaustion, and the effect that this state has on our mental well-being. Similarly, when you’re overwhelmed with emotion, sometimes you just need to work that energy out your tissues.
If what you are dealing with is very short-lived but acute, then a some high-intensity exercise may be best, like a Zumba class, a swim or a run. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a negative thought or feeling that is a persistent stressor, you may need more than a quick workout.
If you are trapped in negative thought patterns (i.e. “I’m never going to be as successful as…), then you end up suffering unnecessarily. Not just in the mind! You may experience problems such as chest tightness, back or abdominal ailments, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, illness, etc.
In addition to physical manifestations of negativity, the energetic body also responds. Over time, it may become more difficult to express loving emotions and show compassion, not just to others but also to yourself.
In these cases, it may be best to commit to a regular exercise routine that focuses on releasing blocked energy out of your body’s tissues. Examples include practices such as yoga and qi gong, as they help move the body’s energy blockages. In addition, these types of practices allow you to integrate mindfulness meditation into your exercise session.
Emotional Freedom Technique
Here’s another simple technique that may help you deal with unwanted thoughts and feelings as they come up. It is called emotional freedom technique (EFT), aka tapping.
It’s founded on the same idea as acupuncture. You can treat energetic blockages by stimulating certain acupressure points around the body. This, then, translates into more optimum health. There is one big difference though: Instead of someone working on you, YOU are doing the work yourself.
Some of the most common areas to tap during an EFT session are around the head, upper torso and hands. For example, you can tap on the top of the head, center of the forehead, temples, lower part of the eye socket, and above the upper lip. As well, it’s common to tap around the upper chest and on the side ribs below the armpit.
Another component of tapping is verbal. Basically, you create a compassionate dialog with yourself. First, you verbalize what is bothering you and exactly how you feel. Don’t hold back! You are basically giving yourself permission to feel like you do, without feeling guilty or wrong.
Next, you start to emphasize how you want to feel, recognizing that feelings change just like thoughts. You verbalize what you want to let go of and affirm that you are capable to doing so. Finally, you finish with a compassionate affirmation of self-acceptance, love and forgiveness.
At first tapping may seem silly, but it can be a powerful method to lower stress. Science has shown that EFT can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers have also shown that it helps with conditions such as PTSD.
If you’re in a situation that’s creating an internal disturbance within you, then sit and tap. It is essentially free, with many online EFT video resources.
You also don’t need a special place to practice EFT. If you have road rage, pull over and sit in your car at the side of the road, tapping. You can sneak into the bathroom or bedroom, and tap. Only 10 minutes at a time can make a difference.
Mindfulness meditation can help you recognize when you’re reacting to a situation or person unproductively or negatively. Tapping is quite complimentary. It is a great way to get these unwanted thoughts and emotions out of your body before they completely take over the mind.
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
This article (4 Simple, Effective Ways to Release Unwanted Thoughts and Feelings) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.