Emotions as messengers
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I don’t watch much TV but one show I have loved from the very beginning is Offspring. It was this show that introduced me to one of Australia’s great actors and comedians, Celia Pacquola who graced the cover of last Sunday Age’s The Sunday Life magazine. In the article enclosed about her, Celia shares her battle with anxiety and depression. While I enjoyed reading the whole article, I found a couple of sentences particularly powerful which I wanted to share.
She says “I’ve learnt now, unfortunately, that it is something you manage rather than cure, which is thoroughly annoying because when you’re in a good place you’re like, “I’m fine, I’m fixed, I can do whatever I want now! And then it gets bad again. I’m getting better at seeing it, trying to pull it up before it gets too bad.”
Most people who sign up to these courses are motivated and driven to improve their health and wellbeing (it is rather ironic that the focus of these courses is learning to just be rather than do – now, that’s the focus of another post!). They are generally bright, curious and highly functioning people, workers, leaders, managers across a range of industries and professional backgrounds. A lot of them are stressed to the max, and are looking for a way to remove their anxiety and/or depression that follows as a result of their stress. What many realise is that the courses are about learning to be with and relate to the thoughts, emotions and body sensations that accompany their anxiety and depression, rather than removing them. When they become more aware of their thoughts, emotions and body sensations, these can act as powerful messengers and warning signs that we need to slow down, recharge, and/or create space in the day to nourish the soul by meditation, doing yoga, watching a movie or going for a walk. Melbourne Meditation Centre recently wrote a wonderful article on relating to our emotions which are one aspect of our experience – I highly recommend you have a read here.
In Week 7 of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, participants are asked to consider their own early warning signs that indicate stress is taking over (Celia – take note, I think you’d enjoy this week of the course!). They are then asked to list their daily activities and note next to each one whether the activity is nourishing or draining. In identifying which activities actually nourish and drain us (as opposed to the activities we think should nourish or drain us), we are better positioned to make skillful decisions about use of our time to help with ease of being.
If you have time this week, try this ‘nourishing and draining’ exercise. What changes do you make to your life as a result?