How to transform uncomfortable feelings

I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and agitated. By the time I'd had a shower and got dressed, I was positively boiling over with tension.

I put two blocks on my yoga mat, sat down and closed my eyes. Almost immediately, a phrase rose up:

"I feel overwhelmed right now, and that's ok."

I don't know where that came from, but it felt good and helpful. So I just sat there some more, repeating this phrase and letting it go wherever it wanted to go.

"I feel frustrated right now, and that's ok."
"I'm angry at blah blah right now, and that's ok."
"There's tension in my head right now, and that's ok."
"My breath feels tight right now, and that's ok."

As I sat on my mat, giving voice and acceptance to whatever I was experiencing in that moment, the feelings and sensations began to transform, giving way to calm, peace and stillness.

It has been my ongoing experience that we can't rid ourselves of uncomfortable feelings and emotions by resisting and fighting them. Instead, what always seems helpful is to give space to whatever's there and embrace it with as much love and gentleness as we can muster.

I didn't feel any need in those moments this morning to go into the reasons why I was feeling the way I was. I've learned that digging into the why is almost always a misleading path to follow. 

To say I'm feeling overwhelmed because there are too many things calling for my attention is to be under the illusion that external circumstances create my experience of life. Because I repeatedly notice that I can feel a multitude of different ways in the midst of the same external circumstance, I know that my experience can only ever be generated by my thinking in that moment.

I only have to look at my experience this morning to see the truth of that. As the feelings transformed, the external circumstances of my life were exactly the same as they were the moment I'd sat down. The change was in the thinking that was entering the system.

It's a normal response to want to avoid, turn away from and resist uncomfortable feelings. But the words of my acting teacher ring eternally true:

"What you resist persists."

In the soft embrace of whatever uncomfortable feeling is showing up right now, you can be sure that sooner or later it will give way to something new. The giving way might be quick or slow. No matter. Hurrying the feelings along is just more resistance. Instead, let everything stay as long as it wishes. In the space of you, there's room for it all. 

Love and courage,