mindfulness feelingsAll else being equal, feelings are not a problem. Positive or negative, they come, they go. Feelings are meant to flow.

The real problem with feelings is identifying with them.

When you identify with your feelings, you get caught up in them. Rather than standing on the side of the river watching the water go by, you end up being swept away in the rapids.

Getting swept away by your feelings is a much bigger issue than the feelings themselves.

This is a longstanding tenet of mindfulness practice. When you become your feelings, they take control and dictate your words and actions.

How can you experience your feelings and not get swept away by them?

Practice mindfulness until you have this important ability. Imagine experiencing your feelings, especially the negative emotions, without being thrown off center.

You can know what’s bothering you, feel it, and also maintain control of yourself. Would that make a difference in your life?

The sooner you start your mindfulness practice, the better. Even if you spend a mere five minutes a day, your skills will inevitably grow until the day arrives when you can be present with your inner feelings, regardless of what they are, and be OK.

Here’s one way to begin:

1. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes.

2. Sit or lie down and focus on your breath. Count 10 breaths. Relax.

3. Place your attention on your solar plexus and notice what you’re feeling. Keep your attention on any sensations, positive or negative. Remember that these are just sensations in your solar plexus. They aren’t who you are. They are mere feelings located in one part of your body. Pay attention – observe with acceptance – to these sensations until the timer goes off.

4. Take another deep breath, clear your mind and move on with your day.

Of course, you can use this process while paying attention to any area of your body.

Don’t expect miracles in your first session. Expect them over time as your skill advances. Invest the time – day in and day out – and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run and for the rest of your life.

If you think mindfulness can help you, follow Mindfulness Advice on Facebook and @mindfulnessmike.