Managing negative thoughts and emotions can be extremely challenging. We believe that these feelings that come up during negative moments are real. We may even take action upon the ruminating thoughts and emotions in ways that don’t serve us at all. This is not the way. Letting negative thoughts and feelings take over your life means you’re not living in truth because these thoughts aren’t your reality.
Turning negative thoughts around to make more positive thoughts is one way to manage negative feelings but what truly sets you free is being mindful. Feeling your way through the feelings and asking yourself honestly, “Who is feeling this?” is what will bring you back to center.
Here are 10 mindfulness practices that can help you to manage negative thoughts and emotions.
Breathe for Mindfulness
Mindfulness may take some time to hone. Most of us aren’t used to just being in a moment comfortably so sometimes we need to pay attention to other things. One of the best ways to introduce the body and mind into mindfulness is to pay attention to your breathing. When you focus on your breathing, it becomes a bigger part of you. Breathing into your belly is deeply relaxing and can help center you. As you begin to relax and focus more on your breathing, you can then let go of the negative thoughts. You may find that the brain resists but just let them go and keep on being mindful of the breath as it comes in and out.
You may find your mind wandering away from your breath. A great technique to keep the focus on your breath is Capturing the Uncaught Mind.
Focus on an Object
There are some objects that may invoke a sense of peace in you. Maybe it’s a candle flame or a statue of your favorite deity that reminds you of your true self. Sit in a comfortable meditation posture in front of the object and focus on the object. What does it make you feel? Let it give you the power to let go of the thoughts in your head that aren’t serving you.
Be the Witness
Your ego mind is the source of the negative emotions that come up. This is where your sadness, worry, and anger come from. You have a higher self though – and when you call on your higher self you can quiet down your ego mind. Your higher consciousness is what witnesses your psyche.
The psyche or ego is designed to protect you by looking at the past to manage your current situation. While this is great for survival, it doesn’t help when we are not in a life or death situation. When we are stuck in this mode, we are not letting life flow. It can also be a source of damaging thoughts.
When you notice the voice of your ego wanting to take control, consciously say, “hello”. You are saying it but you are also hearing it. The one who hears it is the ego, the one who says it is you, the higher consciousness. Use this higher part of yourself to look into the ego and quiet it down. This is a very deep, mindful practice but a beautiful one.
Play an Instrument
Playing an instrument can put you in a deep meditative state. You are focusing on playing the music in all it’s complexity as well as enjoying the music you have created. Even just a drum circle can be a deep mindfulness practice that can rejuvenate your soul. The music you create and the fun you have creating it should greatly help to negate bad thoughts.
Watch a Sunset
It’s not just about watching a sunset but about the appreciation of life’s natural beauty. When you appreciate your surroundings, you are living in this beautiful moment. If you notice certain thought spoiling the moment you’re in, readjust and look deeper into the beauty that’s all around you.
Place Your Hand on Your Heart
When you’re feeling negative, it’s not always easy to just let things go. Offering self-love goes a long way in dissolving negative feelings. Just acknowledging that your heart hurts can allow you to find the tenderness within – as opposed to anxiety about something unknown.
Put your hand on your heart and mindfully look into what the true source of the problem is. When you can open your heart up, anxiety and fear have no space to breathe.
Do a Body Scan
Negative feelings also affect your body. You may even feel pain in certain areas. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, you can literally feel pain in your heart. Doing a body scan and putting your hand on the spaces that feel tension can help you to release them. It’s about being mindful about what you feel in your body as well as the mind. This is a good practice to see where the negativity sits in the body and helps you to release it – call it shining a light on the darkness!
Find Nourishment Through Cooking
When you cook in a mindful way you’re focusing only on the joyous task of making food to nurture yourself and others. It’s easy to get immersed in the task of cooking and forget about any difficult thoughts. The smells, tastes, and the way the food feels will take you out of your mind and into your senses – automatically helping you feel better.
Take a Walk
You can walk in a mindful way that is very powerful. As you walk all the time, you may not appreciate all that is involved in walking. When you feel the muscles that are working, when you see how your feet look as you put one in front of the other, you can become totally enraptured in the workings of your own body. This brings things back to you and what really matters. This type of walking is called Attentive Walking and it is a great mindfulness practice that you can do on a regular basis. You can also try this beautiful Walking Meditation.
Read also: Is Walking the Way to Enlightenment?
Practice Restorative Yoga
Any kind of yoga is well aligned with enhancing your mindfulness practice. Nice, slow yoga practices really allow you to feel your body. Get into some poses that you can stay into for a while and focus on the slow stretching you’re experiencing. Allow yourself to just be in the pose and feel free to meditate while you’re in the midst of it.
Yes, negative thoughts and feelings will arise from time to time. Don’t try to push it down or get away from it. Mindfulness allows you to take a peek at the true source of your suffering, acknowledge it, and let it go.
Read also: Controlling Emotions with Yoga
Photo: Lesly Juarez