Releasing Emotional Reactions 1

This clip was selected and transcribed by Tracy Ormond!

This is the first step of a Five-Step Mindfulness Practice.

RER Phase One (from RER 02: Releasing Emotional Reactions (retreat) 00:22:49.60 - 00:26:00.10)

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So the first phase is, "Breathing in I experience this," and I am going to use the word feeling, but it could be emotion, it could be pain, it could be problems, and you just fill in the blank. So let's just do that.
You take this and you say, "Breathing in I feel this pain." Breathe in. "Breathing out I feel this pain." With each breath, "Breathing in I feel this pain, breathing out I feel this pain."

Now, in the beginning, depending what you have chosen, that may be a bit like a hot potato. So there are two methods I've found that can at least get us in touch with it to some extend. The first is: "Okay, that's too hot, too difficult, too much for my capacity of attention at this point." So experience one tenth of it, or one hundredth, or one thousandth. And that approach works for some people. For other people, they find it more helpful to think, "Well that's too close, if I put it on the other side of the room, well, maybe on the other side of town." So it's a safe distance away, but still in one's awareness.
So the first step is just to bring it into awareness, either a small piece of it or at a proximity that you can handle. And that's for you to determine in your own practice. So set it up that way, whatever is appropriate for you, we go back to phase one. "Breathing in, I experience this pain, breathing out..." and imagine holding the pain tenderly in your attention. Which means that you're not going to do anything to it. And you're not trying to get anything from it. You're just holding it, and you are holding it very, very gently.

Some background info--the following is a comment made by Ken in response to a question asked by Michael, who was working on translating this practice into German:
"The crucial point is in Michael's last comment: 'To use these meditation instructions it is not necessary to feel pain. It can be an emotion or a problem which may be experienced as a kind of imbalance for example, rather than pain. And even an imbalance can make patterns run.'

This meditation is for working with reactions, those seemingly automatic processes that just run and throw us into confusion and lead us to do things we wouldn't do if we were clearer and more responsive. Reactions can be blissful or painful, though usually the latter. Think of falling in love (a blissful reaction, frequently) or the anger that arises when love is not returned.

The aim is to experience what is arising as completely as possible. In English, to give an idea of the range of experiences, I use "reaction, pain, problem, issue, difficulty, etc.". Basically, it covers anything that we can't experience for any reason."
In teaching people, I give them this meditation whenever people are encountering something that prevents them from resting. If one can rest, then one rests and lets the resting deepen on its own. When one encounters something difficult, then more specific effort and attention, as in this practice, can help.