20th July 2015
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Guess what The Beatles, Buddha and the brain have in common? Here are some clues:
It really worked for the Beatles, making them even more successful than before… Buddha said if you want to find peace in meditation, you should do this with any thought that comes into mind… You can reprogram your brain if you do this when an unwanted or unpleasant emotion or sensation comes up…
The answer to all 3… Let it be!
Are you obsessing over something you know is just a waste of your valuable time? Does your back seem to act up whenever you do something that most people can do easily, and neither doctors nor therapists can help? Are you having trouble getting over a break-up that you know had to happen? All of these conditions can be helped by applying that little phrase mentioned above. In this article I’ll describe why and how we should let uncomfortable emotions “be” if we wish to be rid of them.
The Composition of Sensations
In his book “Letting Go, The Pathway to Surrender“, Dr. David Hawkins (M.D. Ph.D.) writes that each emotion, or feeling is connected to, or can produce a multitude of thoughts. When we feel something, it brings to mind opinions, memories etc. One example could be sadness over a breakup. You see a picture of your recent ex on Facebook. You feel a sinking in your stomach. You feel sad. You focus on that emotion and the feeling in your gut. You start to go back in your mind to the day you broke up. You start analyzing how your ex behaved. You start analyzing how you behaved. You start feeling tension in your neck. You start to wonder if you have made a mistake even though it was very clear that neither of you were happy in the relationship. You start thinking of the good times. You picture their smile and break into tears… I think you see what I’m getting at here.
You can find yourself going down a long dark path towards an exaggerated negative sensation, with a brand new bit of baggage attached to the feeling. Two things may happen because you’ve allowed yourself to go down the path and added the baggage: 1) the next time you think of the relationship, that negative path may be easier to access. 2) the feeling you experience may be even heavier the next time.
The above example was based on the emotions, but remarkably, the same can be true for uncomfortable physical sensations. I had years of back pain that would flare up in certain situations more than in others. For example, I had been told that sitting for long periods of time could cause my herniated disks to jut further beyond my spine. After hearing those cautionary words, I gradually became less and less able to sit without extreme pain swelling up in my back. When I felt the pain, the sensation took all my attention and I was drawn into fearful thoughts that I would do damage to myself. From there the pain just got worse.
Going back to Dr. Hawkins, he says that when we don’t react to a feeling (when we just let it be), we don’t allow ourselves to analyze it, attach new thoughts to it, or bring old thoughts back in to reinforce it. When the feeling is just acknowledged in a completely non-judgemental way, it will not produce more thoughts and it will pass much more quickly, as the mind is not actively doing anything with it. When dealing with unnecessary unpleasant feelings (emotional or physical), this is what we want. We want them to go away so we can get back to living.
Make Sure You Don’t Need to Address the Issue Further
The very first step is to KNOW, to be convinced that focus on the issue is not going to help. If you think you need to think about the emotional issue more, set aside some concrete time to consider it; it will be even more productive if you have a pen and paper to see things clearly. If you haven’t been to a doctor to get a proper check up concerning your physical symptoms, do so; if the doctor says there is nothing s/he can do about it, then it’s time to use the following technique.
How to Resist Getting Drawn into the Negative Emotion or Sensation
Very simply, we can use the unwanted feeling as a cue to consciously take a series of slow, deep, relaxing breaths. This allows time for the unnecessary negative thoughts to be intercepted by something vital and positive. With many of my clients, I suggest 20 deep, mindful breaths with inhalations of 5 seconds and exhalations of 5 seconds. Positive affirmations on the exhalations can help as well. In the context of a breakup it could be “I’m getting over this”. Concerning my back, it was only when I built up the courage to ignore the back pain and take the breaths that it started to come back less severely and then disappear for good. My affirmation was, “my back is fine”. Ignoring pain can be scary and a hard call, but working with a good doctor and listening to your own inner wisdom will make it possible.
So in the end, once we are convinced that these emotions and sensations are counter-productive, we can start “letting them be”. When we do this, when the feeling comes back it will be seen as less important by the brain because there was no weight added to it. This takes determination and can take a while to happen, but once the habit is formed, life becomes lighter and less painful on either emotional or physical levels.
To your health
Previous articles by Paul Brundtland:
- Waking? Insomnia? Simple Tips to Help You Fall Back to Sleep
- Perfectionism and Fear: The Emotion Behind Getting it Just Right
About the author:
Paul Brundtland is a mind/body educator, coach and writer living in Montpellier France. Combining his own healing experience with university studies in psychology, yoga teacher training, and 10 years of research, Paul has coached many people through issues such as chronic back and neck pain, allergies, skin problems, eating disorders, general tension and compulsive negative thoughts. “I work with people to help them rid themselves of mental and physical blocks that impede their best functioning. Once removed, the body and mind begin to act as they naturally are designed to”. Author of the short book My Lasting Relief from Chronic Pain, Paul offers private coaching (in English, French or Spanish) and group mindbody training sessions.
Main Image: Let It Be by Graciegra.