Tools for Emotional Regulation – Steps in Embodiment practice

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Emotional exploration

Understanding what a particular emotion feels like in the body helps us to become aware of the onset of the emotion and be comfortable with those sensations. This awareness helps us recognize and label the emotion before it spirals out of control. Redirecting our thoughts to our bodily sensations helps us manage our emotions better and gain control over our resulting behavior. It allows us  the space to respond appropriately rather than react instinctively.

The process given below will serve as a guide to practice embodiment when we realize that an emotion is taking hold of our minds. For this practice, we will focus on the emotion of fear.

Understanding what a particular emotion feels like in the body helps us to become aware of the onset of the emotion and be comfortable with those sensations. This awareness helps us recognize and label the emotion before it spirals out of control. Redirecting our thoughts to our bodily sensations helps us manage our emotions better and gain control over our resulting behavior. It allows us  the space to respond appropriately rather than react instinctively.

The process given below will serve as a guide to practice embodiment when we realize that an emotion is taking hold of our minds. For this practice, we will focus on the emotion of fear.

Steps in the Process

Find a quiet space. Sit in silence. Make yourself comfortable in an upright position, hands relaxed in your lap. The stance will be meditative. Close your eyes gently. Make sure the eyelids are place softly over the eyeballs. Scan your body for any areas of discomfort and relax any stiff areas.

Step 1: Take three deep breaths preparing to start the process of Embodiment. Fill the lungs with air as you inhale. With each exhale, release the breath completely. If you are going through a time that evokes for example fear, visualize the scene and the fear inducing situation. Notice any other emotions you may be feeling such as anger, disgust, ego, jealousy.

Step 2: Now move your attention to your bodily sensations – Notice where you feel the sensations.

Step 3: Identify those sensations – Heaviness, tightness, tingling, heat, cold, throbbing, shivering, pressure, tension. Stay with the sensations. If your mind brings up thoughts, just tell yourself “Thinking” and bring your attention back to the bodily sensations. Observe the thoughts that come up but try not to get caught up in them. If you realize that you are getting caught up, bring your focus back to the bodily sensations. The idea is to prevent the mind from building up the storyline and making the emotion more intense. Focusing on bodily sensations dissipates the tension one feels and eases the emotion out, preventing us from “acting out” and doing something we might regret. Instead calming the mind will help us respond more appropriately and in a manner that is beneficial to us.

Step 4: Relax with the sensations directing each exhale to the tightness or tensions. As you continue to do this you will notice a release of the emotion and an emotional lightness.

Step 5: understand that you are going throes of an emotion and direct some compassion toward your “afraid self” – saying “Everyone feels this. Feeling like this is completely normal. Do not be harsh with yourself or judge yourself for what you are feeling. Offer yourself whatever it is you need at that time – a smile, a hug, a pat on the back. Visualize a friend or loved one being near you and giving you a hug.

Stay with this practice as long as you need to. When you feel lighter and relaxed, take three deep breaths. Bring your attention to the normal everyday sounds around you and gently open your eyes with a few blinks.

When you are done with the Mindfulness practice, use the template below to write down your experience by recoding the bodily changes that you noticed, any thoughts you may have registered and the emotions you felt during the practice.

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