Witnessing the Power of Emotions

Yesterday was an odd day. I woke up feeling odd, and that continued throughout the day. I say odd because that was the best way to describe it. I didn’t feel myself. Nothing particular was happening to bring on an odd feeling. Nothing had shifted overnight, no bad news, no impending disaster. I simply felt odd.

What was interesting about the day was that, instead of doing what I’d have done in the past, I managed to simply witness this odd feeling.

I had read a while ago that even if we feel a certain emotion we do not have to get attached to it. We can simply witness it and let it float on by. Only when we latch on does it stick.

So yesterday, with this in mind, I watched myself wanting to label this oddness with more specific things. First, I thought about labelling it depression. Big heavy word depression. As soon as I thought it, I could feel that it immediately made me feel terrible. As soon as depression got a hold, it looked around for lots of things to be depressed about. Had I let it, it would have gotten hold of me and stuck like glue. I felt if I had let it continue I could have been depressed for days or even weeks.

It was very interesting to watch this process happening. In Indian philosophy, these emotions that create drama in our lives are called samskaras. They are a part of us that the ego loves to use to be in control of life. What is sneaky about them is that they look for things to attach themselves to, so that they can play out the drama in our life. For example, we may have a samskara of anger, or depression, or jealousy. With each of these, the ego will identify things to justify the emotion, and then dive in deeply and we lose ourselves.

With this odd feeling yesterday, I watched my mind wanting to attach all kinds of labels and problems to it. With each one I simply went back to the thought – that I was just feeling odd. I did not need to know why I felt odd. I did not need to find something that was wrong in my life. I did not need to look around for a person who may have upset me. I was simply feeling odd.

By just witnessing the feeling, I managed to not let any samskara latch on, and I ended the day just feeling odd, the same way I felt when I woke up. I went to sleep wondering how I’d feel the next day.

When I woke up this morning, I felt fine. Not a drop of oddness in sight. It felt really good. I had proved to myself that when I don’t let a samskara take hold and spiral me downwards, it does, in fact, move on  quickly. Quite a revelation.

We often think,  when we feel a bit odd, that we have to solve it, do something to make ourselves feel better, get out of it. Instead, I suggest you simply observe the feeling. Let it be. Do not judge it as anything bad. These things only feel bad when we judge them to be so. Simply see that it is how you are feeling today. Be vigilant to ensure that you do not get attached to the feeling, letting it run wild.

This works because not only are we not making the whole thing worse by assigning meaning to a feeling, but we are also not fighting it. As we know, what we resist will persist.

By letting it be, it can flow out of us much more quickly and we can come back to feeling ourselves again. Let the negative emotion float across the sky of your life, in that way the rain-storm will not land on your head.

Jessica McGregor Johnson, an international speaker, guide & mentor and author of “The Right T-Shirt, Write Your Own Rules and Live the Life You Want” and “Remembering Perfection – Everyday Inspiration for Living Your Spiritually”. She helps people who are at a crossroads in their life who know that there must be more meaning than they currently feel. Working with her they discover themselves anew, identify their true passions, and how live them, whether it be in their work or personal life. You can read the first two chapter of her book here.