What should you do in minutes when you feel uncomfortable and edgy, but you are not quite sure why or what to do about it? In this article, you’ll learn a simple technique to get to the heart of what you’re feeling and discover the message inside, so that you can take action to move ahead.
Do you distract yourself by focusing on something else? Do you examine it until you think of a story which makes sense?
All these are natural inclinations that can have value. Yet they may also perpetuate the recurrence of this exact same feeling again and again. We tend to think our stories and tell them again and again, so our life replays in a self-fulfilling loop.
So, what can you do in such awkward moments which would change things, guide you forward, and start something new? Here’s a simple technique called Accessing Your Mental Centerline.
The minute you notice yourself feeling edgy and uncomfortable, instead of leaping into analyzing it and coming up with a story to explain it, see if you’re able to just sit with the feeling, be present with it, and get underneath it.
1. Add a mental pause, let go of believing, and focus on the sensations along your Emotional Centerline: out of your neck, through the middle of your chest, into your lower abdomen. Putting your palms together in prayer position, as in the picture above, will help you tune into this centerline. Focusing on sensations along your Mental Centerline quiets the thinking mind and enables you to get your emotions without the baggage of intense storylines.
Inquire into the specific sensations in this area of your body. Is it tight, compressed, blocked, hard, hot, cold, numb, pierced, deflated, sinking, empty, raw, tingly, fluttering, climbing…?
2. Pay attention to these sensations mindfully. To put it differently, see if it’s possible to take the sensations completely, unconditionally, and non-judgmentally. See if you can get familiar with the felt sensation without telling a story about it or being consumed by it.
3. See if you can label the specific feeling the sensation represents. You’ll feel a”yes” when you have the ideal label. Is it anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, joy, enthusiasm,…?
4. As soon as you’ve identified the emotion you’re feeling, ask what it is prompting you to do. Focus into the sensation along your Emotional Centerline and address your query here. Notice what comes into your consciousness. It might be a nonverbal knowing, specific words, an image, a song, or an inspiration to do, say, or feel something… Just notice what arises, stay with it, and let it grow in clarity.
If nothing arises in this moment, see if you can maintain an awareness of your Emotional Centerline as you go about your day. Notice what you become aware of as you do that.
As you practice these four steps again and again, you will discover you can catch yourself before you get too deeply entrenched in embarrassing, edgy feelings or overly-identified with your usual stories about what they mean. You’ll discover there’s a deeper guidance under the surface of your emotions. Emotional intelligence cuts through mental chatter and speaks to the essence of everything you will need to do in this moment. Sometimes this wisdom is vastly different from the tales your mind is in the habit of telling.