This article was published by the National Childbirth Trust Newsletter:
One of my favourite psychotherapists, Roberto Assagioli, used various techniques to discourage his patients from being too caught up or identified with emotions and thoughts.
The idea is that by stepping back from our own personal experience we can prevent much psychological and emotional unease.
Imagine for a moment that the pages of this newsletter are your thoughts and feelings.
Now raise the newsletter slowly towards your face. Notice how it affects your view of the world as it gets closer and closer until it is right up in front of your eyes.
When we are completely caught up with our thoughts, feelings and even body sensations we miss out on the richness of life and stop being in the present moment.
If I go about my life identified with the thought / feeling “I am fed up” as an example, I will relate to people and events in ways that reinforce that thought. I won’t see things clearly so will most likely miss out on evidence to the contrary: unable to enjoy situations where I am not “fed up”.
This isn’t about repressing thoughts and emotions nor pushing them away. When we use control methods to “get rid” of thoughts we often intensify the struggle.
Imagine going around all day with your view obscured by these thoughts and feelings.
How might it affect the way you behave towards others? What might you be missing out on? How might it influence the way you relate to your child?
Imagine you remove the newsletter from your face and let’s say, place it in your pocket instead, it doesn’t mean that the thoughts and feelings aren’t there anymore but now you can go about your life with more freedom, clarity and purpose. You might bring it out now and again, and you can feel its weight in your pocket but it will no longer seriously hinder your ability to be present and connect to the world.
Practise acceptance, curiosity and compassion every time you feel you are getting caught up in a thought pattern or strong emotion and observe how the experience will shift and change until it eventually leaves - if even for a while.
The poet Rumi said “This being human is a guest house, every morning a new arrival”.
So go ahead and greet thoughts and emotions like guests but do not allow them outstay their welcome.