I said, "Feel anger."
When I tell people to feel what's real in the moment right now, they seem to register the words. But they don't seem to register that I actually mean it. Feel your anger. Yes. Feel. Your. Anger. Instead of repressing, instead of distracting yourself, instead of grinning-and-bearing-it, FEEL it. As it is. Accept the responsibility for feeling your own feelings. You don't have to do any action or reaction, unless you choose to. But just feel it. Having the knowledge gives you the option to choose an action if that's what's best. You can always choose not to act. But if you don't know what it is you are really feeling, you have no choices.
I said, "Speak Lies."
This one is a little unusual, and not in keeping with many meditation traditions, I do admit.I said, "Scream Real Loud."
In MBSR practice, self care is primary. This week's focus was on interpersonal relationships. In interpersonal relationships, creating proper boundaries is key for stress reduction. And there are some relationships where creating healthy boundaries can seem to be nearly impossible.
If you find yourself in a situation where a person is demanding something that you cannot give them, and they will not accept a truthful/sane response from you, your options are limited. My advice is to create an answer that 1) they will accept, and 2) is as close to the truth as possible.
If you find yourself in a situation where folks ask you what you do for a living you also have options. Saying one form of truth like "I am a therapist" might open up a situation where others expect you to give them free therapeutic counseling while you are on vacation. Another form of truth might be to say "I work at a homeless shelter." While that answer is also the truth, it creates different follow-up questions and other people are more likely to let you have the relaxed vacation that you need.
I don't usually scream. It's not a part of my daily life. But it did happen this week. I became really angry about a situation in my life that I wanted to change. And I felt it. I felt that anger. Directly and strongly. Anger. Once I felt the anger, and I knew what was going on for myself I then had a couple of options. One option that is available is to feel anger and find a creative outlet, like exercise or hitting a pillow. Another option is to choose to repress/ignore/distract for a while. That one might not be the healthiest at all times, but it is sometimes the best option available. There are countless other options once one is self aware. But the one I chose to take this week was to express my anger verbally. I was pretty sure that expressing this anger could create a new situation in my life that I want to create, a situation that will bring about more happiness in the long term, even if the short term results could be uncomfortable.
I didn't know of another way to communicate to the person I was angry with. I wanted to express to him the depth of anger that I was feeling. And the way that I did express this anger that needed to be expressed was to scream at the top of my lungs.
I hadn't intended to tell my meditation students about this event that happened in my personal life. But in class, one of my students asked me if I ever felt anger. My impression about the nature of her asking this question is that she had some ideal in her head about that Zen superpower thing that I mentioned already. I thought to myself, "She asked 'do I ever feel anger.' Of course I feel anger! Hmmmm. Maybe she's been listening to the words I say about feelings, but I have not yet made it clear that I am actually living this and experiencing what it is that I preach." So I told some of the details about the event, and before I knew it I was reenacting my screaming obscenities and pounding my fists on the table to the point where my students' books bounced around on the table. I have a feeling that the classrooms at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology haven't seen quite such a display before... But it was a beautiful teaching moment. I was able to communicate to my students that I am actually living this. And it is working for me. The mindfulness does give me the "superpower" of making choices that bring about meaningful changes towards a happier life with less stress.So, what I can now say about this week is this:
I did my best to keep it real.