How to I sit with my feelings?

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So you’ve got the practical side of sitting with your feelings sorted, but, how do you sit and feel things?

There are a few hurdles I’ve experienced when trying to sit with my feelings:

  • What do I do? Just sit there? Meditate? Chant? Write?
  • What do I feel? What if I don’t feel anything?
  • What’s the end goal?

So I thought I’d work through a few of these to share how I’ve got into this habit.

What do I do?

You can do what feels right. Sometimes it’s sitting in the quiet, letting your brain wander and see what bubbles to the surface. You can meditate, if you want to. There are guided meditations online you can follow. You can do moving meditation, ideally a repetitive, simple action so you keep your body moving, but your brain can wander (walking is a favourite of mine, you can do colouring, doodling, etc). You can play music (make it quiet and nothing with lyrics, nothing that would take your focus away from your feelings). The idea is to do the opposite of distracting yourself from your feelings, which in and of itself can be uncomfortable

What do I feel?

Again, this will be dependant on you, and what comes up in your session. The idea is to let your feelings bubble to the surface and let them exist. Your body will know how to feel your feelings, you just need to get out of it’s way. Try not to shy away from difficult feelings, try not to think about how you ‘should’ feel, just let it happen.
If you don’t feel anything, or are unsure how you’re feeling, that’s fine. Focus on how you feel physically. Are you clenching muscles, do you have the urge to fidget, maybe you want to shout. It’s all okay, you just need to experience it, and try not to push them away.

What’s the end goal?

Sitting with your feelings. Trying to experience feelings and not push them away, especially if they’re difficult. At the end of the session, you can note down any patterns or strong feelings you noticed. Did you struggle to not think about things you need to do? Did you find it hard to name your feelings? Did anything surprise you? These are all useful things to know.
When you sit with your feelings and turn towards difficult feelings, breathing through them and the thoughts that may come with them, they become less scary. Getting out of the habit of shying away from difficult feelings means you’re less likely to be surprised by feeling stressed or overwhelmed, because you know what they feel like to you, and you’ve experienced that in a safe, controlled place.
You get to know yourself better, and learn the things you need and want. Spending time with yourself is a goal in and of itself.

Other things to consider

You might feel silly sitting there doing nothing. That’s fine. Remind yourself that this is something that comes with time. You can try another option or just keep trying. If you’ve not done anything like this before, you’ve not given feelings space to be felt, it might take a while to get there. This is a skill, and you might need to practice to get there.

You might not feel much of anything in a session. We don’t always have big feelings all the time. Sometimes you might just feel not much of anything. The time spent being quiet, and giving yourself space, is a win regardless of if you have any big breakthroughs or not.