A Journey towards Integration
An emotion is more than just a feeling. It is a physiological response comprising not only our experience of “feeling” (anger, sadness, or joy, for example) but the whole body. Observing and describing emotions can help us to experience them, to live in this one moment, and to take care of ourselves by recognizing what we need instead of ignoring or suppressing it.
If you can, look in a mirror and observe the expression on your face. Do you have a little wrinkle between your eyebrows? Are the corners of your mouth turned up or down? Are you flushed or sweating? Are you blushing?
Notice your body. What bodily sensations accompany your emotion? Are your muscles tight or loose? Do you feel hot or cold? Do you have a headache or pain anywhere in your body? Do you feel full of energy or depleted? How is your breathing — quick and shallow, or deep and slow? Do you feel a start like an electric shock that leaves you breathless?
Part of every emotion is an urge to action. Do you want to run and hide? Do you want to start yelling or hit something? Do you want to jump in the air or run about in circles? Would you like nothing more than to crawl into bed for a rest?
Fully describe your emotion — how it feels in your mind and in your body, how it looks on your face, and what it makes you want to do. Do not judge in any way. How we feel is NEVER wrong.
Finally, do you know what triggered the emotion? Was it internal (from your own mind) or external (from your environment or situation)? Every emotion has a trigger, whether we recognize it or not. We must deal with every emotion, sooner or later — maybe after we’ve done something regrettable because our suppressed emotion burst out uncontrollably…or maybe before, when the feeling isn’t as strong, when a little attention will help us to choose a wise and reasonable course of action rather than a purely emotional one.