08/19/2014 12:50 pm ET Updated Oct 19, 2014

Clinging to Feelings and Ending Up Stuck

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Some days I end up in that mucky land of melancholy. Today is one of those days. The heat and humidity definitely don't help but there is more to it than that for me. At times like this it's hard to get grounded and it can even feel like the melancholy has been going on forever. But it's just not true.

I have just come off of a fantastic weekend celebrating my son's marriage to his beloved. Family, friends, good food and even fireworks were all part of the scene while hanging out in the city and taking in its energy. It was filled with laughter and tears, popsicles and bubbles and lots of sunshine to boot. Just... about... everything... you... could... ask... for.

Ahhh, and there you have it.

That's what it is. I notice my body as I write those words. I feel the heaviness and the sadness. And it all becomes clear.


The melancholy and the heaviness in my body are pointing out my desire to hold onto the feelings from the weekend. I want to stretch it out for as long as I can. I want to stay with it.

Clinging is a concept that we are all familiar with but we may not know it. Clinging can involve hanging on to a habit, a feeling (labeled good or bad), a conversation or a belief. In meditation practice you learn to become aware of the tendency to cling to a thought, belief or feeling. My seated meditation and mindfulness practice involve inviting some kindness to enter and observe how the clinging feels in my body without judgment. Some days, however, are easier than others.

Often our desire to hang onto something can be about avoiding something. For me, I would imagine that in part today's feelings are all about the changes this celebration represents in my life. Or it could also be the mind's desire to just be where it isn't at the present moment. But the beauty of mindfulness practice is that we don't have to keep spinning in the endless loop.

In fact, I like to keep it simple and to think of it in these steps:

  1. Awareness -- you become conscious of some kind of discomfort in your body and notice if there is a thought associated with it.
  2. Tell the truth -- you don't sugar coat or dress up what the thought or feeling or sensation is.
  3. Kindness/Non-judgment -- you begin to approach the sensation with an energy of kindness, curiosity, and non-judgment.
  4. Breathe -- you keep returning to your breath as a point of reference -- I like to think of it as my "keep it real" meter -- it reminds me where my feet are.
  5. Wave riding -- you keep repeating the sequence as each sensation comes until your brain realizes you know that you are no longer your thoughts or feelings.

So where is the melancholy at this point? Hmm. I check in. I notice an inner smile filling my body. I notice my feet, solidly resting against the desk rung. And tears fill my eyes. I don't need to know the source of the tears because this moment feels like enough. I feel deeply alive. But most of all, I feel deliciously drawn to my breath and I am almost certain my body is breathing with the collective breath of all of creation.

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