Tina Greenbaum

By Tina Greenbaum

How Our Emotions Shape Our Thoughts

How Our Emotions Shape Our Thoughts 150 150 Tina Greenbaum


Emotions. Feelings. Thoughts. Sensations. As I wrote about, we are ALL dealing with an unusual range of all four these days. You may be familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘s five stages of death and dying: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. We have come to understand that those are really five stages of any loss, not just death and dying. And those are not linear stages. Thoughts of grief and loss send us through all the stages. Some days we are in denial, some days we are angry, then maybe we go back to denial again. There is so much uncertainty these days that we often get overwhelmed both by our thoughts, by not having any control over the circumstances, and, for too many of us, the loss of someone we loved.

Remember To Breathe

I’ve talked about the Mind-Body Connection. It’s real. And people who exercise regularly know how their physical condition affects their mental clarity and thoughts. But you do not have to become a gym rat to get your thoughts under control. Just…breathe. Start with something simple. For the next minute, inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 8. Make sure that your exhale is at least twice as long as your inhale.

Try it. I’ll wait.

Did you notice any difference? You probably noticed a slight change in your thoughts. And a slight change in your physical sensations.

The Middle Way Is Not Easy

While poets and philosophers have always talked about “everything in moderation,” I have a friend who admits he has only two speeds: 100 miles per hour…or a couch potato. He knows this makes his life harder than it needs to be, but he has made that belief a self-fulfilling prophecy. When he asks me for help, I work with him on going just 5 miles per hour for starters.

We started with that one-minute breathing exercise. Then I suggested he do it twice a day. When he finally was able to do 1 minute of breathing in the morning and evening, I gradually increased it to 7½ minutes. Every time he admits he did not do it the previous day, we start again. Slowly, slowly he is working his way up to sustained, significant meditation practice.

So start with that one minute I just suggested. And let us see where we all get to.


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