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PodcastThe Wisdom of Challenging Emotions

The Wisdom of Challenging Emotions

Sometimes we need to take a step back from difficult emotions like sadness, anger, and fear, and look at them from a different perspective. By doing that, we can witness them without becoming attached to their stories.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace

(gentle music) Headspace Studios. (upbeat music) Greetings and welcome to Radio Headspace, and to Monday. It's me, your host Dora. The other day, I was experiencing multiple challenging emotions at once, so naturally I sought refuge in a Dharma Talk by Tara Brach, an amazing meditation teacher and writer. She said something along the lines of, "Our evolution as human beings is to bear witness to our thoughts and emotions, but not buy into them." Now, this was a great revelation for me in that moment, and it also sparked my curiosity about the ocean of feelings I found myself swimming in. Over the course of the next five episodes, I'll be exploring the wisdom of insecurity, sadness, fear, and anger, and unpacking the ways that we can navigate these feelings and experiences in a skillful, more mindful way. Today, let's talk about the power of recognizing the things that eat at us and let them go. So there's a story of two monks that were traveling to a town. On their journey, they came across a young woman who was stepping out of her carriage. The rains had made deep puddles in the road, and the woman couldn't step across without the risk of spoiling her silk dress. She stood there looking very cross and impatient. She scolded her attendants who had nowhere to place the packages that they held for her, and also couldn't help her across the puddle. The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transporting her across the water and then setting her down on the other side. She didn't thank the older monk, she just shoved him out of the way and departed. As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you put her on your back and carried her. Then she didn't even thank you." "I set the woman down hours ago," the older monk replied. "Why are you still carrying her?" I think we've all been each character in this story, whether it was the woman being carried, the young monk, or the older monk. I know I can see myself in each of these roles, and when it comes to working with our emotions, perspective is everything. How we approach the way we feel and how we respond is what can allow us to let go. Science shows that our emotions only occur in the body for roughly 30 seconds, yet how we respond and react to our emotions and thoughts are what can make them feel longstanding. I invite you to reflect on what your relationship is with challenging and difficult emotions. How do you respond to moments of fear or anger? What does insecurity and sadness feel like in your mind and body? Hopefully these are all starting...


Duration4 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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