“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds. This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.” -My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.
The practice of mindfulness nourishes awareness of thoughts and feelings–remembering in the moment to focus one’s attention on the actual felt sense of the inner processes and experiences (fear, anger, resentment, etc., along with shallow breath, racing heart, tightness in the chest, etc.) naturally short-circuits the duration and reinforcement of negative emotions when one feels oneself getting stuck in them. The practice of mindfulness meditation itself offers a safe space for training oneself to observe, recognize and accept one’s thoughts and emotions as they arise in real time, rather than being swept away with them.
There is power in learning how to simply sit with such powerful forces, without trying to ignore or suppress or judge them, or yourself.
Simple, but not easy.