Mindfulness of Emotions

Today, Payton led the discussion on mindfulness of emotions, as defined by Gil Fronsdal in his talk of the same name. The talk is available from Audio Dharma here:

Gil spoke about using the acronym “RAFT” to pause and work with strong emotions as they appear in our minds and bodies. The acronym refers to:

  • Recognize: It’s often hard to notice when we have strong emotions going on. Sometimes even just noticing it is freeing.
  • Allow: Maybe not “accept” because we are not necessarily condoning the emotion. Instead we make space for it in the heart. Put the “motion” back in “emotion” and allow them to be experienced fully without acting on them. When emotions stop moving and get stuck, we suffer.
  • Feel: What is the physical experience of the emotion? More challenging emotions often have a story, and we can be very involved in that story. By stepping away from the story we can make more space for dealing with the emotion. Have compassion for yourself and don’t fight to resist or push down the experience. We don’t have to have an adversarial relationship with emotion.
  • Teasing Apart: Investigating the pieces of the emotion can be liberating. Time: sometimes it’s not related to something that’s actually happening now or even something that happened recently. Body: sometimes our body experiences can be separate from our emotions. Multiple emotions: sometimes several emotions can be tangled as one. Identity: the joy of conceit, based on complements, is fragile; the anger of being criticized is fragile and based on outside forces.