Feeling blue? Irritable, joyless? Unfocused, going nowhere but all over the place?! Do you know why you feel like that? Well, who cares as long you can get rid of those feelings fast, you may think. Not so. Unless you understand them they will confuse and haunt you. Instead of dealing with them, you'll demand that others understand how you feel - or else!
Like visitors, these states of emotions come and go. Some bring joy and laughter; some are taxing, leaving you depleted. Inasmuch as you want to shun the unwanted emotions, you can't help peeping through the keyhole to check on them. The more you don't like them, the more you keep looking at them, pondering on them - and the more you can't get them out of your mind. Every time you look, the pain is re-experienced - as if you have invited them to torment you without knowing why and you forget to enjoy the here and now.
The same can be said about the visitors you like. After they have gone, you long for their next visit. Your mind rushes to the future rather than being at peace in the present.
Be mindful of those who come knocking on the doors of your senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. When you see something that you like, for instance, or something you dislike, you have already let a 'feeling visitor' through the door. Feed it with further thought or nurture it by clinging to the past or worrying about the future and it will stay longer. It will grow bigger and become more powerful, until it controls you. The choice of hospitality is yours: let it in for a quick chat, let it take up lodging or shut the door. Choose the first two and the mind is likely to waver or be disturbed. Even by just exchanging greetings, the untrained mind will be distracted by sight, sound, sensation. These are relayed to the brain, where they are internalised and interpreted, resulting in disruption of peace of mind.
Meanwhile, the mind wanders out there, aimlessly picking up experiences, bringing more visitors home until it can no longer cope. A busy mind cannot see things clearly - it sees as through a dusty window. The mind that keeps looking out can't see what's going on inside - like a person too consumed with work or social life to appreciate the people they live with. And before long, the family falls apart. But how do you keep a balance?
When things get too much and there are too many visitors, bring the mind back home by focusing your attention on the in-out breaths. The mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Keep its focus within the vicinity of the body; be it the rising and falling sensations of the abdomen, the in-out breaths: are they long or short, are they comfortable? If not, adjust and make them comfortable. Or you can choose to be mindful of your walking by bringing awareness to the sensation of your foot as it touches the ground. The more you practise the better and the longer you can guard your peace of mind. The better and clearer the mind!
Often people say they try to let go only to find those hurtful, painful and upsetting emotions re-emerge soon afterwards. This shows that they don't really know how to let go. When you let go, your attitude towards those emotion visitors is neither rejecting nor welcoming but one of understanding things as the way they are. First, that these emotions are but states of mind; they are not you. Second, they will go naturally on their own accord, provided that you don't engage with them through mind-chattering. Third, no need to cling to them to punish yourself or others simply because you are having too much fun with, for instance, the adrenaline rush in that moment of anger. Finally, these emotion visitors, if caught in the act of sneaking in or trying to stir things up, will vanish in a flash. Most of the time, they can outsmart you. Before you know it, an hour or a day will have been wasted! Catch them before they take you captive! Be mindful. When you do catch them, you will find a smile - one of understanding - spreading across your face...! And you will have fun with it.
Watch out for those visitors. They may huff and they may puff but by the hair of your chinny chin chin, stay mindful, at peace and happy within!