If you’re the sort of person who is willing to rethink things in response to new information, then changing your mind can be a fairly rapid process. Sometimes it’s possible to shift emotional states quickly in response to new and different input, but it isn’t so reliable. Emotions are slow, often. The bigger and more impactful something is, the more time it can take to integrate it and make peace with it.
This is just as true of happy, welcome feelings as it is of gloomier ones. A big, positive change can take a lot of getting to grips with and can also be disorientating. We can be more neglectful when it comes to happy feelings because we tend to just accept them as good without any kind of scrutiny, where pain is more likely to have us paying attention to our own inner lives. Having intense good experiences, or a lot of them can also be something that needs processing.
This is something we can approach in a meditative way, taking the time to reflect on what’s happened and exploring how we feel about it. Deliberately reflecting on experiences and feelings helps us consolidate those experiences and make sense of them. It’s also a good way of being in more control with what’s happening. If our emotional experiences are things that just happen to us, we won’t have the means to seek more of what we like, or be able to deal with what we don’t like.
For me, the idea of the life lived deliberately has become a central tenet in my understanding of what it is to be a Druid. I’m not alone in this – the practice of reflection and being deliberate is there in the OBOD course.
Meditating on your experiences can work in any way that you want it to. I’m particularly focused on needing to understand things. My brain likes to sift information for patterns. I like to reflect on what, exactly made me happy and to revisit those things in a deliberate way. Around uncomfortable experiences, I need to understand exactly what I’m uncomfortable about. Sometimes the process of examining an experience will make me realise things about how I’ve been impacted by previous experiences. Your needs may well be different.
We won’t always consciously know what’s going on. We may not always have the room – emotionally or in our lives – to deal with our feelings. Things can get backed up, previous experiences can distort how we’re seeing the present. Sometimes a recent event can unlock feelings we didn’t make space for when they happened. That can be unsettling. Emotions can just bubble up sometimes, especially unprocessed ones, and that can feel a lot like being ambushed.
Making time for it is a good choice. Holding some quiet, safe, personal space where no one will judge you or make anything of it, is a good idea. Calm and gentle reflection on life – the happy bits and the difficult bits alike – means we at least have some idea what’s going on. Without reflection, we may not understand our own responses or needs. Taking the time to contemplate how we feel about things gives us a lot of information about who we are, what we need and what’s significant. It’s good insight to have, and spending time on yourself in this way has much to recommend it.