When the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive. —Thich Nhat Hanh
As the world’s very best scientists work hard to track and prevent a fast-spreading virus, we at iRest are monitoring another quickly moving contagion: human emotion. Have you ever noticed the way another person’s feelings can be so strong that you experience them as your own? Psychologists call this phenomenon “emotional contagion”, and it occurs due to the mirror neurons in our brain, which are wired to reflect the behavior of others.
With society rapidly changing, emotions run high: from fear and distress, to confusion and desire. How can we bring our best emotional selves to the world in a way that inspires others toward health and happiness?
This was the opening topic in our latest livestream meditation and discussion session, led by Stephanie Lopez. These days, we are all inadvertently opening up to our own great tenderness and vulnerability. Normalizing these feelings, says Stephanie, allows us to foster greater compassion for ourselves and others.
The first step in monitoring your emotional impact on the world is to simply check in with yourself. How are you doing? Take the following steps:
- Notice the feeling.
- Drop the label. Without naming the feeling any longer, where do you feel it in your body?
- Linger in that place in your body and observe. See what happens.
- Try inviting in the opposite feeling for a while.
By practicing these steps, we might learn to accept our emotions and develop a sense of calm, so that we minimize our anxiety when interacting with friends, family, and neighbors. With our very presence, we can build trust and confidence in a healthier world. As Stephanie concludes, “There is no social distancing in the heart."