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Posted on Sun, Mar 20, 2011 : 5:50 a.m.

Meditation self-help 101: Notice how your thoughts make you feel

By Susan Scott Morales, MSW


Photo by Flickr user @boetter

In this second lesson (see “Get curious about your thoughts” for lesson one), we’re going to explore more closely the thoughts you observed last week. Did you notice a pattern?

One of my favorite psychotherapy resources is Dr. David Burns' book, "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy." In it, he discusses the cognitive patterns we use to avoid our feelings. They range from minimization to overgeneralization to personalization. We all have certain tendencies, and I recommend you check out his categories to help you identify yours.

Whatever they are, I’ve found that these defenses tend to create tension in the body. Try this: Think negatively about a situation you’re concerned about. For example, "I never get anything right!"

Now check into your body — especially your neck, forehead, and shoulders. You may also sense how your stomach and chest feel. Did you notice more tightness?

Now do the opposite: Think of something pleasant. Again check into your body, the same areas. What do you notice? The differences may be very subtle, so repeat the exercise a few times to get the feel for it.

The next time you meditate, become aware of your thoughts without judgment and notice their impact on your physical and emotional state. Are they making you feel more uptight or is your body relaxing? Are the thoughts keeping you going in a circle or motivating you to move forward?

If you’re becoming more tense, you can simply say to yourself, “Thinking.” Or you may identify one of the cognitive defense patterns and state, “Oh, that’s just overgeneralization, I must be avoiding an unpleasant feeling.” Again, no judgment.

Next Sunday, we’ll discuss how to work with your feelings in meditation.

If you need help with your meditation practice, check out my index for techniques and guided meditations.

Susan Scott Morales is a meditation teacher, psychotherapist, published poet, novelist, and community contributor to Tweet her @susanscottmoral, reach her at or visit her website:



Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:18 a.m.

Meditation is good in promoting health and relaxation. I saw that meditation can be enhanced significantly by using energy medicine practices. For instance, qigong is Chinese energy medicine practice. I used meditation and Yuen method to help me correct my negative issues that cause me to become stress. By being negative in life, it can cause me to feel upset and have physical symptoms. So when I start the elimination process, I felt that my body reacts to the corrections and I felt lighter after. I felt so happy and light hearted after the said session. As if no more problems can bring me down and I became more optimistic after. Here are some video resources with learning tips that demonstrate the benefits of energy medicine, <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Linda Chapman

Sun, Mar 20, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

This describes the process of detaching from emotion so well. I have been trying to accompany the observation with a nice breath in and out. Sometimes the emotion disperses, just like that!


Sun, Mar 20, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

I do not use the method described as meditation. I divide man into two categories. The first category is called the Self and it describes man as a physical, mental, and social being. The second category is called the Knowing-Self which establishes man as a moral, and spiritual being. The Knowing -Self is aware of the thoughts, moods, and feelings of the Self and it applies the moral principles before any action is taken on account of those thoughts, moods, and feelings. This would help the man to exercise self-restraint and control his behavior and his response to his thoughts, moods, and feelings.