James and the Giant Breach

220px-William_James_b1842c.jpg

Have you ever noticed how an emotion seems to reside somewhere in your body? That's actually true. There have been scientific studies recently showing the strong connection between emotions and a felt sense in the body.

No real surprise here. For thousands of years, expressions have arisen that reflect our emotional states .

"Heartache.”  When we suffer extreme loss, there can be a dramatic impact on our heart’s health.

“Heartbroken.”  When things are really bad, there is a medical condition called takosubo cardiomyopathy-broken heart syndrome- which mimics the symptoms of a heart attack, but occurs in people who have few risk factors for heart disease and were previously healthy.

“I can’t breathe.”  Many of us have experienced shortness of breath in a state of fear.

“I need breathing room.” When we’re claustrophobic or anxious, this expression reflects the tightness arising in our chests.

“I've got a gut feeling.”  We're now discovering how much of our moods and situational  responses are direct results of the feedback loop between the microflora inhabiting our intestines and our brain.

The eminent psychologist William James was prescient on this topic of body- mind connection.He wrote at the end of the 19th century, “Common sense says, we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run;  we are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike.” James, in a revolutionary insight, reversed this chain of causality, proposing that feelings follow, instead of begin, our body reactions. ”We feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble.”

To test James’ hypothesis, take a minute and frown, hunching your shoulders inward,noticing how you feel.  Now, sit up, roll your shoulders back and down and smile for one minute. How does that feel? Is there a difference?

In our meditation practice, we have the opportunity to notice with increasing discernment, emotions arising moment to moment. By spending time observing, we can develop awareness of the sensation in the body associated with a particular emotion and allow the experience to follow its natural course, not holding on to it, nor pushing it away. We can label these feelings-pleasant, unpleasant, neutral- which begins to diffuse the power of each emotion and its hold on us.

This week's gatherings:

 • Monday 6:30 PM Ridgefield Library 472 Main Street Ridgefield

• Monday 7:30 PM Sama Yoga 45 Grove Street, New Canaan

• Tuesday 1:00 PM Ferguson  Library, 1 Public Library Plaza, Stamford (made  possible by a grant from Bankwell)

• Wednesday  12:00 PM New Canaan Library 151 Main Street, New Canaan   

Wednesday 7:30-8:30 PM,  Mindfulness for People in Recovery,Grace Episcopal Church, 5958 Main Street, Trumbull

 • Thursday 7:00 PM Ferguson  Library, 1 Public Library Plaza, Stamford (in the Rotary Room)

Upcoming Events:

• Mindfulness in Education Conference @ St. Luke's School  in conjunction with Spence School, New Canaan Saturday June 9  (registration at https://www.stlukesct.org/page/community/summer-at-st-lukes/mindfulness-in-education-conference-2018)

CMP is a 501c3 nonprofit.. All of our weekly sessions are free and open to the public, but donations are essential to our sustainability. Checks, cash and credit cards are accepted and donations are tax deductible.

Checks can be given to facilitators at our weekly sits or mailed to:

Community Mindfulness Project

P.O. Box 1713

New Canaan, CT 06840.

Credit card donations are accepted on our website: CommunityMindfulnessProject.org.

Stay up-to-date on all CMP news and happenings by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Meetup and Insight Timer.  

We thank you!