The Mindfulness Blog

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Are Feelings Just Biofeedback?

Strong feelings or emotions can be messy. And difficult. And, well, obvious. So do people really need technology to alert them to their feelings or emotions?

Apparently, the answer is, "yes". At least, that's what the developers of a new technology reported in a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune newspaper seem to think. "The idea is to develop self-help technologies that people can use in their everyday life, and be able to see what they are going through". Hmm.

A laudable goal, for anyone struggling to identify  emotion, but once we identify a particular emotion, how do  we manage it? That's where the rubber really hits the road. How do we respond to feelings or emotions that are challenging and difficult? Just ask someone who is really down on themselves about a mistake they made, or someone who just got reamed a new earhole by a supervising partner.

The headline to the article referenced above asked, "How are you feeling? Check your wristband". With all due respect, I'd rather check in with myself--that's where mindfulness and meditation can really make a difference. For me, it's about self-awareness and the reminder that I may not be able to stop the waves (the incoming), but I do know how to surf--how to respond  to the waves.

In addition to identifying feelings or emotions, it's helpful to remind ourselves that although we can't control much of what comes our way, we can control--manage-- our response, in a skillful manner. That's what mindfulness and meditation do for me, and I believe they can do it for you, too.

Sure, sometimes a third-party perspective is helpful or necessary, but I'm not aware of any technology that can provide that perspective. Presumably, the wristbands of the future will be more sophisticated than the mood rings of the past, but as you will have guessed by now, I am not a big fan of technology--especially when it comes to us and understanding our feelings or emotions.

Call me a luddite, but I don't think of feelings or emotions as "biofeedback"--that just doesn't work for me. They're fundamental human traits that are deeply felt by all of us, and they bear directly upon our ability to act, or perform. And that is--should be--a concern for all businesses and professions.

So, the next time some incoming feeling of self-criticism comes our way--put aside the circumstances that give rise to that feeling, no matter how dire they may seem--let's grab the proverbial bull by the horns and proactively examine our feelings. Let's get up close and personal with feelings that may be uncomfortable, get curious about them, and become more familiar with them. Name them, to tame them as many therapists like to say.

Let's get down in the mud with our feelings or emotions. Wrestle with those demons, ourselves--along with a trained advisor, if appropriate--and get real. That's what mindfulness and meditation are really all about!


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