Mindfulness Meditation
    • Learning how our mind creates our world

Exploring Embarrassment

by on 01 May

     I recently attended a week-end workshop where I told the group how I felt about it, compared to a similar experience 15 years ago. After the weekend, I began to feel embarrassed about what I had said.


     It was a yoga workshop over Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. After the introductory evening, I remembered another course where I hadn’t felt as comfortable as this time. And, the comparison struck me as funny. When the instructor invited anecdotes Saturday morning, I compared my experience of the two events. I enjoy seeing people laugh but realize I have to be careful - what I think might be funny could be interpreted differently by others.

     Monday morning, as I reflected on the week-end experience, I began to think of another possible interpretation of my comparison, and it wasn’t funny this time. In fact, it might have led others at the workshop to feel poorly of me – perhaps regard me as a “smart aleck” who was a bit arrogant. I felt like my self-image was under attack. And, of course, to make things worse, I began to criticize myself for having made the comparison.

     During Monday, the image of the other attendees not liking what I said kept reappearing, along with the feeling of wanting to crawl under a rock. And each time I regretted this yucky feeling, my negative thoughts just sustained it.

     Tuesday morning, as I was reading about mindfulness, I realised that I hadn’t been applying the practice to this stressful situation. I also reflected that this wasn’t the “regular” form of stress where we dislike and resist reality. No, this was like anxiety – where we worry about what MIGHT happen in the future – except that it was anxiety applied to the past. I was worried about what MIGHT have happened. And the appropriate mindful practice is to focus on and explore reality rather than continue the negative thinking that causes emotional discomfort.

     Well, the reality – the here and now - was that I was feeling embarrassed because of my speculative, and quite possibly incorrect, thoughts. So, I turned my attention away from thinking these thoughts and focused on the physical feeling/emotion of embarrassment in my body. And, I named this real experience with my inner voice – I said to myself, “This is what embarrassment feels like. This is my current, moment-to-moment reality”. And, while exploring this physical feeling wasn’t pleasant, it was a whole lot better than thinking negative thoughts about myself. And, the more I did it, the more the yucky feeling dissipated.

     After a few hours, the feeling of embarrassment had largely disappeared, replaced with only a mild feeling of discomfort. The practice of focusing on the here-and-now, on concrete reality, had transformed the experience. It certainly made Tuesday a whole lot better than Monday had been.

     And my takeaway from this experience (“how many times do I have to keep relearning this lesson”!)? That when I turn TOWARD and explore a difficult, upsetting emotion rather than deny or try to escape it, the less power it has over me.

     Having relearned this vital lesson about mindfulness, I feel more confident about applying it in the future when my mind will undoubtedly create stress once again. I know I can count on that happening. Some things in life ARE certain.


  • 4rx

    Thanks for delivering these sort of wonderful info.

    4rx Saturday, 08 April 2017 11:20
  • Wilhemina

    Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up tthe amazing spirit.

    Wilhemina Monday, 05 December 2016 07:57

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