Get to Know Your Monsters: A Playful Mindfulness Practice to Work With Difficult Emotions

Playfulness isn’t only for children. Incorporating some lightness in our mindfulness practice can help us address difficulty. Wendy O’Leary shows us how with this visualization exercise that inspired her new children’s book.

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I can see it clearly, a big gray blob cartoon monster pulling a chain with a heavy block of cement attached at the end. This is my self-doubt monster. The cement block is made of stories about why I am not good enough, should not even try to do something, or maybe should just hide under the covers completely. These days, the monster is much smaller than in days gone by and not pulling along quite so much weight. Still, it is there, thudding around and making a trip across my mind like a parade every now and again.

Yes, I wrote a children’s book, The Monster Parade, using this analogy. In fact, I often use it myself, which is where the idea came from in the first place. Seeing my emotions as monster-like creatures that are passing by in a parade has been a powerful and incredibly helpful practice.

First, this practice supports us in seeing that our emotions are not personal. I am not my emotions, and you are not yours. Emotions arise based on a wide range of situations and conditions in our lives. Yet we often act as if our total existence…