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Mindful : August 2016
PRACTICE PRACTICE Unhook from Envy with Awareness By recognizing their earliest signals, we gain control over our envious thoughts. When we investigate envious thoughts and emotions, and notice how the body responds to our feeling lesser, we can recognize the signs of envy before they start to take root in the brain. The nex t time envy begins gathering strength, try this check-in: Tune in to the present moment by bringing aware- ness to sitting, standing, or lying down. Inhale and take a moment to notice where you feel that in-breath most vividly, such as in your belly, chest, rib cage, nose, throat, or mouth. Bring to mind a situation of someone having something you want—a nice car, a nice house, a nice job. Maybe they’re talented or attractive, good with people or young— anything you do not feel you already possess, but want. (Choose a small basket of envy, rather than a bushel— just enough to help you notice what happens inside when envy takes hold.) Picture this situation in as much detail as possible: the image of what you envy, who you’re with, where you are, what you’re doing when envy arises. The more detail the better. Keep breathing and stay with your story of envy, as best you’re able. What thoughts do you notice running through your envious brain? What other emo- tions accompany envy on its destructive journey? Do the physical sensations change or move? Since envy triggers pain responses in the brain, you may notice how quickly your attention wanders from the task of being present to your envious feelings. To the best of your ability, see if you can notice when your attention runs screaming, and gently bring it back to investigating the sensations evoked by envy. The sooner we can gently learn to notice what happens when our thoughts run to envy, the sooner we can come out of autopilot and recog- nize that we are in a familiar habit of mind. The minute we recognize that envy is here, we can choose to come back to our breath, notice the sensations coursing through our bodies and return to the present moment.