The Name-and-Tame Meditation
Angry? Attach the phrase "this is anger" to every furious thought. Anxious? As you suffer it, say, "This is anxiety." Twenty-five hundred years ago, Buddha taught that we manage our emotions better when we label experiences. Science is catching up. When researchers at UCLA looked at labelers' brain activity in fMRI machines, they saw more activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that processes emotion and inhibits behavior, and less activity in the amygdala, which is linked to emotional reactions (this also happens in traditional meditation). In effect, labelers feel less fearful, sad, pained or stressed. You wouldn't think that something as simple as attaching words to feelings (in speech or writing, it doesn't matter which) could make you feel so much calmer, but it does.