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  • Writer's pictureAlison

Take 20: Chapter 3 - sitting with emotions

Updated: Apr 7

In his book “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’, CHARLIE MACKESY says: “Isn’t it odd. We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside.

When we’re busy, with a long to-do list, we can forget to acknowledge and sit with our feelings, which is what we’re going to do now. In our experience, when we do this, it helps it to pass through us.


You will need a pen and paper, possibly some coloured pens and a comfy chair.

Notice how you’re feeling right now? What’s your mood in this moment? You may notice several different ones – choose one instinctively. Accept it and sit with it, whatever it is.

Please read this poem twice:

The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honourably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

As you sit with your feeling or mood, please work through the series of prompts below, and give yourself time to capture in words or pictures whatever comes to mind. Don’t overthink it, and remember there is no right or wrong in this exercise. Our invitation is to stay open to what becomes present and see what emerges for you.

If your feeling or mood were an image what would it be? Be instinctive. It might be a muddy puddle, a pure white snowdrop, mouldy cheese, a path through the sand-dunes to the sea. Take some time to visualise it – don’t force it - just let something arrive. Notice all the tones and colours in your image; are they dull or vivid? Textured or flat? Watercolours or rich vibrant oils? Do they go together or clash? If you were in that image? What would you be hearing? Are the sounds indoor or outdoor; loud or soft; soothing or jarring? No sound at all? As you spend time in your image, let yourself imagine what it might smell like, is it earthy or fragrant; delicate or pungent, inviting or off-putting? Do you want to breath it in or hold your nose to avoid it? If you could reach out and touch your image, what would it feel like – soft or hard, rough or smooth, hot or cold, wet or dry. Would you want to touch it or would you prefer not to? And if you were to taste your image what would you experience? Bitter or sweet; salty or spicy; refreshing or claggy; fresh or rotten? As you look back at what you’ve captured in your imagination or on the page, take a moment to choose two or three words that are important for you about this mood or feeling. How might this serve you today?

If you like this exercise a downloadable version is here:

Take 20 Chapter3_sittingwithemotions
Download PDF • 285KB

Take 20 is inspired and adapted from The Write Place™ with thanks to Elaine Patterson and Karyn Prentice of PattersonPrenticeDesigns

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