Mindfulness for releasing emotions (free guided meditation)

I’d like to share with you a technique that has reliably created profound, lasting changes for my hypnotherapy clients, and it’s something I frequently use with myself.

That doesn’t mean it’s always an instant fix for every issue. But with practice and persistence, it has the power to completely transform how you relate to yourself and your emotions.

If your experience is anything like mine, the more you do this technique, the more positive changes you’ll start noticing in yourself, in your relationships, and in your life in general.

Here’s a quick review of the steps:

Before you begin, set aside some time for yourself, in a place where you can relax and focus inside. Choose a feeling that has been troubling for you in the past, and remember a particular situation when you felt that way. Then…

  1. Notice where the core of the feeling is located in your body.

  2. From your heart, say “welcome” to the feeling.

  3. Relax with the feeling. Relax into the feeling. Relax beneath the feeling.

  4. Be open, patient, and curious about how the feeling changes.

  5. Visualise yourself in a similar situation, acting and behaving in a much more positive, resourceful way.

And here’s a free guided meditation to help you to learn to do this process for yourself:

You may also be interested in my new meditation program: Profound Releasing

Open your heart • Dissolve inner blocks • Dive into stillness, silence and pure awareness

Find out more here


Mindfulness meditation for managing anxiety (free download)

This week I’m going to be exploring one of the most valuable psychological skills you can develop: how to take a step back from unpleasant thoughts and feelings, rather than getting caught up in them.

This is a skill that all good forms of psychotherapy will teach you, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to learn. After all, when you’re trembling with rage, or overwhelmed with anxious thoughts, it’s usually a real struggle to start thinking more calmly.

But there are ways you can learn to manage your emotions better, especially if you practise in advance, rather than waiting until the fear, anger or gloomy pessimism creeps up on you.

The technique you’ll be learning in this week’s video is one that I’ve used with great success in my own life, and I also use it to help many of my hypnotherapy clients.

It may seem simple, but if you put it into practice regularly, it can be life-changing.

Here’s the free meditation mp3:

You can also download this mp3 here. After clicking on the link, just select the blue “download” button in the top right corner of the screen.

You may also be interested in my new meditation program: Profound Releasing

Open your heart • Dissolve inner blocks • Dive into stillness, silence and pure awareness

Find out more here


How to make affirmations work

A suited, booted, clean-shaven guru bounces up and down before you, his eyes wide with passion, his trembling fist thrusting skywards, his voice roaring: “You create your own reality! As you see it, so it shall be!” He then commands you and your fellow seminar attendees to rhythmically chant, in unison…

Affirmations are good!
Every day in every way I will say more and more affirmations!
We are all individuals!

That’s essentially been my default (and pretty prejudiced) view of affirmations for quite some years.

They’ve always made me think of Carolyn from the film American Beauty, who begins her working day by plastering a smile over her desperation and angst, and then starts incanting “I will sell this house today!”. At the end of the day, after the house remains unsold, she crumples into a sobbing heap.

There are good reasons to be sceptical of affirmations. A 2009 study in Canada found that if people with low self-esteem repeated the mantra: “I am a lovable person”, it only made them feel worse.

We instinctively find cognitive dissonance troubling, and if you have a strong feeling of dislike for yourself, and then you dutifully repeat the words “I am lovable”, the glaring contradiction between the words and your experience is only going to create a painful inner discord.

So why on earth have I titled this post “How to make affirmations work”? What can I possibly say in their defence?

Well, first of all, that same Canadian study showed that if people with high self-esteem repeated the phrase “I am a lovable person”, it made them feel better. Wait. Don’t laugh. That’s not just a trivial observation. In their case the affirmation drew their attention to a positive quality about themselves that they were open to believing – it emphasised and highlighted that part of their self-concept.

In my hypnotherapy practice I find it’s very healing for someone to be given space to acknowledge the things they do well, and that they have a whole variety of positive qualities and personal strengths.

I don’t mean that I tell my clients to repeat “I have positive qualities” twenty times. I mean that I discuss the specifics of how that person has, for example, raised children, been a good friend, made a living, and followed what they believe in.

It’s sometimes very helpful to remind yourself of all the pieces of evidence in your life that you can, in fact, do plenty of amazing, wonderful things.

And that last sentence, just there, is the “affirmation” in the therapy session. It’s the conclusion that summarises all the positive evidence of what they’ve achieved in their life.

In a nutshell, affirmations strengthen and emphasise things we already find plausible.

If I repeat “I can fly a plane” over and over, it feels absurd, because I’ve no evidence that I can. An affirmation with no evidence to support it feels as unstable and foundationless as it is.

But if you take the time to gather several pieces of positive evidence about your ability to do something, an affirmation can then summarise that evidence as a single thought.

So if you’re about to give a public talk, and you have a terrifying, prophetic vision of yourself drying up the second you take the stage, choking on some water, and then fleeing the room making a high-pitched wailing noise, then it’s unlikely to help if you begin a nervous, rapid-fire inner monologue of:


That’s only likely to add to your sense of anxiety.

But if instead you sit in an upright, balanced posture, take several slow, deep breaths, remember the feeling of comfortably chatting with a group of old friends, and then in a calm, firm, encouraging tone of voice, tell yourself:

“I can do this. I really can”.

…that’s much more likely to crystallise your focus and determination to get up there and give it your best.

So, instead of treating affirmations as a set of magic words that will change your beliefs if you just conscientiously repeat them enough, I’d suggest using them as a way to summarise several positive memories you have of succeeding at something.

After all, in this post-modern age, when the internet is saturated with millions of contradictory viewpoints, each of them being screamed out in CAPSLOCK across the virtual wild west, it’s not a bad idea to stop every now and then and remind yourself who you are, and what values you want to live your life by, and then to crystallise those core beliefs with a single thought.

So to use affirmations well, try making a solid, convincing case to yourself, like a lawyer or a barrister would in court:

1. Sit upright and breathe calmly, as if you were an attentive jury-member ready to listen with an open mind.

2. Then review several positive memories to serve as evidence for your case. If there are a few counter-examples of times you didn’t succeed, that simply means you’re human, but your job here is to collect specific examples of your strengths.

3. Then make a closing statement or affirmation to tie all that evidence together.

The affirmation will then function as a reminder, a mental shortcut that will take you back to that state of calm determination when you need it.

You may also be interested in “Self Talk Coach“.

I co-created this session for HypnosisDownloads.com, and it’s designed to help you to instinctively talk to yourself in a kinder, fairer, more supportive way. Continue reading ‘How to make affirmations work’

Joe Kao DHypPsych(UK)

To book a hypnotherapy session with me in Cambridge (UK) or over Skype, please visit JoeKao.com

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