Emotional mastery is a lifelong process. As long as you are breathing, you will be managing or hopefully enjoying them. The water exercise was chosen partly because I understand that everybody’s reaction to the world around is different, but the need for water is universal and it is easier to choose a somewhat passive activity to start with. With the water exercise, you don’t have to do so much as not do so much as in not consume water thoughtlessly. It is a good start for learning mindfulness as a western adult. Now we are going to take what would be the first step had you been raised by, well, me.
When my daughter was a child, there were many theories going around about child rearing, but I liked the old African and Native American way of attachment parenting. So I held my daughter a lot and carried her around with me in a baby sling. She was close to me as I breathed, and a lot of that breathing was during meditation. She learned to do that with me, so even though she later asserted her independence, it was easy to remind her during her childhood and teens to breathe.
If you have loved ones who you feel safe to cuddle with, pay attention to your breathing next time you are close to them. This is the way you should breathe when you need to calm yourself. Mind you, don’t pick a memory with someone who has hurt you on purpose or due to severe stupidity or callous. Choose a memory with someone you know is safe: someone who has or will love you until they die and would never harm you on purpose.
If you don’t have anyone like that then be aware that this is a vulnerability. As I’ve said before, I do not love “unconditionally”. I do not love fucktards who have become monsters. If you are a decent person or at least trying to be, and are not into abusing anyone, I would probably like you. There are others out there like me, and also like me they tend to look a bit scary. Next fierce, protective person you see, quiz them a bit to make sure they aren’t going to try to recruit you to their religion or something, then take a chance and ask them for a hug…after the quarantine/lockdown is over.
Until then, imagine it. Imagine being hugged by someone who means you no harm. How you are breathing is how you should breathe to relax yourself. Forget the psychobabble about being an independent individual individualist. That’s not how humans work. We learn love from being loved. We also get benefits from people doing loving actions towards us that we don’t get from just contemplating the Universe as if we are not actually living in it.