The magic of Popcorn Meditation

In an exploration of emotions and how they interlink, don’t push your feelings and thoughts away — examine them, one at the time.

Haje Jan Kamps
4 min readOct 4, 2019

As I wrote about a while ago, I’ve been on a journey of being less in my brain and more in the emotional realm. “That’s all fine and well,” I hear you mutter, “But how the actual ever-loving hell do you even start?” One technique I’ve found helpful is what I’ve been describing as ‘popcorn meditation.’

It works best if I’m able to carve out a fair chunk of time — a couple of hours is perfect — because following these little morsels down the rabbit hole takes a bit of time. Find yourself a comfortable spot — I like a hammock, but whatever you usually do to get yourself comfortable for a while should do the trick. Close your eyes.

Imagine a pot of oil, with a couple of hundred corn kernels in it. A merry flame is heating your pan, and as you settle in comfortably, you feel an ever-so-slight tension. The first kernel is about to pop. When it does, and the kernel transforms into popcorn in a fraction of a second, it jumps out of the pan. With your mind, grab it out of thin air. The exercise has begun.

Each kernel is a different thing. It can be an emotion. A memory. A dream you had, perhaps, or a pain you’ve suffered. A challenge you’re facing right now, or a poem you’ve been struggling to get a handle on. Whatever it is, it’s there now, in your hand. And it’s the only popcorn you’re going to be paying attention to for now. Others may pop while you have this one — and that’s okay. For now, this kernel gets your full attention.

Note that you aren’t trying to grab a hold of thought — thoughts happen all the time, and they aren’t the realm we’re dealing with at the moment. This is an exercise of examining emotions — or situations, and what emotions they evoked.

Rub your fingers and thumb lightly together. Roll the popcorn between them. What is the emotion? If you were to pop it in your mouth, would it taste the strawberry sweet of trust and love or the acrid singe of suspicion? Does it have the lightness of joy and happiness or the odd, salty heaviness of grief or sadness? Would the flavor surprise you, or bring on a gentle wave of…

Haje Jan Kamps

Writer, startup pitch coach, enthusiastic dabbler in photography.