Healing Through Feeling: How to Sit With Your Emotions
What if all we had to do to change our experience was simply feel what we feel? Unfortunately, the feeling is what can be most difficult. Simply feeling and not doing can seem strange and terrifying, especially when we think that in order to do something, we must do something “now”. It’s easy to imagine that some feelings may very well destroy us.
Whenever my life experience pushes me to face what I truly feel, my mind jumps in to tell me that I will never accomplish anything- that I need to give up this feeling thing, shut up, lose myself in another job and contribute to society. But I’ve done that…three times. What I’ve discovered each time is what does not work: it does not work to use silence, a job or even a noble purpose to distract myself from the discomfort I feel. To do otherwise goes against our very name. We are not doings; we are beings with incredible creative capacity. The fact that I have created elaborate situations three times to avoid facing myself is proof of this.
I have finally allowed myself to truly feel the quality of life I have created. Some days my only experience is fear, rage and shame. I watch in awe at the elaborate stories swirling in eddies and whirlpools in my mind. I feel self-indulgent and wonder how long it will take for these emotions to twist and turn through my body. I long to rush their progress. I long to sedate, ignore or run to someone to help me “fix” the discomfort, but I’ve already done all of these things and none of them work for long. They simply cover for a while until the familiar sensation rises yet again. So here I am, feeling all that is… no matter what label it has.
Some days I cannot do anything but sit, notice and observe. I feel useless and broken when I’m not “doing”, and no one telling me otherwise can change how I feel- it shouldn’t. We all must feel what we have created no matter how uncomfortable it is. A river can be dammed, but only for so long when a flood’s coming.
We humans have created a lot of difficult stories and circumstances that we think are the reason for the discomfort we often experience. But what is hidden cannot remain hidden forever. A gem under the mud of a raging river must, at some point, encounter the rays of the sun. The raging river of life can feel uncomfortable as it rushes over our attempts to sedate, medicate and hide what really lies inside, but at some point what lies within will be seen anyway. I can spend years feeling sorry for myself because it’s so uncomfortable for me to show you who I really am, but unless I do I remain hidden, chaotic and unable to interact with my world in new ways.
I long for a world where everyone feels safe. Where we’re able to allow a feeling to run its course without needing to jump to conclusions and create a story about why it’s there, or a need to beg another for “help”. I long for us all to be patient with the flood of discomfort until the authentic response-the gem-rises from the churning of the feeling.
Many days I still see myself choosing to react in fear, anger and shame when I encounter differences or areas where I initially felt uncomfortable. Some days I want to force my “authentic response” but the irony in this effort is not lost on me. Force will never ever elicit an authentic, truthful response to life. My discomfort in telling the truth will never bring forth the result I imagine. Only the truth will reveal the next step. So I feel, even when I tell myself bizarre stories about what the feelings mean. So I write, even when I know I may hear another’s story about what my words mean and that I may not agree. I write, not because no one has ever felt like this before or because no one has ever written this before, but because someone feels this right now and my words may sink in where others have not before.
If all human beings could simply sit with all the feelings we share for one month, with no requirement to act or speak but simply to feel, what would come? What might we realize? Would we finally allow all the suppressed energy under the surface of our “fines” and “okays” to move through us and transform us so we could finally experience how we are already immersed in peace instead of making the mistake of thinking that we have to “make peace?” Would we then feel the forgiveness that comes from realizing each and every one of us is attempting to experience unconditional love in a conditional world? What would we create then?
“Don’t hide your heart but reveal it, so that mine might be revealed, and I might accept what I am capable of. ”
If you liked this article, be sure to watch our video Secret of Water to keep exploring.
How Does an HSP Cope With All the Suffering in the World?
If you’re not familiar with the term HSP, please see the definition for “Highly Sensitive Person” from Dr. Elaine Aron.
With no simple answer, I’m afraid. I’ve pondered my own answer to this question for several years. The following Meditation of Hope and Love came to me during one of my own meditations a few years ago. I use it often…and lately, that means almost daily!
A Meditation of Hope and Love
Find a meditation time – at least 30 minutes, or longer, if possible. You know the criteria – quiet, uninterrupted time and space, preferably your own special place that may have candles or a special feeling of comfort and security for you.
Sit or lie down in a very comfortable position. (I prefer lying, with something light and soft to cover me.)
- Begin slow, deep breathing, focusing on blowing all your breath out – as if blowing out a candle.
- Breathe in deeply, through your nose, to a count of 8 or 10. Hold for a count of four.
- Breathe out, again as if blowing out a candle, to a count of ten.
You want to create a very deep cleansing breath. Notice: You might begin yawning, or drifting off to sleep. Go with whatever feels best for you. There is no ‘doing it wrong’ here. Just keep practicing until eventually you can complete the whole meditation. Now here comes the harder, yet important part.
Begin to allow your mind to go ahead and focus on all the things you have been concerned or worrying about. Like many of you, I have been close to tears each day as I hear about all the suffering in the world.
Lovingly ask each individual concern to patiently wait in line — assuring them they will all have a chance to be heard. In your relaxed state, begin to see each entity forming a line, waiting patiently. As they come up to be heard, assign them a name like Robin Williams, Gaza/Palenstine conflict, Nigerian girls or maybe for you it might be lost job, finances, or whatever else evolves as an appropriate and loving way to remember and honor your concerns.
As an HSP, these kinds of images tend to burrow deep into my inner world and I can begin to feel burdened, lethargic, and sometimes hopeless. Cognitively, I know there is really nothing I can (concretely) do about these tragedies, yet my yearnings for a better world keep my mind occupied.
Now comes the next step in your meditation.