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 to Weather an Existential Crisis
There comes a time in the lives of many when there is a pause to reflect on the meaning of life. When this moment of Zen turns out to be especially troubling, puzzling, or even discombobulating, we have a name for it — an existential crisis. The symptoms of an existential crisis range from mild wonderment to turning your world on its head and it can feel much more extreme than a prolonged state of confusion or mental health issue.
There are numerous introductions into the potential rabbit hole of an existential crisis, but all of them usually begin with the question “Why am I here?” or “What is the meaning of life?” If you’re going through this, you aren’t alone.
Philosophers have contemplated the purpose of existence and existential anxiety all the way back through our collective past. Socrates had a prescription: “Know thyself.” The Indian sage Ramana Maharshi suggested asking, “Who am I?”
Why do we humans get caught up in this search for meaning, and why do we fear a meaningless life? Better yet, is there any meaning at all? Some people suggest there is a purpose to life that is bound to a sense of well-being, but the masters of enlightenment have long said that we are looking in the wrong direction — outward instead of inward.
Joseph Campbell taught that it’s better to stop searching for the meaning of life and to begin looking for the meaning in life. In other words, life deals us a certain hand of cards, and we need to find what makes us passionate about them. Campbell summed this up in three immortal words: “Follow your bliss” — and the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “Don’t forget to love yourself.”