One of the really big changes I’ve made over the last five years is to feel. I mean, FEEL. Really feel. Feel it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. And from where I am right now, I can look back and see how much I wasn’t feeling before.
I can see the rage that I shoved aside because, frankly, I thought it might blow up my world. I can see the yearning for deeper sensuality and my wanton lust that I sidestepped because I didn’t know how to fit it into my life. I can see the sadness, buried deep…..deep down. Some of it was so deep that I didn’t know it was there until I started going in. All of the emotions that I didn’t think were appropriate – (or that I didn’t want to have) like jealousy, bitterness, judgement, self-doubt – I tried to “fix” with my brain. But all my brain knew how to do was to ignore and deny them. Or to try to talk them away…or to convince me that they weren’t real, weren’t important or were just plain wrong.
I felt afraid of being so emotional. Of letting my world be cracked open and thrown off-course by all the things I was feeling. And because I had a belief that I had to have a solution to all my “problems”, I never thought that just feeling things, without trying to fix or change them, would do anything.
My emotional bandwidth was narrow. I was living with blinders on, operating on a very small emotional budget.
I was a thin slice of all that I am.
And where did all of that emotion hide? Just because I ignored it didn’t mean it disappeared. It just retreated and found a place to hide. Inside my body. I found my deep sadness right in the heart of me. My lust exploded along my spine. My rage was concrete in my chest and my anxiety was a pit of snakes in my stomach.
They filled my body up with their heaviness and their toxicity when they were not allowed to speak. But when I gave them my attention and allowed them to move through my body, to be seen, they became transformed.
I also know that when we numb out any emotion, we numb them all out. We can’t not feel our rage but feel all of our joy. It doesn’t work that way. We close down one, they all get closed down.
We end up feeling numb. Flat. On automatic pilot. The safety of not feeling anything too much becomes a prison, not the freedom we think it will be.
A part of this journey was learning that I, as a red-blooded woman, am designed to feel. I was born for this. I have the heart, the body, the passion, the fire to feel every shade of rage, every temperature of lust, every exquisite ache of sadness. It doesn’t break me. It makes me.
You are a red-blooded woman. You are designed to feel. It won’t break you. You have the soul for this, the breath, the fireproof feminine heart that can feel it all. It won’t break you.
I see a lot of us holding it all in. Maintaining a facade of the nice girl or the happy girl when, underneath, there are so many other colours swirling around, begging to be let out. We might think we are being our best selves by not feeling all the other stuff but in reality, we are clipping our wings, staying small and shutting out all of our aliveness, vibrancy, outrageousness, audacity and authenticity.
For me, emotions are like teenagers. They yearn to be understood. To be seen. To be heard. And when you give them that attention, the transformation begins.
Fortunately, we can become the authors of our own story. We can break free from what we were taught…or what we have always done…we are capable of expanding into our lives instead of constricting. We have the courage to be the gorgeously emotional beings we are designed to be.
This post is not about fixing anything you are feeling. But I do want to share with you how I move emotions so they don’t stay hidden and stuck inside my body.
- I step into it. When I feel that anxiety in my stomach, instead of distracting myself with something else until it disappears, I jump right into it. I don’t run away from it, I run right into it. And I breathe. Most importantly, I allow myself to feel what I am feeling. That compassion, that fierce self-love, is the real gift.
- I move it through my body with movement. Dancing for me is the best way I have learned to allow emotions to run through my body. Because I am moving with emotion, not just for movements sake. Here are some songs that I love to use to get some shit out of me:
Sadness – “Don’t worry about me” by Frances
Lust – “Skin” by Rihanna
Rage – “Out of the black” by Royal Blood
Feeling lost – “Unsuffer me” by Lucinda Williams
I do my soulful feminine movement work, which sometimes consists of me sitting on the floor and doing head circles for 10 minutes. Or being on all fours doing pelvis circles. It doesn’t have to be complicated…it just needs to allow an emotional state. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here is a movement video I did that you can follow along with at your computer. It will give you some good ideas for how to create movement that allows for emotion to come out.
- I walk and spring clean. This also is great for me because the walking gets my body moving (and me out of the house) and the spring cleaning exercise (developed by Mama Gena) allows me to get some big charged emotion out of me before I puke it over someone else or before it becomes a heavy toxic weight in my body.
Here’s how it works, in Mama Gena’s words.
“You can do this exercise alone or to a wall, but it is best done with a partner. You both first agree to keep what is said in the exercise confidential, so that you can be free in revealing your charge. Then, if you’re doing this exercise in person, sit facing each other, either at a café or some private place. You can also do this exercise over the phone. One of you asks the other the same question, over and over in an expressionless tone, for 10-15 minutes. The other answers. Then you switch. For example:
Person 1: What do you have on “desire”?
Person 2: I have no idea what I desire.
Person 1: Thank you. What do you have on “desire”?
Person 2: I remember when I was three, and I desired a ribbon for my hair and my mother criticized me.
Person 1: Thank you. What do you have on “desire”?
Person 2: I want a chocolate-covered pretzel right now.
Person 1: Thank you…
…And so on. Then you switch. The result of this practice is you, uncluttered. You, unplugged. You, unfettered. You, the gazelle. You, the swooping bird. You. Pure, wild, savage, wonderful, irreplaceable you.”
I have found this exercise to be deceptively powerful and intoxicatingly releasing. Please try it next time your body is buzzing with emotion that is demanding to be heard.
If we imagine that our bodies are temples, sacred places to keep beautiful and clean, then we need to stop dumping our garbage there – our unspoken desires, our emotions that we feel ill-equipped to deal with and all of the other things we shove into endless closets and pretend don’t exist.
In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What are you hiding in your body? What do you fear about letting it out? Or how do you manage your heavy emotions?