Hej Hej (Swedish for Hello!)
I am on a plane, for 12 hours. So I watched Collateral Beauty on the seat back screen in front of me. I like a good, sensitive movie with meaning. My wife and I call them girl movies. We say that I go to them with her and she comes to guy movies with me, just to mess with the stereotypes, cause we enjoy a nice emotional range.
But today I welled up and cried so much, so often. I wondered if my neighbors could tell. I was feeling so much more sadness and joy from the story than I would expect. I love to feel, it was nice. I wondered why, and after, it was obvious.
I had just lead hundreds of person-hours of deep self-therapy in SOS workshops in Sweden. Now, these Swedes look pretty and sweet, but they come from the Vikings! And when they did their emotional healing, the roar from ages of Anger, the thrashing and wailing of decades of grief came out with such force I had never seen. Had I finally gotten in over my head with this Senses of the Soul business? Would they be alright?
With trust in the technology of Kundalini Yoga we were using, and the sacred space of it’s patron saint, Guru Ram Das, we kept up. And there were breakthroughs you can call miracles; though far from unexplainable, no less welcomed with gratitude. I was amazed how steady and strong my training prepared me to be able to hold strong that safe space while they cried, so they might not get lost in the feelings.
Many of the kriyas have strong movements, some rhythmic, some erratic with instructions to “go wild”. They say animals shake violently when safe after escaping near death in the claws of a predator to release the trauma-induced endorphins and stress to the nervous system. That’s what these Vikings were doing, class after class.
And that’s what my system was doing there on the plane. I had done my job, I heard all the horror stories that happen to so many people inside nice homes, and the scars carried, the lives disrupted. Now, assisted by the movie, it was time for me to feel and let go of the pain I must.have absorbed. Nice.
I asked the local teacher why, as it seems to me, that these daughters of ancient Shield Maidens were so…. well, loud. Do they have more abuse here than in the States, generational pain from history, or just more willingness to express it? Yet it’s a culture that keeps it pretty polite? I liked her answer: Sweden has a fairly long history now of peace and prosperity, at least in the society at large. Perhaps the psyche feels it is safe enough to shake it out now. Add to that the circumstances: ashram, the teachings, the guidance.
Is the war over in your life? First we have to get ourselves out of the jaws of threatening situations – as much as we can. The rest of our protection in this wild world must be fortified from within, the inner work, the regular practice. With these conditions, trauma CAN be released. This is self-therapy, the ability of everyone.
Use and Misuse of Emotions: Address, Express, or Repress
Most of the trouble and bad reputation of emotions comes from improper use. The two main forms of misuse are opposites: to Express and Repress.
Expression means “to come out” and implies here that the emotion is in charge. It takes control of your words and actions; IT expresses itself through you, while the real you is lost. You react instinctively and instantly with no filter. Desire is acted upon no matter what the consequences. You lash out at those you love, pushing them further away. Fear has you run and hide from the opportunities you find. This automatic behavior evolved with your animal nature to survive by immediate action. When you believe survival is at stake, you don’t think. You are irrational, beyond reason, out of touch with any reality beyond attack or escape now. Using the unprocessed information of the emotions as a direct basis for action is like using the raw data in an experiment as a final conclusion.
The information brought to you by emotions requires interpretation, which also comes very naturally, but requires a conscious awareness. This book will show you how to do that for yourself. Warnings against emotion in spiritual literature refer to their misuse in this primitive way, and are well deserved as the source of much human suffering.
This leads us to the much more civilized and religiously promoted misuse: repression. Since emotions are both uncomfortable and create trouble, it was naturally discovered that you could: 1) hide them from others that disapproved, 2) distract yourself with some other great pleasure or pain in an attempt to elude and ignore them or, 3) become truly numb. These ingenious methods to “not feel” are as numerous as humans; do you know yours? But all repression ultimately fails because your mind is a thought-and-feeling producing machine. Or if you do become numb, then all of life’s joy goes grey as well. Repression then leads to hidden agendas, manipulation, unresolved issues, elaborate coping mechanisms, addictions and obsessions, or medication. You cannot not feel. Nor would you want to once you find the valuable role emotions play to create well-being.
So what’s the healthy alternative to expression and repression? Address your emotions. (Definition: v. uh-dréss: skillful and expeditious management; ready skill.) Emotions will serve you when you learn to understand their messages. They are signals to guide you to what your body, mind, and/or soul want. But you must interpret the information. Conscious use of emotion involves all the definitions of the word Conscious: aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings; sensitive to something; having the mental faculties fully active; known to oneself; felt; aware of what one is doing.
The basic method for this is similar to meditation. In fact, it is meditation which includes observation of thoughts AND feelings. Since these are detected “inside” and subtler than messages from the 5 senses, it helps to reduce distracting sensory input, sitting still in silence with eyes closed. Focusing on sensations increases awareness. And the mind is encouraged to serve a supporting role; to understand that it is not the originator but the interpreter of these deeper messages.
Despite years of excessive or repressive use of emotion, most people learn to listen to their emotions quickly and easily with a little instruction and reassurance. This is because proper use of emotion is an essential, always-ready part of our natural sensory system. The many techniques of Kundalini Yoga serve to create these conditions. There are techniques to move from repression to safe expression, and to re-awaken sensitivity from numbness, and to build the strength to handle strong or heavy emotions.
I offer courses which share many such techniques, and you can email me for a specific request for your situation.
Happiness depends on feeling good. Beyond being well-fed and pain free, your well-being requires peaceful thoughts and flourishing emotions. Yogis know that every thought generates a feeling. That’s a lot of emotions!
After years of yoga practice and working as a life coach, I have come to understand that the emotions are a vital part of our body-mind-spirit sensory equipment. Just as your five physical senses serve to navigate your body, you have emotions to explore and understand how life is going for you here on earth. Your emotions are allies and guides, leading you toward feeling Divine amidst the challenges life brings.
Skillfully navigating the dark, yet rich world of feelings brings freedom from early trauma, unresolved issues, nagging doubts, confusion, anxiety and frustration. With awareness, you can gain control over what you are feeling and learn more about what you need to be happy. Think of emotions as the Senses of the Soul, serving your spirit to flourish.
In this series of articles we will help you discover the profound benefits of using emotions skillfully. As with any friend, you can build your relationship to them with some quality time – attention and communication. Start right now!
Sit comfortably and set a timer for 11 minutes. Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Create a clarity and stability by feeling support by the earth below, then vast and expansive through your mental/ spiritual self above. Shift your attention to emotional sensations. Let any and all feelings flow through your body without resisting or trying to make anything happen. Be in rapport. You will discover that difficult feelings actually ease up when you allow them to just “be.” Equally allow positive feelings. Play with evoking all kinds of emotional sensations by calling on thoughts and memories.
Don’t be surprised if you feel uncomfortable. Keep breathing as you work with your emotions until peace comes. Try asking them what they want you to know. Ask if there is something you can do to feel better. Take note of answers, which may be more of a feeling than a thought. Inhale deeply, and finish your session with the most uplifting thoughts and feelings you can create.
Mastery comes with small steps and repetition. Practice this exercise daily and watch how your life improves. Know that you have taken the first step on the road to learning about your emotions and their relationship to your Soul.
Use this posture to process difficult feelings: Emotional Balance Meditation (With thanks to YogaMint.com and KRI)