In my previous post I mentioned how feeling is a choice. I know this often rankles people because most people feel as though they have no choice in their deeper-held feelings of emotions. What we do not feel we have control over are the emotions that crop up out of nowhere that leave us feeling as though feeling has mastered us instead of the other way around. I get it. There is a way, though, to deal with feelings that have plagued you for years that put you in that sudden miasma of emotion….and the great thing about the approach is that its not a band-aid, but a permanent reversal of the reactivity that we feel that we can’t always control.
The method is not about control, it is about genuine healing, and that is what is so different about the first portion of this post (which I know gets lengthy but…)
One important key to changing how you feel is understanding the choices you may have made years ago, maybe even in childhood, for a pattern of feeling that has stuck with you to the present day. We aren’t always self aware enough to realize that sometimes our emotional reactions are based in an assumption we have might, right or wrong, about how we think the world is, or how we are.
The choice I am talking about here may now be a long lost memory by now, so be easy on yourself. It may also be a feeling that has descended on you during adulthood, too. In either case, I am going to unravel some of this for you to see if it helps you to understand how it is that you might feel governed by feelings that you have little or no seeming control over, and that you CAN in fact make the change by changing the underlying assumptions or feelings that give rise to these emotions in the first place. The first method will involve the science of somatics, which, simply put, reveals how it is that the body stores trauma and latent emotion.
In this post, I have a rather long series of recipes, or prescriptions, for how to deal with a wide array of things that often trip people up this time of year. Sadly, this is not light reading, however, it has a lot of very good info culled from years worth of work on this subject. To make navigating this post a little easier and quicker for those of you who feel harried, I have divided each portion of this post up into sections, which you can quickly scan through if you find a heading that strikes our fancy.
The Root Of Our Troubles
When we experience an emotion that we have never fully processed, which is to say, that we never really truly felt in its fullest depth and intensity, we know that these emotions get stored in the body (this is a somatic effect). What many people don’t know is the degree to which this happens. Over years we push away many hard feelings resulting in a collection of unprocessed emotion. All modern psychologists have explained that anything that is repressed comes roaring back to life. If held in too long and too tightly, it can even lead to disease because of how the feelings distort the body’s own ability to function in a healthy way. My observation has been that when we create this stance in relation to our submerged feelings, they come bubbling up from time to time when triggered, but for may people, this bubbling up does not release them and they always remain not fully processed as a result. This creates a scenario where we have certain “hot button issues” that keep upsetting us over and over, seemingly without end. The answer lies in being able to let the feeling come out into the bright light of day, so to speak. To do that, however, requires a level of awareness that has not been brought to the emotion or feeling before.
How this happens is still a bit of a mystery to western minds even though it has been observed and taken as fact for thousands of years by eastern traditions. You could say that the Western mindset in medicine has been a material and rational one that looks at the brain as the center of much of the psychological activity, while the eastern traditions take a much less material approach (its all just chemicals bouncing around), that considers the body and somatics.
Most of Chinese medicine, the parts that concerns itself with energetics, deals directly with the issue of blocked chi (qi) or prana (in the Indian tradition) and Ka in both the Egyptian and Polynesian traditions. This blocked energy is always removed by manipulating the connections in what is described as a kind of etheric or energetic circuitry of chi energy that is nonphysical, but is very much a part of the body. This circuitry has been mapped out with a high degree of detail in the Chinese acupuncture tradition. It also exists in similar form, with the addition of chakras, in the Indian traditions. These are the often-mentioned meridians of the Chinese and the nadi of the Indian tradition (as in the illustration included below).
There are numerous ways that blocks can be removed, and in each case the first step towards removing them comes with an intention to do so. Regardless of the method used, it seems that when we are able to remove blocked emotional energy in the body, we can actually release an emotion that we have been holding in the body. The really interesting counterpoint to such releases of stored material is that once they go, they are gone forever. In fact, these types of releases can be so dramatic that the person who has released them no longer goes back into the old thinking and feeling that created them in the first place. Part of the reason for this is because each block in the body is actually blocking the flow of prana. When the flow of this energy is allowed to move freely in the body in a large enough volume in hindered by our thoughts and feelings, the result is a state of ecstasy or bliss. Blocks will always center around some kind of attenuation of this energy. Think of it as starving yourself of the loving force that will help animate your body and make you feel wonderful. This is not pie-in-the-sky thinking, but is actually a state that each human is capable of feeling and being every moment of the day when enough blocks are removed. So its beneficial to do this work, you see.
The concept of blocked energy was for me a foreign concept in many ways until upon awakening I saw how I was releasing blocks with the aid of kundalini stirring in me. It is odd, too, given how long I had been aware and able to see auras, which went back over 20 years. I had simply never learned about blocks and how to see them in the aura when I “read” someone. But after a particularly illuminating conversation I had with a brilliant intuitive about a year and a half into my awakening, I was made aware of my own blocked energy. I had been experiencing releases of blocked energy all along, but I didn’t believe I was as blocked as I was (I was!) This gifted intuitive explained that there was someone in my community who would be someone who would help me in removing these blocks, and she told me that while she did not know this person’s name, she described the person to a “T” and then explained I needed to keep my eye out for this person. It helped that she was very specific, because her description of this person as an expert in their field related to healing and energy, along with his personality traits she described made this person instantly recognizable to me. In my case, I did not have to wait very long before finding this person. In fact, it was the very next day as I was talking to a client and old family friend about some matters with a piece of glass she had bought from my studio that she began to describe this person to me in enough detail to cause me to sit up and take notice. The most interesting part to this story was that the classes that this person held were just around the corner from my home. By beginning weekly sessions with his Qi Gong class (also spelled Qi Gung), I embarked on an intensive period of block removal that led to hundreds of releases over a six month period. It led to a lack of reactivity on a slew of issues, too. I have continued with this work because the amount of blocked material for most people experiencing this rapid type of removal is fairly significant. Don’t ever feel daunted by the volume of material, just keep chipping away at it; it is extremely beneficial work! When things get difficult, I think about U.G. Krishnamurti, who went through the process of awakening and saw how he used to say “Nothing bothers me” only to see that near the end of his life, his core blocks came to life, the ones he had not dealt with….and it shows that we are all so very human (be easy with yourself–this is the great work we each can do).
While the work of releasing blocked chi is so incredibly useful for helping bring us back to a state of greater balance or equilibrium, the effects are most often permanent for the simple fact that if you are releasing a block from childhood, say, the person you are now is no longer the person you were as a child, and you now quite simply see and understand in a different way now than you did all those years ago. The problem with blocks, though, is that it does not matter if you are now “older and wiser” because as long as the block is shoved down inside of you, you suffer in direct proportion to how “off” your emotions were concerning a given event in your past. You can then very much relive the feelings from your childhood self over and over endlessly….experiencing feelings of blueness or depression as the holidays hit simply because they remind you of what you have not yet forgiven and let go from your childhood, for example.
I know that, again, I might upset you by suggesting that your feelings were “off” but it is nonetheless true. If your feelings were spot on with the incident in question, you would be much more able to see that some slight or hurt dealt you, whether real or imagined, would actually be seen for what it is, which means taking a lot more information into account than what any block has ever been able to do.
There is a reason why a block is called a block, which has everything to do with the silent but brilliant intelligence which lies within prana itself. When we feel something that is off axis from what prana is, we incur a negative type of karmic thread, and often an emotion forms at the same time as a result that is tricky because of how it mis-perceives something in the world. We think our mother does not love us because of how she acts, when in truth, her behavior may not have had to with her love, but that she was going through a hard time, which we took to mean what we believe it means, for example. This forms into a notion of ourselves and each time she displays this hard emotion, we think it has to do with us, for example, when in fact, it may have nothing at all to do with us (it may not change how she appears to be-snapping at people around her, and maybe even at you…but there may be more to the story). This then gets played over and over within us until the end of time like some kind of merry-go-round experience that seems to lock us into the same recursive reaction or behavior.
Sometimes the act that helps to release a block is a simple act of deep unconditional forgiveness of others, but it also means forgiving ourselves for having felt hard or anything less than wonderful and wonder-filled. There is something about the nature of the cosmos that provides reward when our compass point is spot-on but difficulty when it is off. When it is off, we incur negative karma and blockages in our bodies and also a slew of undesirable emotions that we can’t seem to change no matter how hard we try.
One method that I was introduced to as a way of working with our own sense of accountability and honesty for owning our feelings was embodied in the Polynesian methodology called Ho-Oponopo. It means returning back to the zero-point that the Zen Buddhists talk about, which is the removal of all of the reactive material we have floating around in us. The method is not complicated, and is amazingly simple. I suggest that you take a look at an interview with Dr. Hew Lin to better understand how radical a change can happen when healing takes place. As is often the case, when we heal ourselves it can also lead to others being healed as well. I think it is clear how we hold other people in webs of resistance unknowingly that lead to these hard feelings. When that web goes, the healing can begin. I can say that in nine years of this work that I have encountered this similar phenomenon over and over many times. The benefit of our own healing is that it frees others to heal, too.
First Things First
In the case of subconscious material, it can be helpful to use a healing modality where a practitioner is trained and is intuitive and knowledgeable enough to know about where the emotional material is stored in the energy body, that system of meridians that acupuncture helps to open up and allow to flow. But acupuncture is not the only method. There are many others. To help you get at old stored material I have created a list of similar and also divergent methods that all address the energetic aspect of stored emotion.
Movement is a critical part of tapping into stored blocks. It is one “angle” you can use to get at certain kinds of material. By using forms of movement that have been studied over a long time and known to be of benefit to all of us when we practice them, you can begin to soften blocks all through the body through continuous practice and attention during that practice.
The practice known as Chi Gung (Gong) can have very beneficial effects on removing these emotional blocks. I was able to remove significant blocks using White Crane Chi Gung at a certain point in my work. I was able to go twice a week. Chi Gung has as its benefit being a discipline that moves through each major center of the body in order to “work” each center. My teacher explained that whenever you feel a sense of resistance or pain during this low impact workout, it is most often a sign of a block. When I first went to Chi Gung I came away feeling sick. In fact, I didn’t feel good after my first two workouts. I felt clammy and nauseous. What I learned was that this was just how powerful the Qi Gung was for me. I was already beginning to move a lot of blocks and this was having an impact on my system. I doubt that most people should expect the same reaction that I had for the simple reason that I was in the midst of an intense kundalini experience. I was “ready” for anything that might begin moving the blocks quicker than kundalini itself was doing. If you have experienced strong pranic flow, you may want to keep an eye out for physical symptoms and see how they change as your work progresses. If you study with an experienced teacher s/he should be able to help point out what it most likely an energetic rather than physical reaction.
The method is to place awareness on this feeling of resistance or strain and work on that area gently and with intention. It is so simple; you simply allow yourself to be aware and to fill that space with the light of your awareness. There is a difference here with intending to release a block and simply allowing yourself to observe and be aware, never judging or making up your mind what you think the block is. By allowing yourself to simply be aware but not judging, my experience has shown that blocks resolve themselves much easier. You do not want to create more resistance in by bringing this awareness, you simply want to bring a very simple awareness that does not judge. It SEES.I know how simple this sounds, but I sense that there is a part of our awareness that we are not fully conscious of that IS seeing into these blocked places and bypasses our own so-called “conscious” awareness in order to get at the block and release the stored material. This is a method I developed that is a part of my own meditation practice that has led me to become much more aware of my remaining blocks. They are each translated as a seeming physical feeling that is in fact energetic. They are marked by a feeling of tightness or, in the words of my teacher, “resistance.” I simply allow my mind or attention to go to the resistance and over weeks, sometimes months, the block is dissolved. I mention this method because you can join it with your work with a physical discipline like Qi Gong, but you do not even have to do this in order to get Qi Gong to work well.
You don’t even need to know what the block was, but you can feel a difference in your own inner energy flow and state of mind once it does release. After having done this a few times, you might not even want to know, which is akin to revisiting an old scene of the crime kind of experience. The experience of being freed from the old hard feeling is so good, I have most often not even looked back at what it was that was released that helped to bring the better flow within. And really, when you think about it, well-being is concurrent with a nice flow of energy in the body. I don’t mean just physical energy, but also the feeling of lightness and joy that can come with an increase in prana or chi. With enough of it, bliss begins to fill the body and it helps to bring a sense of lightness and awe.
Shaking has been shown to help relieve the effects of PTSD in traumatized patients and is now being used for war veterans as a therapy with measurable results. It turns out that Osho offered a method of ecstatic movement that emphasized feeling the shaking not just physically, but within ones own being. It has been shown that we can literally shake off our hurt. The prescription for maintenance is to shake for ten to fifteen minutes while laying on a bed, a level of shaking that does not cause injury, but is like a gentle workout.
I myself have also used shaking and what I found most useful is a gentle shaking for five to ten minutes, continuously or intermittently over about a 15 to twenty minute period. I have found that when I can identify a center where a block is, I simply put my awareness there and leave it there during shaking. I don’t even think about what the block is, I just imagine my awareness as a larger awareness of prana flowing into me, and as I do this, I can feel the prana actually helping to dissolve the block along with the actions of shaking. I was first introduced to shaking by my intuitive friend I mentioned earlier, and I went on to find that shaking has a place in healing.
I have also developed a method of “inner shaking” that I can only do when I am lying still and alone. This inner shaking is a feeling that I have identified as a manipulation of prana itself that feels like a tightening and loosening of prana in my meridians, but it has no movement involved. It is in effect constricting and releasing the energy quickly so that I feel a swimming effect that borders on feeling physical.
To understand what I am talking about, the effect is nearly identical to the feeling when you feel yourself shuddering when you see something that upsets you. Do you know how you feel when that happens? The shudder is actually taking place at a level of consciousness and of energy. Your body might also shudder, too, but if you are careful and are not swept away when a shudder happens, you will be able to identify the inner shudder that is not part of the physical effect. You can then repeat this shudder inwardly and use it to have a very real effect on the meridians in your body where these old emotions appear to be stored in some way. When I came across the method described by Osho, which was to feel the quiver or shaking inwardly, I suspected that he was on to the same idea. Once you “get it” you can repeat it over and over quite easily, although it may take some degree of concentration and quiet to do so.
Never underestimate the benefit of a massage performed by a practitioner who understand energy. I recommend having someone who describes their work as involving energy work along with deep tissue massage. I do feel that for me, I am careful of the people who do this type of work. I have had some energy workers be unaware of the blocks I could feel and knew were there. I also find that the universe has a way of providing the perfect thing for me at my level of work (which is always changing over time) Often you will find that a therapist that does one aspect involving energy will also do other complimentary practices as well, such as cranio-sacral therapy, or reiki along with body work. I have found a Kahuna practitioner who has melded her culture’s knowledge of Kah (chi) with a method that is balanced, which is very much like the Chinese system of recognizing the yin and yang energies. By keeping these balanced, both aspects of the self and prana or chi are brought through and worked with. A good body worker can be worth their weight in gold for how they can feel a block in your body tissue even if you yourself are unaware. They can, if you are ready, remove those blocks for you. I have found that by asking the universe to provide you with just such a person, and then keeping your eyes and ears peeled, that it has a way of coming along in due course. This was just how I found my very effective Kahuna healer who I felt instantly comfortable with dealing with some of the deeper root chakra issues that I knew were keeping me blocked. As a result, I could just let completely go while also guiding her in some cases for that exact position over a given block. I knew just enough about the work to be a help and not a hindrance.
I have found that I have had the most beneficial effects when I was already aware of the blocks in my body. These blocks always feel either like a feeling of tension in a part of the body, and sometimes can be expressed as pain. This tension is itself a restriction of prana and this gets referred to the brain as feeling like tightness. It is in truth a narrowing of energy flow that gets translated into tightness, pressure, or sometimes other related symptoms. These can often feel quite physical, and its probably a good idea for you to describe them when working with a practitioner for your own peace of mind.
This is not to say that I always knew what the block was about, only that I could feel its presence as a sense of tightness or resistance or even pressure in a certain part of my body. By working on that center, I often had flashes of memory as the block dissolved that showed me what the block was about. Don’t be shy to ask practitioners if they work with helping remove blocked material.
Another good first step towards making change is being aware that there is a problem. Since so much of these problems or snags for us reside at the edges of our awareness, being able to see your own reactions to a wide range of things that upset you can actually be a powerful way to get very quickly to the source of the challenges you face. I’m not suggesting that your reactions are wrong in any way, but if you are to change how your respond to certain issues that upset you, the only way is to identify them first. Being able to do this in an honest way as possible is the first step in identifying the root cause.
You can actually change how you respond to your hot button issues if you tell yourself that your hot button issues are very often the face of a deeper issue. What lies beneath that face is more material that has had you tied up in a certain way of feeling. Seeing it as an ally, not an enemy, is one first step in turning all of this around. If you can learn to do this, you can turn your issues from problems into potential solutions. Within them lies the answer, you see, so really, were they so bad? It is often our response to a given issue or our fear of looking deeper, or even our seeming inability to ever address it that often leaves us not dealing with these snags for years. Very often the fear of addressing something or looking at it seemingly for the first time square on is greater than anything that the issue itself contains. It is more that it is a mouse when we imagine it is a dragon.
Behold The Light
One important aspect to feeling better this time of year is the nature of the light our bodies receive. We have been learning recently that the character and color of light goes a long way to setting our internal clocks and also our sleep cycles. When you are unknowingly disrupting your inner clock, it can lead to feelings of sleeplessness, fatigue, and irritability. One part of this is the fact that our days have shortened. We are all getting less light, so our sleep cycles can change. You might sleep a little more in winter, and it might be in some latitudes that you should give yourself a little more time for this. Sometimes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour is all that is needed. In other cases, though, for people who do not need as much sleep as some people, this could lead to oversleeping, and this is sometimes almost as bad as not getting enough sleep, since it leads to a feeling of dulled senses. I think you might find yourself more rested and feeling less sleepy by adjusting your sleep requirements over the winter. That means going to bed a little earlier than you may be used to. It may also mean keeping your sleep at night the same and finding ways to take a nap in the afternoon. While I know that many people cannot do this, I have found significant benefits with a short 45 minute nap in the middle of the day when I am suffering from fatigue. Some people are so affected by the change in light that it leads to depression, fatigue, and other problems like a weakened immune system. One solution can also be getting more light into your body, but as with anything, the quality of that kind of light is very important for how you feel. Light screens can be a way to combat the winter “blahs” by giving your body much needed light. I once had a friend who became bipolar as a direct result of not getting enough light in winter. She was able to fix this after I suggested she look into seeing if a light table or light screen might help her. In the case of my friend, it was a life saver. It saved her from the drastic swings from one state of feeling to another. The clue for me was that she was complaining about these things affecting her more in winter than in the summer.
Quality Not Quantity
While the sun is hiding from us, there is another issue concerning the character of light that many people are not aware of, and this has to do with computer screens and phone or portable devices. Most of these devices are powered with low power consuming high intensity L.E.D.’s. The L.E.D.’s that are most often used to create a white screen and lighter colors in our handhelds and computer screens are actually tinted very slightly blue. The white light, it turns out, mimics the same light the sun puts out at mid-day. What this means for you when you are sitting in bed with your phone checking email is that you are most certainly getting zapped with a lot of “blue” white light. Your pineal gland is responsible for the production of melatonin in your body, and melatonin is responsible for helping you get sound restful sleep. The production of melatonin is set in large part by the kind of light that you look at each day. Your pineal gland is actually photo-sensitive. So what is the prescription for helping your body produce melatonin so you can get to sleep?
Don’t look at a computer screen past 7:30 in the evening. Its even better if you can avoid looking at any computer screen in the evening after you come home from work unless it is a quick peek at email or something. Avoid compulsive “surfing” on the net if you are having to take melatonin to get to sleep. Those pills may be trying to tell you something.
One very useful and important thing that you can do to reset your melatonin production is to have warm light in your home. There are even clear films being made that make your handhelds and computer screens slightly more amber in color, which helps to counteract the ever-so-slight blue in the white light on these screens. Often these films do very little to dramatically alter images on the screen, and they can also help protect you from the effects of making your body think its daytime. You can very easily change the balance of light around your home to a warmer one by finding sheer fabrics that are amber that you can throw over a lamp. Like I said earlier, nearly ALL “white” L.E.D. lighting clusters lean in the blue range and often have a light balanced much closer to daylight than all incandescent bulbs. Candle light and fire light are excellent choices too, and can be naturally very relaxing for you. Its not so much that you have to deprive yourself of light, but that its better for sleep cycles when you choose warm light over computer-screen light.
Last year I ran a fund raising campaign on indiegogo that was centered around creating a light feature that worked with warm colors, and the effect of these lamps has been quite wonderful for me and many of the people who donated to the campaign. The added benefit is that they get a warm wavelength of light that helps to calm them. If you can’t have fire light in your home for some reason, having a lamp that produces warm light is a great choice. Treating yourself to a golden-colored lamp shade might be just the ticket for helping to reset your sleep cycles. You will need to give this method at least a week to begin showing signs of its working.
Changing The Reason For The Season
Another way of dealing with the season when the pressure of gift giving gets you down is to find a group of friends who feel similarly pressured and choose to have gatherings and parties that do not involve gifts but other types of giving and sharing. Sometimes simply sharing a meal among friends can help shake off the perception of demand that this time of year brings. Despite your guests insistence to bring a gift for the host, ask your friends to bring a story that they would like to share with each other. People love stories, and you might consider telling your friends to keep their stories down to about ten minutes each. This way, a group of five or six people can all share something they found significant without taxing the after-dinner attention spans of the rest of the guests. Then, lighting candles and decking the table with good wholesome food, enjoy the time laughing and talking, saving the story telling for the desert round, or coffee and tea, at the end. Families also often head off the stress of the holidays with limiting the price of gifts, which is a good way to ease the angst of building expectations.
Desire and Expectation
I think sometimes that the nature of desire is often at the root of many of our misgivings about the holidays. We sense that everyone is hoping for a perfect kind of gift, and in so doing, it can lead to disappointment sometimes, and as can be so often the case, we can perceive that our gift recipients were less than happy than they actually were. But just as likely, the holidays remind us of the morass of emotions from our younger years that we may not have fully dealt with, so they keep coming back year after year. It is amazing how radical honesty can help clear these feelings away for good. Sometimes, without knowing it, we have been holding a person accountable for some perceived slight from decades ago that we never fully got over and are still holding onto it.
Sometimes just finding the time to do all the shopping for gifts for friends and coworkers and for family is enough to turn the most ardent gift giver into a tarnished hum-bug. So why not admit that this time of year is hard and seek to find a way to soften whatever it is that bothers you about it. I have never had problems with Christmas time, but I knew many who did, and it was feeling on edge as a kid that was MY issue.
If this time of year is getting you down, it’s a sign that something needs to change, and the wonderful thing is that while we might have expectations and desire driving us about what we think this time of year is supposed to represent, there is nothing that says that you can’t craft your own tradition. Those who crave piles of wrapping paper will look elsewhere and might even find your home a retreat from business as usual. In the end, love is the greatest gift we can give this time of year, and with so many holidays crowding into such a narrow corridor, it strikes me as all the more important that we are able to be easy with others and with ourselves, too. You never know who you are going to inspire towards a more wholesome and healthy approach to this time of year.
I hope your holidays are bright and happy and that you can find yourself looking forward to letting it serve the love in your heart with the people who mean the most to you. And if you cannot be with those whom you love, for whatever reason, I hope that you can hold them in your heart, or mend the bridges that might have been harmed in our storied pasts.