Okay, you might say, I have been practicing yoga and meditation but I still have a lot of bad moments. My life still seems to be driven by others. They push my buttons like so many keys on a grand piano. What good is all this stuff if I am still tugged along by every insult and problem that comes my way? You can use your developing attention and awareness to directly examine bad feelings and let them go. Try it. Serenity awaits.
It is good to confront these feelings directly. Often when facing trouble I have tended to suppress or “stuff” my feelings. They don’t go away. They build up in the body and come back later. The body and mind are so integrated by the nervous system and chemical messaging that the mind and attitude are affected by these stuffed feelings. Then in daily situations, you react to this baggage you carry around instead of reacting to what is currently happening.
From time to time you get indications of this from feedback from others or perhaps from noticing behavior in yourself that cannot be explained readily from the current situation. Sometimes the connection to the past is obvious but many times it is hidden. You go through life then, living a program from the past, not even aware, really, of what is happening right around you.
Breaking free of this programming is very good for health and allows you to experience life directly and live in the moment. Awareness of the present moment is key to feeling good. It is also key to doing things to the best of your ability. Becoming aware of this programming is important to understanding the baggage and dropping it.
Exercise: Get a journal. A cheap composition book will do. Get a pen. Find a quiet place to sit. Sit comfortably and relaxed with your feet flat on the floor.
- Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Think of the worst thing that ever happened to you in childhood. (If that is too extreme, think of something that is just medium horrible.) The idea here is to visualize the incident and examine the event emotionally.
- Take yourself back to the event and try to see it. What did the scene look like? What did the other people involved look like?
- Can you remember sounds, smells, tastes, or touch sensations? Reconstruct it as much as you can.
- Now what are you feeling? What age were you? How does it feel to be that age going through this? Where do you feel it in your body? Mine this experience for as many sensory and feeling details as you can.
- Take a deep breath and name the feelings. Let them go.
- When you are ready, bring your attention back to the room and the present. Open your eyes.
- Write up everything you can remember of this experience in your journal.
Dredging up these feelings may leave you with some bad physical sensations. Some physical activity can help this. A walk in the fresh air perhaps. Doing this exercise on childhood experiences with the intention of reliving and letting go of negative emotions can be cathartic all by itself. You are letting go of stuffed emotions. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said that emotions can pass through our bodies in literally seconds if you acknowledge and feel them and allow them to pass through. But, you can spend years or literally a lifetime blocking them.
The exercise we did with a childhood experience can be done on other childhood experiences to release blocked emotions. You can also do this exercise on experiences in your daily life. Feeling and letting go of the emotions is a big step in healing the upset that you are carrying around. Many people don’t even know they are upset because developing a “thick skin” is part of growing up. You don’t need to hold it in and have a thick skin though. You can let go and have the freedom to react to the current moment without emotional baggage.
One more exercise to try and to practice. The next time something upsetting or angering is happening do this.
Exercise: Focus on your breath. Feel it drawing in and out. Focus either on the point just at the nostrils where the air goes in and out or on your diaphragm which moves up and down with the inflow and outflow of breath.
- Then name your emotion, out loud or mentally. Say, “I am angry.” Or you might say, “I am frustrated.”
- Allow yourself to feel where the emotion rests in the body. What feels tight? What feels loose or tired? Are the eyes watering or nose stuffy or running? Do you feel pain?
- Feel it and let it pass through. Let it go.