A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Feeling feelings




Both personally and in my work in mental health, I have come to see that the value of feeling our feelings (rather than avoiding or indulging them) cannot be overstated. The "emotion phobic" tendency that seems to be inbuilt in us drives all kinds of addiction, over-consumption, violence, etc. Therefore I love this video (which applies equally to men and women) that invites us to experience our feelings nonverbally. Thinking about feelings is the opposite of feeling them; thinking is a defense and barrier against unpleasant feelings, it is a distancing mechanism which walls us off from our own life energy. When we block out the "bad" stuff (unpleasant feelings), the "good" stuff is equally blocked out. A kinked hose blocks the flow of any fluid equally.

The body and psyche are overstuffed suitcases full of repressed emotional material. I feel this is true to some extent for every human being. How do we "unpack" the suitcase of stuffed feelings? We don't. It unpacks itself. Whatever feelings are present in this moment are all that need to be met. We don't have to worry about whatever accumulation of grief and fear is lodged in the tissues, it will surface of its own accord at exactly the right time and pace. This makes it simple: we need only meet what is here now with openness and silence. I find that the "taste" of even unpleasant feelings can be surprisingly enjoyable when they are experienced on an energetic level without labels or judgments.

Flooding feelings with the energy of consciousness is inherently beneficial.

This is very different than ruminating over feelings or trying to work out a bad mood with the thinking process- this usually backfires and embeds the feelings somewhere in the "suitcase" of body and psyche.

Thought is used as a kind of protective shield to fend off unwanted feelings through analysis, rationalization, explanation, blame, guilt, etc. In whatever way the mind can label, package, shelve, project or otherwise "get rid" of unpleasant feelings, it will do so. This is how we get tied up in knots and drive the brain-engine to an ever increasing and chaotic velocity.

From an evolutionary, biological perspective, the capacity of thought to fend off unwanted feelings through judgment, analysis, repression, etc., may have been useful. But this once helpful survival mechanism has "gone overboard" and hypertrophied to the point where thinking has become a mental disease. We don't need to "throw out the baby with the bathwater"- thinking can still be beautiful and beneficial- but when thinking is used to alienate us from our feelings, it is harmful rather than helpful. The mind and thought processes have swollen to such an extent that they cause much personal and planetary suffering.

Enjoy this wonderful video that invites us to enter the energy of present feelings.

~
Gratitude to Chameli Ardagh. You can read about Chameli in the outstanding book Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom, by Rita Marie Robinson.

11 comments:

No Happy Pill said...

Colleen, thanks for that amazing post! I loved the video clip. I see a lot of women "stuffing" their feelings with food, and binge eating has become such an epidemic because of the very avoidance of feeling you describe. I also appreciate how she says we keep the feeling alive with our thoughts about it- sometimes even for years- but the true feeling is very short-lived if we just experience it. Very thought provoking as always!
Peace,Janeen

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Janeen,
The simple art of feeling feelings- of allowing feelings into the space of conscious awareness without clinging to or resisting them- is something I am becoming more familiar with day by day. A skillful relationship with the emotions that arise is key to becoming more conscious and living an authentic life. I'm very happy to see you here and to engage in this exchange. I don't know about your experience, but in my professional training there was not much said about how to open to emotions in a healthy way. Thank you for your perceptive comments Janeen, Colleen

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Janeen,
Thank you for your comments, they are truly appreciated. (I had responded to your comments earlier, but somehow that post was deleted.) Have a great day, Colleen

No One In Particular said...

Liberation is the falling away of me, or you. Then there is just thinking, feeling, sitting, driving, hurting, laughing - just happening, to no one. Despite this, there are no cobwebs in the corners of my humanity. There is such stupendous grief and bereavement - so much sadness. Misery feels especially miserable when there are no filtres to ameliorate it, no anaesthesia to deaden it. There is such profound sweetness and in the sorrow; empathy, absolute empathy, empathy that recognises all beings as one flowers in the gash. The utter vulnerability, the poignancy of the human condition, the inevitability of endings and death (in the story that seems to unfold) are all a vibrant, living, breathing thing to me. No hiding from it - no running from it - just being it. Anything might happen at anytime, it is a swirling void, but there is no one who needs to be safe, and nothing to be threatened by. Just feeling is WAY less trouble than running from the feelings (through addiction and distraction) or stuffing them away, a nice little time bomb for the "future".

Colleen Loehr said...

Hurting without a "hurter", joy without a "joyer", Life as it is without a "possessor" of Life. It's ironic but the less of "me" there is (or the less of a belief in the "me" idea, to be more accurate, since there is not and never has been a "me" beyond the thought of "me")...the more vibrant are the feelings- good and bad- as flashes and patterns of energy in vast space.

Your blog and videos have helped me a lot Suzanne. Sitting in a meeting today there was a sudden feeling of its "knife-ness"- it just is what it is- it's what I've been looking for- it's THAT all the time in a million forms- what is right here is right here- duh!!! It's panoramic. I really appreciate your communications and the comments you have left today. Your me-less Suzanne-ness is THAT. Thank you.

Leslie said...

Hi Colleen,
Thank you for such a wonderful post and video. What I get from this is to allow...allow...allow. This feels viscerally native. It must be the brave and honest heart.
I particularly appreciate the exhange on this thread between
you and Suzanne. Clarity meeting Clarity -- extremely helpful. Thank you to both of you.
XOXO
-Leslie

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Leslie,
I'm happy to see you and glad you enjoyed the post and comments. We are just back from Jack's baseball practice and ready to call it a day.
Sending love to you in California, Colleen

Triza said...

Thank you for a wonderful post!
It made me realize how much i try to reject or change the feelings that feel uncormfortable and cling to those that feel good.
Shifting the preception back to the feelings and not trying to label them or reject them does create space and there is less resistance within me.There is a deep feeling of shedding away slowly of all the beliefs and opinions i hold about everything and with it brings a feeling of love and compassion instead.Everything goes on as it is but there is a feeling of peace deep within.Thank you

Colleen Loehr said...

Well put Triza- I love the clarity of your comments. "Shifting the perception back to the feelings and not trying to label them or reject them does create space and there is less resistance within me." Life does begin to flow when it's not a grim task of avoiding what arises. It always makes my day when I hear from you Triza, thank you.

Doreen said...

Thanks for this post Colleen!
I am very interested to get this message out to men, in particular. Most women, 'come equipped'...so to speak to unfold in to Feeling.
Many men, just now, are beginning to realize that they, too, have a feminine nature withIn. As women, many have unconsciously embraced their deeply conditioned masculine aspect to cover over the feminine intuition....
'hope this makes sense...LOL...hot here today!
Thanks again...doreen OX

Colleen Loehr said...

Makes excellent sense! Doreen, do you happen to have a Facebook page? I have never participated in Facebook until recently and I'm finding it to be fun. Love, Colleen

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