“The cure for pain is in the pain.” -Rumi
In this time of political change, catastrophic world and personal events, and the pressure to be perfect, our emotional bodies get taxed and stressed. It can be very confusing especially during the holidays when added stresses are present. We are expected to be creative, generous, and social, to go out to parties, make cookies and rejoice!
We often put on a mask giving the illusion that everything is peachy so that we don’t ‘bring everyone down.’
We make excuses (or wish we could) of why we can’t attend a party. We lose sleep over stressing about details or caring for other people’s needs. Sometimes all we want to do is crawl into our warm beds and cry.
I am here to give you permission to do just that, to find a comfortable and safe place to lay down and ‘feel the feels’ without distraction, without interruption. It is important any time of year because our lives ebb and flow in various, sometimes unpredictable directions. This is an important part of self-care, productivity, and it is also crucial for the ability to be present at social gatherings. We need to be able to take time for ourselves to feel and process the hard stuff. I call this ‘nurturing the void.’ The void gives the illusion of emptiness and lack of productivity, but in reality it is where all of life begins. When we nurture the void, we open up space to feel the feels. When we ignore the void, we are numb.
There are so many reasons why our culture doesn’t leave space for feeling the feels. There are medications, vices, distractions and “cures” for any uncomfortable condition, especially the ones that might keep you from productivity in your job or domestic duties. We are trained to ignore our pain, cover it up, or even worse, numb it with drugs and alcohol. The pain still exists inside our bodies, but when we don’t nurture it, it can turn into physical pain, disease and/or depression.
We need to start feeling the emotional pain. Why is it so scary for us to allow ourselves to feel deep, dark feelings? Because it hurts, that’s why. And we are trained that hurting is not ok. As kids, our parents came to the rescue to fix our boo-boos as quickly as possible. Children are born with the ability to process emotions organically. We can see how quickly sadness can be felt and released. Many parents numb and stomp on this gift by telling their kids that only babies cry. By the time we are teenagers, we are already developing unhealthy habits and vices to cover up unfelt emotional pain resulting in excessive drug and alcohol abuse, violence, suicide and murder.
Here’s some news, friends. It is good to feel your pain. Pain can be one of our best teachers. It is extremely important to experience sadness and fear in order to feel happiness and freedom.
Sounds cliche, right? That’s because popular culture has written it off as new age mumbo jumbo, and we bought it. It is not new age. It is not a social trend or style. The wise masters have been teaching this for centuries. Our deepest learnings come from our darkest places. If we invite the mystery, invite the emotional pain, invite the darkness, we give way to more light. This means if we feel the feels when they manifest as sadness, fear, and anger, we can feel them more fully when they manifest as joy and happiness. It’s freedom, my friends. Liberation from the chains of our linear brains, and opening into the wisdom of our emotional bodies.
So how do we do it?
How do we nurture the void and feel the feels?
Step 1. Create a lifestyle that invites and allows space for getting to know your emotional body and understanding your intuition.
You don’t have to quit your job and move into an ashram. You don’t have to do it all at once. Here are some things you can start adding into your lifestyle as you make space for them:
1. Adopt a self-awareness practice.
Look for a way to check in with yourself every day. Find something that you enjoy and can look forward to like going for a walk, gardening, riding a bike, yoga, tai chi, cooking, dancing, sitting quietly, or even cleaning. Take a break from your thoughts during this practice, and just be with yourself, observe your breathe. It can be structured like a yoga class or completely organic like gardening or dancing. Again, look for something you enjoy. The point is not to improve or impress, but to find something that you want to do every day. Keep it simple and intuitive.
My personal self-care list is as follows: Nourishment, rest, exercise, stress reduction, and touch (see #5). For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on stress reduction. It is important to practice relaxing at some point during every day other than the moment you finally plop into bed at night. Like it or not, stress is a choice, and you can choose to lower it. You don’t have to completely stop doing the things that cause you stress, but you can approach them in new ways. For example, when sitting in traffic, instead of stressing about being late or how stupid the other drivers are, try breathing, listening to music, a podcast, or a dharma talk that you enjoy. Remember that you are ok, you are free, and you will eventually get to where you are going. Try having compassion for yourself and the drivers in the cars around you. It may sound silly, but it could quite possibly change your mood and social interactions for the rest of your day.
3. Create a support system.
One of the key things that help you to create change is to surround yourself with like-minded people who support you and your lifestyle because they are making similar choices. Sometimes our families are a good fit, and sometimes not. A great way to seek out a new supportive community is to start attending yoga or meditation classes, go on a retreat or organized group outdoor adventure. These types of events create a bonding experience for people to cultivate trusting relationships. Take a risk and start sharing yourself with people. You may be surprised that people want to connect in this way. Once you have a someone you feel safe with, make an agreement to be each other’s go to person in times when you need support.
Another way to start attracting a supportive community is to write about the kinds of people you want to surround yourself with. Make a list of their qualities and how you feel when you are with them. This helps you get more clear and start attracting new people into your life. It has worked for me several times in my life
Practice the sacred pause in times of conflict or potential argument, when your fight or flight response is triggered. This one takes practice. I mean years of practice. But we have a lifetime. Instead of reacting to an unpleasant remark or situation, try pausing to witness your interior processing of thoughts and emotions. Most of the time anger is a product of fear and/or hurt feelings. If we practice the pause, we can become more in tune with our emotional state and how it is affected and triggered by our relationships.
5. Receive touch.
Receiving non-sexual touch from another human is like receiving breath. It is a gateway to the physical, emotional and energetic bodies. There is no substitute for it. Some examples of healthy, non-sexual touch may include massage, holding hands, hugging, and snuggling. If you are not a “touchy” person, you may have your work cut out for you. Receiving a massage is a great place to start. Look for what works for you, and take a risk.
6. Simply invite the emotional body to be present.
Just the simple awareness that you are open to feeling can liberate the chains of our restrictive, learned patterns.
This is our work. I have made it my life’s work to practice, teach and inspire others to follow their hearts and open up to the infinite possibilities of life. If this resonates with you, I urge you to start making some changes and living BIG. It is a lifelong journey, and we are on it together.
Together we must pave the way for a cultural change, and create a world where it is socially accepted to be honest with ourselves and each other about what is real for us. We must stop judging, comparing, and trying to be better. We must start listening to our inner wisdom, the wisdom of our hearts.
Let’s create the world we want to live in.
If this blog has helped you in any way, please feel free to send us an email with your story to SweetRetreatsDR@gmail.com
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